Nutrition is as important as your training regime, if not more
Sports science is the study of performance and all the variables that contribute to the marginal gains that improve an athlete’s performance. Whenever someone asks me about these variables, the subject inadvertently veers towards supplementation, and whether or not we can actually trust the source of these supplements.
Having worked with professional athletes for close to two decades, I am amazed at how many athletes question the source of their supplements but are completely ignorant when questioned about the source of the food they ingest.
Most professional athletes train twice a day and eat between five to seven meals in a day, yet they have not deduced that the quality of their food impacts their healing, recovery, performance, psycho-logical and emotional well-being.
This realization sent me down a path that made me question not only the source of the food we eat, but also the most adequate preparation method that helps in unlocking the true potential of these super foods.
I have also worked closely with the nutrition experts at Herbalife Nutrition, which creates some of the world’s leading science-based nutrition products, to help decipher how natural and botanical ingredients can help you get the nutrition you need. I’m going to focus on six food items that we should incorporate into our nutrition plan. You should bear in mind that even if you are consuming quality supplements, it isn’t a substitute for quality food, which is something Herbalife Nutrition actively advocates as its healthy, active-life mantra in more than 90 countries.
LEMON & SEA SALT
Let’s kickstart with these two simple ingredients. Lemon, besides being a wonderful detoxification aid, has the purest concentration of negative ions compared to any other fruit. These ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness and more mental energy. It’s best to infuse freshly-cut lemon wedges in water to unlock lemon’s potential. Similarly, sea salt is the easiest swap you can do in your kitchen. Replace your table salt with Himalayan sea salt. It’s packed with essential minerals.
This contains 20 amino acids and is a complete source of plant protein. It is also nature’s most abundant source of essential fatty acids and has a perfect 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Shelled hemp is best eaten raw and should not be heated. The heat will denature its active amino acids.
The enzyme released from garlic triggers the production of hydrogen sulfide, which acts as an antioxidant. This is the reason why garlic-rich diets have proven beneficial in fighting many types of cancer. The best way to unlock its power is to crush the garlic bulbs and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. It’s also best to avoid heating these crushed bulbs.
One of the most powerful probiotics in the world, a small kefir drink could contain between two to three million live bacteria strains, making it essential for gut health. I’m a big advocate of kefir simply because with the amount of pesticides and chemicals in our food, this little drink could protect us from infection.
This time-honored super-food first originated in Chinese medicine more than 5,000 years ago. It’s a form of fungus that grows on the back of caterpillars at an altitude of 3,800 meters above sea level. When fully grown, they can consume up to 80 percent of the caterpillar and weigh between 300 to 500mg. These amazing fungi are known to improve stamina and athletic performance apart from being linked to improved immunity and lower respiratory track infection. They aren’t easy to find, but if you can get your hands on them, they could be very beneficial in improving your overall performance.
This gluten-free grain was the major source of protein for the Aztecs. Amaranth is a very tall plant with broad green leaves and vividly bright purple, red or gold flowers. Did you know that amaranth can be consumed as leaf, cereal grain or grain flour? With so much emphasis on gluten-free diets, this grain is really a wonderful substitute for traditional wheat.
Its benefits include lower cholesterol and better immunity, while amaranth is also said to aid in better digestion and reduced inflammation.
When an athlete is training, his or her body’s immunity drops significantly, making him or her vulnerable to infection. Even a minor infection can derail training and risk an entire competitive season. That’s why the quality of the food we eat is vitally important. Focusing on just a few simple changes in your diet—and supplementing it with excellent products from Herbalife Nutrition—could help yield wonderful results