The health and wellness world can be pretty overwhelming. What you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat, vegan, vegetarianism, raw, paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free are all incredibly contradicting (and confusing!) When you toss exercise into the mix, what you should be consuming gets a little bit more complicated.
A happy balance of nutrients, which is generally high in lean protein, low in fat, and moderate complex carbohydrates should be what you strive for daily. It is important to make sure you are getting the right nutrients from your diet and in the right quantities, especially if you’re a runner, yogi, endurance training, cross-training, or lifting.
A happy balance of nutrients is a great way to keep your energy levels high, boost your immune system, and sustain yourself throughout your day and training.
Here are a few nutrient-dense foods and the nutritional benefits of each.
Greens (kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus) – A great source of iron fuelling the body. Low iron restricts your body’s ability to produce hemoglobin and thus reduces its oxygen-carrying capacity. And we all know, in order to complete a great workout, oxygen is very necessary.
Kiwis, Tomatoes, and Red Peppers – Packed full of vitamin C. They boost your immune system and fight off illness. Most colorful fruits have high levels of vitamins in them so vary your fruit intake. Every time you visit the supermarket try a new one. Some fruits and vegetables such as apples and red onions are rich in the antioxidant of quercetin which boosts muscle endurance. Fruits are also a GREAT source of complex carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates are great for athletes.
Seeds and Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds) – Seeds and nuts are easy to take with you when you travel and a great energy booster. Seeds and nuts are generally packed full of Omega 3’s, protein, and contribute to your daily calcium, zinc, manganese, and iron requirements.
Eggs – A great source of protein, especially for those who are vegetarian. If you are not a fan of eggs try protein shakes, almonds, quinoa, and yogurt.
Fish (wild caught, no color added Salmon) – Salmon has high levels of Omega 3, which reduces heart disease, nourished the brain, and can lower blood pressure. Salmon is a great lean protein as well.
Bananas – Great source of magnesium, fiber, and potassium which helps to reduce muscle cramps.
Sweet Potato – Sweet potatoes contain the important carbs and are an excellent source vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. They’re also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Try these easy to make sweet potato fries.
Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk – Source of Calcium and great recovery drink after a run.
Ginger and Mustard – Strange, but true. These ingredients are great for muscle aches.
Green tea – Green tea is packed with antioxidants which fight off infection. If you don’t like green tea try white tea or an herbal tea like peppermint instead. Chai tea is also a great black tea and natural source of caffeine.
Herbs and Spices – Herbs like rosemary have great anti-inflammatory properties whereas parsley, mint, and coriander can be great for digestion and stomach cramps. Be sure to stock up on these. Try adding them to your cooking. Mint is great when infused with H20.
Coconut – This multifunctional food is an absolute must. Coconut boasts lauric acids, medium-chain triglycerides, and a silky, buttery taste. Lauric acid has been shown to increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. Coconut oil can also boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy, and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Switch to coconut spread instead of butter, cook with refined coconut oil (no coconut taste – use like olive oil), mix a spoonful of coconut oil into your morning tea, and switch to low-glycemic coconut sugar.
Electrolyte Enhancing Drinks (Coconut water, NUUN tablets) – These drinks replace minerals lost in training, through sweat, especially when it’s hot.
Choose to Nourish,