Hello everyone 🙂
With the Olympics in our rear-view mirror and the Paralympics in full swing, now seems like a great time to shed some light on proper athletic nutrition. For those of you breaking a sweat on the regular, knowing the optimal nutritional needs for your body can make a real difference in the results you see and aspire to. There is a lot of information to learn (protein powders, creatine, carb loading, oh my!) but today I’m going to focus on 3 key boosters for your routine. Keep these in mind, and take your fitness to a whole other level!
With tons of sports drinks, coconut waters, electrolyte powders and more on the market, how do you know which is right for your body? Keep it simple by knowing the facts:
- if your workout lasts less than 1 hour, pure water should do the trick. 1 hour of exercise = 1L of water to replenish what you have lost during activity and sweat.
- if your workout lasts for longer than 1 hour, or you are training for a marathon or other long endurance sport, you need to include some form of carbohydrates and electrolytes with your hydration. Coconut water on its own is actually pretty low in sodium and glucose, both needed for intense replenishment. It is still a great natural option though, so instead try a coconut water-based drink enhanced with a few extras to ensure you’re getting adequate sodium, glucose, and hydration (for example: add in 1/2 tsp sea salt, 4 tsp honey, and fresh berries or lemon slices to your regular coconut water….shake, and drink up!)
Did you know that magnesium is needed in hundreds of reactions in your body? As an athlete, you need to be aware of this mineral and definitely start adding it to your routine, if you aren’t already. Here is a breakdown of some key jobs it does:
- needed in energy production – pretty important for your muscles to keep them from fatiguing!
- helps nourish nervous system and keep signalling on point
- needed for proper bone formation – important for resistance training
- helps remove lactic acid buildup
- deficiency can be felt as muscle cramping, fatigue, inflammation, and vulnerability to more colds and sickness
You can get good amounts of magnesium through regular diet (cacao powder, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, whole grains) but you may want to consider a supplement as well. Magnesium bisglycinate is the best as it is absorbed most effectively. Aim for 100-200mg doses at a time, working up to around 400-800mg/day. Some people go up to 1000mg, but you’ll find your upper tolerance level once you start running to the washroom (excess magnesium causes diarrhea!). Brands – go for CanPrev, or Trophic.
Inflammation will inevitably occur with any exercise because you are breaking down and building up new muscle fibres. While this re-building of tissues is crucial for your success, the pain that can comes along with it can be frustrating and limiting. We don’t want to stop your body’s natural inflammatory responses, and if you injure yourself pain is a sign that something went wrong and needs to be fixed. Rather, try to encourage recovery and healing in a safe and effective way with natural foods and supplements. Here are my suggestions:
- omega 3 fatty acids – found in fish oil, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, and other fatty fish. Taken as a supplement, look for DHA + EPA to equal over 1000mg to have a therapeutic effect on lowering inflammation in your body
- curcumin – found naturally in turmeric root. This can be really helpful in osteoarthritis. Read the cautions before taking extracted curcumin if you have gallstones or liver disorders.
- bromelain or protease enzymes – when taken away from meals, these enzymes help break down inflammatory complexes causing acute pain.
- Arnica oil and/or pellets – homeopathic arnica pellets can be taken after an acute injury to help speed healing. Topically, skip the gels and creams and go straight to the pure stuff – arnica mixed with olive oil. It can be directly applied to bruising or swelling where there has been no broken skin. I love St. Francis arnica oil and Awaken My Senses arnica oil!
Happy exercising, champs!