Mother Nature Would Make a Great Athlete

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Personal Fitness By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Personal Fitness
Last updated: 12/02/2018
Tags: natural supplements, sports nutrition

Why is it that we are talking about sports nutrition products as if they are sports nutrition? Why are so many athletes consuming such poor quality, nutrient devoid products?

The field of sports nutrition has been so dominated by products, most of us seem to have forgotten that the most important part of your race preparation and performance enhancing nutrition is your food, not your products. That's not to say that the race day products aren't important - they blatantly are. And the good ones are life changing for an athlete. But if you're remotely serious about performing anywhere near your best, you must harness the power of food produced by the evolutionary processes of mother nature herself. And by doing this, you will squeeze a race winning advantage over your competitors.

And talking of 'food', even the most basic definition would fall somewhere in the category of "substance that can be eaten without harm and that provides an element of nutrition needed by the body". I’d like to see someone argue that hydrolised fats, or artificial sweeteners, fall in to the 'food' category with this type of definition in mind! Quite simply, the more trans fats and sweeteners you take on board over time, the slower you’ll race. Use high quality, natural products and your times will improve.

To really maximise the advantages available from both food and products, you must consider the requirements of your body at a cellular level. Every function and movement of your body requires a highly complex interaction of billions of cells split into thousands of different types. This interaction, and the environment it occurs in, ultimately controls your performance as an athlete. The evolution of food has coincided with the evolution of animals to satisfy all of these cellular requirements. Quite simply, no product, or processed food, comes anywhere near this level of sophistication. You can only complete this process, and optimise your performance, by eating food that is natural (organic or wild), fresh (as close to harvest as possible) and raw (unspoiled by processing or cooking).

So how can you harness the power of real food? Here are some every day rules and tips to help you build real speed in the short and long term:

Eat Raw - Add as much raw veg as possible to every cooked meal: carrots, cucumber, tomato, courgette, peppers, broccoli, cabbage - the list is endless. In order to digest and utilise the nutrients in cooked food, your digestive system needs enzymes. Enzymes are only present in raw food, so you must add something fresh, organic and raw to every cooked meal to gain real benefits in speed and power. Add organic, raw nuts and seeds to breakfast to start the day with a shot of mins, vits, essential fats and proteins that will increase your energy all day. For a great breakfast on the run, munch your way through assorted nuts, raisins and plain, organic rice cakes.

Sprout - there are 2 ways to make beans, or legumes, edible: cook them or sprout them. The tins of kidney beans, chick peas, etc., that you buy have been cooked. They are devoid of micronutrition (minerals, vitamins, enzymes, phytonutrients, etc.). For real power and speed, eat sprouted beans. These have been soaked and effectively started to grow. At this stage they become a powerhouse of nutrition - a true 'superfood'. Loaded with bioavailable proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, fibre - just about everything you need to build a high performance body. You can buy them in punnets from supermarkets and health food shops, get them delivered by organic delivery companies, or even better grow them yourself. You can find plenty of videos on youtube showing you how.

Juice - the best way to extract large volumes of performance enhancing micronutrients from veg is to juice it. Different from blending, or smoothies, juicing spits the pulp, or fibre, out one end, and delivers you the nutrient packed juice the other. It enables you to extract the nutrition from a much higher quantity of veg than you could munch your way through. You still need to eat something raw with every meal for fibre and enzymes, but for those of you who are really serious about building high performance bodies, this will take it one step further. Try starting by juicing :

Half large cucumber, half a head of celery, one apple, one carrot, one lump of ginger.

This should make about 1 pint of juice - down it within 2-3 minutes of juicing to prevent it from oxidising. Repeat 1-2 times per day, on an empty stomach.

Supplement - given that the training requirements, let alone demands of everyday life, make spending time on preparing food a little difficult in 21st century living, some intelligent short cuts are a good idea. It is now possible to deliver some of the complex nutrition needed by the body in supplement form. You should use these in addition to your training and race products. For example, using a powdered form of fruits and veg, with algaes and grasses added, can replace juicing if the latter is not an option. Try 'greens for life' as a start to everyday - loaded with barley grass, fruits and veg, enzymes, probiotic, fibre, antioxidants and algaes, it gives your body a serious (entirely legal!) energy and health boost. If you prefer pills go for high quality (you get what you pay for), like solgar, mannatech or similar. Get advice from a qualified nutritionist to coordinate your nutrition plan. Avoid low cost, poor quality supplements like the plague!

All the standard rules of eating good quality complex carbs, protein and fats still apply. Baked potatoes and brown rice should be on the menu regularly for fuel. Pasta should only be eaten in combination with vegetables, preferably raw. Top tip: replace half of the pasta you would have eaten in any one meal with sprouted beans or raw veg, add sauce, and you’ve quadrupled the energy giving properties of your meal!

When it comes to meat, fish and dairy, always buy organic. The increased saturated fat, decreased protein, antiviral drug residue and decreased mineral and vitamin content of non organic varieties will slow you down. Every muscle fibre in your body is made from protein you eat, and is replaced regularly. The higher the quality of the protein you eat, the better these muscle fibres will serve you. Have at least one serving of high quality meat, fish or eggs a day, and plenty of plant based protein (nuts, beans, pulses) for optimum results.

In summary, ignore the power of mother nature's nutrition at your peril! You are willing to poor hours of sweat, blood and tears into your training - putting a little effort into underpinning this with great nutrition will always make you faster, and happier!

Nick Berners-Price Personal Fitness Trainers (South West London)

About The Author

Hi. I'm a Health, Fitnes and Performance Coach and Advanced Remedial Personal Trainer. I have over 20 years experience and am Managing Director of 4D Fitness UK.

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