Ever wonder what foods make you stronger or faster? If you want to be stronger and faster it’s not just about putting the calories in to fuel training and performance. To really help boost your strength and increase your speed you have to think about the quality of the food you’re eating, making every mouthful count toward your goals.
To get stronger and faster your body has to work harder. So when you amp up your training, there’s not just extra demand for energy, but also increased demand for all the nutrients, macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and micronutrients (the little but important guys such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants), you’re losing during your workout.
Including these six groups of superfoods daily in your diet will help you on the road to becoming stronger and faster.
Daily Diet – List of Superfoods for Athletes and Runners:
Superior grains – Quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, sweet potato, amaranth and oats. These are nutrient-dense carbohydrates and they do more than just sustain your energy levels. Quinoa and buckwheat (these are actually seeds, but we treat them as grains) are also rich in protein. This makes them an ideal alternative for vegetarians as well as a great protein booster for anyone to help build muscles. Make them part of your pre-workout meal or recovery meal.
Berries – Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries and blackberries. These little bombs of antioxidants are the perfect superfood for runners. They do a great job helping your muscles recover after heavy workouts when you need it the most. They are also high in Vitamin C, which is important for tissue repair and collagen production which helps keep joints flexible. Use berries in smoothies for breakfast or add them to Greek yogurt for a snack.
Offal – Organ meats like liver, kidney, heart and tongue. A forgotten superfood for most athletes, offal is often a cheaper alternative to meat. Offal is loaded with iron and vitamin B12 which are vital for our oxygen-carrying capacity. When you do a tough workout low levels of these nutrients can impair your work capacity, slowing you down. If you’re not used to eating offal, start by mixing it into stews or a stirfry with other meats and beans or try to make your own pate.
Oily fish – Salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout. Fish provide an essential source of omega 3 fats, which have been shown to speed up muscle recovery. And as we know, proper recovery is key to improving your running time. Plus, some studies suggest eating omega 3 fats can help you burn fat and preserve muscle, making you lighter on your feet leaving you the potential to go faster. Along with offal, oily fish is also a powerhouse of protein, giving you what you need for muscle-building and repair.
Green Leafy Veg – Kale, spinach, swiss chard, cabbages, broccoli and romaine lettuce. These mighty veggies provide a source of calcium and potassium, which are important for muscle contraction. They also contain iron so they are a great veggie alternative for those who don’t eat meat. Add this superfood to salads, mix into a stir fry or make a green juice smoothie. If you’re not a fan of the strong flavors of kale or swiss chard, just throw lots of berries in there!
Seeds – Chia, flax, pumpkin, and sunflower. These little seeds of goodness provide another source of calcium and potassium along with magnesium which is also required for muscle contraction. They also pack a punch of zinc and selenium, which are vital for immunity and tissue recovery so you stay healthy enough to take your training to the next level. Chia and flax also contain omega 3 fats and you can use them to make your own energy bars, add to yoghurt, dressings or salads. Consider roasting your own pumpkin seeds (or any squash seed) with a little bit of salt or chili powder for flavor.
Working some of these superfoods for athletes and runners into your daily diet can help keep your energy level and muscle health where it needs to be to train for increased strength and speed. What are your favorite superfoods when you’re training?