Many people are gearing up for summer training. Some are doing it for the first time, while others are veterans. June marks the starts of training for a lot of marathoners, too.
Even if you're not necessarily training for something in particular, there's value in following an athlete's nutrition habits. This might involve a few lifestyle changes, or maybe just a few additions.
"Functional foods" are those that provide the body with specific nutrients for specific purposes. The purpose is almost always to make the body more energy efficient. In other words, create the best possible energy using the type of calories you're eating.
Functional foods are helpful for anyone from Michael Phelps to Tiger Woods. However, they work in different amounts and different combinations. This is true for everyone, so consider adding these foods and habits in appropriate quantities based on the level and type of exercise you're performing.
Nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish
These provide anti-inflammatory nutrients and healthy fats. The body's ability to recover depends on proper hormone production, and healthy fats can assist with that. These foods are also high in calories, so be careful of your portion size if you are trying to control your weight. Try: pumpkin seeds, canned wild salmon and walnuts.
Including more carbohydrates to your diet isn't a bad thing when you are training. It's the body's main source of energy, and the body burns fat better when carbs are readily available. Aim to include 40-65 percent of your calories from carbohydrate. This means 200-325 grams on a 2,000 calorie diet. If you are young, male, and/or training hard, you might require more than 4,000 calories a day, and should be including at least 500 grams of carbohydrate. Try: oatmeal, quinoa, sprouted wheat bread, and brown or other whole grain rices.
These help your body repair and grow lean tissue. Contrary to popular belief, the body doesn't use protein very well for energy (aka working out), so if you are lacking the right kinds of carbohydrates and healthy fats, your workouts may feel tough. Proteins are, however, very important to maintaining lean tissue, hormone production and regulating blood sugar. Try: egg whites, lentils, skim or low-fat dairy, edamame and other soy products, seafood and small portions of chicken, pork and lean red meat.