Found on Ironman.com and written by Pip Taylor
Put these unexpected foods to work in your training, racing and recovery.
You might think you have your recovery nutrition down and your race day fueling nailed, but what about your daily nutrition? You’ve no doubt heard of so-called “super foods,” complete with their super price tag and super claims attached. I guarantee that you have at least three of the the five foods below in your fridge or pantry already. They are cheap, and can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways.
Go ahead, be surprised.
Eggs: Eggs are an endurance athletes’ best friend. Containing the highest quality protein of all foods, eggs are in the gold standard for protein. All the essential amino acids are represented in an egg: lysine, threonine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, phenylanine, tryptophan, histidine and methionine, and their protein is highly digestible (meaning it can be retained and used by our tissues.)
Eggs are also rich in vitamins, minerals, Omega 3 fats and antioxidants, and contribute significantly to energy production, strength and power as well as muscle synthesis and recovery. Convenient, cheap and easy to prepare make eggs an athlete-friendly dish for busy triathletes.
Butter: Yes, you read that right. Butter’s saturated fat is not the villain it was once thought to be, and in fact offers many health benefits. Saturated fats are necessary for brain function, support the immune system and metabolism, as well as cell structure and function. Butter is also not only a good source of vitamins (A, D, E and K) but is necessary for absorption of fat-soluble nutrients in vegetables. For triathletes burning through calories in multiple daily training sessions, butter provides energy and assists in production of hormones that help buffer the stress of intense exercise.
Turmeric: This root resembles ginger, but is most commonly found in powdered form or as part of a curry powder blend. Studies have shown that compounds in turmeric may inhibit production of inflammatory markers in muscle tissue, and enhance post-exercise muscle repair. Turmeric has also been shown to assist with circulation and the delivery of oxygen to working muscles.
Peppermint: Simply smelling peppermint may help boost your performance. Studies reveal that speed and strength are positively affected by the odor of peppermint or spearmint. You could consider adding fresh mint leaves to your drink or trying something mint flavored during that next key workout or race for a natural performance boost.
Chocolate: Cocoa is one of the richest sources of antioxidants we know of so far, and has been proven to have positive effects when it comes to heart and cardiovascular health. High levels of magnesium also mean it is beneficial for muscle function. But one of the latest findings that’s most applicable to triathletes is that cocoa has the ability to act as a mild sunscreen. When consumed in just 20 grams of dark chocolate, flavanols—one of the many antioxidants in cocoa—reduce UV-induced skin burning and help to fight off skin cancers. For triathletes, time in the sun is a given, making this a delicious and necessary addition to any diet. (Note: it is the cocoa that contains the health benefits, so consuming dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is the way to go.)
Want to aid your hard training with performance-enhancing foods? Get creative in the kitchen and put these foods to work in your diet.
Pip Taylor is a nutritionist and professional triathlete.