Many athletes are interested in replacing highly processed or engineered “sport foods” with minimally processed whole foods to improve their overall health. Check out Canada’s new Food Guide to Healthy eating – it’s primed for sport performance with a focus on minimally processed foods. The plate approach is an easy visual cue to help you get the types and relative amounts of foods you need to achieve your running goals https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
Choose Whole Foods (primarily plant based) for health and performance
This is a great time to weed out other processed “junk foods” and focus on a whole foods sport nutrition plate that includes plenty of raw and cooked vegetables and fruits, different sources of protein rich foods (pulses, Greek/Skyr style yogurts, soy/cow’s milk, eggs, fish, poultry, meats) and appropriate amounts of nutritionally rich sources of carbohydrate rich foods such as pulses, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pulses and minimally processed whole grain foods including oats, barley, rice, and quinoa based products.
For those looking for a less processed, more whole foods approach, using minimally processed foods during training supports performance as effectively as ingesting commercially available sport products. Common sense says that it could save you a lot of money too!
- Pre-workout fueling with oatmeal makes sure you have a steady supply of energy for your run. Try this PowerFuel Porridge recipe to get a taste of what many front of the pack runners start their day with.
- Fresh and dried fruit as well as potatoes (white, sweet, purple) pack a carbohydrate rich punch to keep you from running out of fuel in your longer runs.
- Plant based sources of protein, also known as pulses (e.g. chick peas, lentils, kidney beans), help kick start muscle refueling and diminish post workout inflammation. They are also a whole food source of iron, zinc, phosphorous, folate and other B-vitamins. Make your own hummus and grab a bag of cut up veggies for a post work-out snack or meal. Learn more about how to cook with pulses here: http://www.pulsecanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Cooking-With-Pulses.pdf
- Greek or Skyr yogurt with fruit or made into tzatziki adds a nice dose of the amino acid, leucine, (found in the whey part of the milk protein) to prime your muscles for recovery (and repair) post workout.
- Wrap things up with gluten rich whole grain pita bread to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. These bugs decrease gut inflammation (a side effect of too much exercise induced stress on the gut) and improve absorption of nutrients from the other foods that you eat.
Choose “WET” foods more often than “DRY foods to optimize your health and performance.
An athlete’s body is more than 50% water and maintaining that fluid balance is important for peak health and performance. Drinking water as your beverage of choice and drinking to thirst are key, but you can also improve your fluid balance and have better appetite control by choosing to eat WET foods more often than dry foods. Check this chart below and see where you could make some changes.
|Food Group||REPLACE Dry Foods||WITH Wet Foods|
Grains & Cereals
|Bread, toast, crackers|
Bars, cereal, popcorn
Muffins, cookies, cake
|Oatmeal, quinoa, rice|
Pasta, potato, barley
|Vegetables & Fruits||Dried fruit, potato chips||Fresh fruit/veggies|
Stir fried/steamed veggies
|Dairy and Soy Proteins||Cheese||Milk, yogurt, Kefir|
|Animal and Plant Proteins||Meat, poultry, fish|
Bean salads, lentil soup