By Andrea Falcone, RD
We know that exercise performance can be attributed to our training regimen, sleep, and nutrition – when we eat well, we perform better. Check out how some of these foods ignite your training spark plugs to go the extra mile.
Beets contain naturally occurring nitrates that have been proven a number of times to improve athletic performance by enhancing the production of oxygen used by working muscles.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Let’s talk about iron – it carries oxygen throughout the body, and most athletic performers fall short on this critical mineral. One ounce of pumpkin seeds brings in about 25 per cent of your daily iron needs, along with magnesium, another critical mineral to enhance endurance.
3. Chia Seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids and a ton of fibre – need we say more? One study noted that the combination of chia seeds with a carbohydrate-based drink (Gatorade) enhanced the performance of a sample population (albeit relatively small) who were exercising for more than 90 minutes. Fair warning, though – high doses of fibre may result in trips to the washroom, so you may want to try this one out before your big race day!
Though relatively low in calories, spinach is rich in nitrates and has been shown to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, which could translate into enhanced performance. To top this off, its iron helps carry more oxygen to your working muscles.
5. Clams and Mussels
The B vitamins help our body release energy from foods and help us build and repair muscle tissue. Perhaps of particular interest to athletes, adequate amounts of vitamin B12 are necessary for red blood cell production, protein synthesis, and the repair and maintenance of tissues. Including clams and mussels in your diet will boost your B12 status to support optimal performance.