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'Plus Foods' Hacks to Make you a Better Athlete

Updated: Aug 14, 2023


When looking at the complete athlete we need to look beyond the talent & effort and think about how their diet plays into their performance, recovery and inflammation. There is hidden inflammation within everyone and when your immune system is trying to heal that, it is at odds with healing workout and injury related inflammation.


A Functional Nutrition approach to this looks at all the bodies systems, diet and lifestyle and how they affect each other and the athlete. Below are nutrition and lifestyle changes you can make today to be a better and healthier athlete. These are just one part of our 12 week program for athletes!


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Water

Water is crucial to every system in your body. If you are dehydrated you will not perform to your best! You need to be drinking water all day whether you feel thirsty or not!

Your body needs a minimum of 64 ounces a day, before adding in your hydration needs for activity and weather. If you have a game or practice you should be drinking at least 32-64 more ounces in and around that session depending on temperature and intensity. Upon waking up, drinking 16 ounces will help kick off your brain and digestive system as well as all your body's systems. The best way to get your body's daily 64 ounce needs is to get a 64oz or 2x32oz container (I use a half gallon mason jar), fill it up in the morning with good, clean water, add some fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. If it is sitting on your desk or in your backpack, you will drink it by the end of the day. Plus you do not have to keep track of how many glasses you have had that day!


Greens

Leafy greens can be a lot more palatable than you think! My favorites are watercress, arugula and kale. All three can be chopped up finely like parsley and put into soups, pasta sauce, salads and more. In studies, watercress and arugula have been shown to heal damaged DNA within two weeks of eating daily. You should have a goal to eat one bag of arugula a week. Whether as a salad or mixed into other foods.


Leafy greens contain folate which is a part of red blood cell creation in your body! They also help with reducing inflammation in your body, hidden or not! Eat the greens often that you like and again, hide the ones in other foods you don’t. Watercress is fantastic on a sandwich!


Morning Shake

If you do not have the time for a good breakfast then a good shake/smoothie will set you up for success and recovery from your training the day before. Whether it is a good protein shake or a smoothie of low sugar yogurt, milk and fruit you can’t go wrong. Plus it counts towards your daily hydration! Click here for my morning shake recipe


A bagel or sugary cereal does not make a good breakfast. Don’t ever leave home hungry but you should be including eggs, fruit, or whole grains. If not then go the smoothie route!


One last note on smoothies and shakes. Make sure to chew as you drink to release digestive enzymes. Sounds crazy but trust me!


Sugar

Do you have a sugar addiction? The world health organization recommends keeping sugar intake to below 25 grams per day. I shoot for 20 or less. This includes any added sugars in food as well as in juices. This does not mean you should replace it with artificial sweeteners. Keep track for one day how much sugar you eat and you are probably up around 150 grams. Join one of our programs to get a detox plan as part of our overall


Carbs

When one thinks of carbo loading they think about pasta and bread the night before a game. While in moderation it is beneficial you should also be looking at a much more balanced diet over all and pre-game. Fruits and vegetables are full of carbs. Choose whole grain breads over white and wheat. If you want pasta the night before a game then eat half the amount of chosen pasta but add in meatballs and veggies like broccoli, spinach or arugula! Just look for balance. My favorite pasta is Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice pasta. That is a great substitute for wheat pasta.

Side note: I did Ironman Lake Placid in 1999 without a pasta dinner the night before.


Sleep

I am sure you hear this from everyone, but get enough sleep. Your body needs to recover and this is when it mostly happens. Plan ahead with work and school so that you are not staying up late catching up every night. Use weekends to catch up or start work for the week ahead!


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