I recently came across a list of the Top 10 Super Foods for Endurance Athletes which I read with gusto. I love me a top 10 list. I love any list- any compilation of fun new products, and facts. I eat that stuff right up. I love facts. Back in the day I was a vicious Trivial Pursuit player (another thing that came and went in the 1990s.) Recently I have begun to really pay more attention to food- especially while training. I think if you’re going to embark on a running a marathon or cycling a century, it is imperative to consider what fuels you. I beat the tar out of myself and as much as I really don’t want to admit it, I’m not getting younger. Recovery is key. Truth be told there are reams of articles out there outlining the Top 10 Superfoods, with much overlap . So in the name of Quick Recovery and Honoring Thy Body, I give you the Cliff Notes.
Colby’s Top 5 Go To Super Foods
- Oatmeal. Chock full of soluble fiber and healthy complex carbohydrates. We endurance types can not live on protein alone. We need a healthy dose of carbs and oatmeal fits the bill perfectly. Additionally, oatmeal “sticks to your ribs” ie… makes you feel sated. It reduces cholesterol. It also has a low glycemic index which allows for a slooooow release of glucose into the blood stream. In short, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Add cinnamon and slivered almonds and to me, it’s total comfort food. (Ok it’s not mac-n-cheese, but it will do!)
- Cherries. These little guys don’t get enough credit. Say antioxidant-rich fruit? And the usual response is blueberry. Move over Veruca! Cherry Valance is here! Tart cherries especially. Cherries contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants- which are specifically linked to high antioxidant capacity and reducded inflammation. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory! Hello Recovery! It also aids in sleep (who knew?) These little tart guys are a natural source of melatonin. Na-nights….
- Chia Seeds. I was recently turned on to Chia Seeds (even though I read Born to Run years ago and had a Chia Pet). One of the tiniest superfoods on my list, chia seeds are HUGE in fiber, antioxidants, calcium, iron omega-3 fatty acids and even protein. My favorite fuction of chia seeds is their incredible capacity to retain water. They’re hydrophilic which means they “puff up” and retain quite a bit of water which translates into prolonged hydration for an endurance athlete. I put a table spoon or so into Greek style yogurt for a super powered snack. Amazingly, they grow when wet (like Sea Monkey’s), therefore they make you feel full longer. (Sea Monkey’s are not a super food. Don’t put them in your Greek yogurt.)
- Milk. More specifically Chocolate Milk. Plain old milk does do a body good. Chocolate milk does a recovering body better. Chocolate milk also contains the appropriate carbohydrate: protein ratio recommended for recovery. Carbs + Protein = Happier Repaired Muscles. I always drink it after long runs. Besides, it’s delicious.
- Bananas. Hands down my go to pre- , post- and sometimes during workout (especially if I’m cycling) snack. Potassium and B6 rich ‘Nanas replenish your electrolytes and, because of the vitamin B6 they contain, also act as an inflammatory agent. They’re also easy on your stomach which is always a big plus. They might not be as exotic as other New Superfoods, but I’ll eat a banana any day. I should also add that in terms of electrolyte replacement and hydration, Coconut Water is also my very dear friend. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it as a super food. Good stuff.
I can go on and on. Wild Salmon. Sweet Potatoes. Kale. Whey protein. Blueberries. Beets (which I ADORE and will probably star in their very own blog post). At the end of the day, you need to find what works for YOU either pre- post- or during long workouts. Don’t ignore the fuel you’re putting into your machine. Make it run efficiently. We beat it up enough. The most important thing is to honor your body. Feed it. Water it. Rest it if it breaks down. And most importantly- TAKE CARE OF IT. It’s the only one we’ve got.