A recent pair of questions that came into the Nutrient Rich Support Center centered around what to eat before and after competition.
Q1: Where can I find a really good article on the best healthy food choices for athletes (need something for my 16 yr old runner who is vegetarian) and thought it might be better if the info came from an external source – also explaining when and how to feed the body
Q2: if you were to recommend just one nutrient-rich shake for a college kid – what would it be?
This is a subject we really love here at Nutrient Rich because there is so much ground to break when it comes to understanding the best food choices for active people and athletes; particularly, athletes who automatically assume that they need to be consuming huge amounts of protein and from sources that are known to compromise health. This author, did no different having grown up in the worlds of football and bodybuilding; but over time, once a nutrient rich body is developed that is nourished, detoxified, stabilized and strengthened with micronutrient-rich foods, the need for eating excess protein for example goes away.
So here are answers to these questions:
Note: one of the best articles on the subject of eating a plant-based nutrient rich diet is Fueling the Vegan Athlete by Joel Fuhrman M.D. and Deana M. Ferreri. In it, you will read a great deal of the science behind what we’re talking about in the answer below.
A1: The best food choices for athletes are the same as they are for people eating for health – “nutrient rich” foods, only now more of them and at times better timed for performance purposes. For example you don’t want to eat a big salad before competition. There would be too much fiber. As you may know, underlying a nutrient rich healthy “superfood” eating style, is what’s known as the Performance Lifestyle mindset, which always focuses on function and fueling the body right, even before factoring in taste!
Athletes can also eat more nuts (healthy fats) and seeds, avocado and starchy vegetables as they have greater caloric expenditure and are likely not overweight. For performance though, they will need even more health-promoting nutrient-rich foods, which keep the immune system strong and maintain a healthy foundation to support performance and endurance. Endurance in the the sense that when you keep the body’s internal environment clean, with minimal obstruction from roaming saturated fat and cholesterol etc. you will experience faster oxygen uptake and will have less waste to deal with. This will result greater efficiency. So this means, leafy greens, green vegetables, beans, fruits, raw, non salted nuts and seeds, whole grains and starchy vegetables in order of their general order of nutrient density and calorie density.
A2: Regarding shakes, there are lots of good shakes out there, most of which focus on creating a strong plant-based protein profile. And while athletes need to consume more protein than the non-athletes, the healthiest way to increase protein is to increase food intake due to greater caloric need, not load up on IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone) raising isolated soy proteins and animal proteins. Some hemp, rice and pea protein complexes are fine, and again should be from whole food sources mixed with whole foods and or whole food juice powders that are high in micronutrients.
There is no demonstrated benefit for an athlete to consume more than 2 gIkgj1 Id j1 protein, and in fact, excess protein may affect negatively calcium stores, kidney function, bone health, and cardiovascular health (11,15).
Nevertheless, plant protein concentrates such as maca, pea, rice, and hemp protein powders are options when the athlete desires to remain vegan or considerably reduce dependency on animal products yet still support a high body mass.
We promote the idea that adding super foods to your life and training, in their original packaging such as orange or a goji berry for example; or eating them as close to their original packaging as possible in the form of natural products as a way to nourish the body at higher levels with greater convenience, and in coordination with nutrient rich healthy eating that focuses you on eating mostly nutrient rich super foods for the best results. We offer and promote, a compilation of the best consumable products not only for athletes but also the active woman or man, who is living a performance lifestyle – the underlying lifestyle philosophy we ascribe to for living a healthy lifestyle successfully and achieving out goals.
All natural products we promote, focus less on protein complexes (since we focus more on food here) and more on micronutrient richness, including natural levels of rapidly absorbed amino acids like one would get in any of the cereal grasses. Athletes love Living Barley Grass.
One of the best examples is Jon Hinds founder of the Monkey Bar Gym chain, and former NBA strength coach and trainer to people like Woody Harrelson and Tony Robbins. Not only does this 220 lbs., exceptionally fit man take Living Barley greens for faster, nutrient rich recovery, he runs all of his 60 day fitness challenges, with Living Barley greens which are low calorie, high in micronutrients (vitamin, mineral and thousands of phytonutrients) relatively-rich in macronutrient amino acids, glucose and essential fatty acids, at levels appropriate to the original whole food.
Here is a product selector for how we use these products here at Nutrient Rich: http://www.nutrientrich.com/superfood-nutrition-product-selector
11: Frank H, Graf J, Amann-Gassner U, et al. Effect of short-term highprotein compared with normal-protein diets on renal hemodynamics and associated variables in healthy young men. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2009; 90(6):1509Y16.
15: Halbesma N, Bakker SJ, Jansen DF, et al. High protein intake associates with cardiovascular events but not with loss of renal function.J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 2009; 20(8):1797Y804.