It’s summer, and that means race season for many endurance athletes. No matter what athletic endeavor you pursue, how you train is important. But what you eat before, during, and after your race can also make a big difference in your performance and how you recover.
You might know the old favorites of pasta for the pre-race dinner and drinking chocolate milk after the race, but are they really the best food for racing and recovery? For most athletes, probably not.
So if pasta and chocolate milk are out, what should you eat pre- and post-race?
You’ll do great if you stick with whole foods like vegetables, fruits and lean proteins and add in these five foods to get an extra edge for racing and recovery.
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This is an ideal drink for before, during and after athletic activity. It’s packed with electrolytes like potassium and magnesium that your muscles need. Drink it straight during your race, or (if you don’t love the taste) mix it with a small amount of fruit juice. Use it as a base for smoothies for your pre- or post-race nutrition.
When you put in a hard effort racing, your body releases free radicals, which can damage healthy cells. Antioxidants help mitigate those free radicals, and berries are a great source. Berries also satisfy your desire for something sweet without sending you on the sugar roller coaster. Enjoy fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or cherries. Eat them alone, add them to cereal, or blend them in a smoothie.
Eating greens before or after your race might not sound appealing, but here’s why it’s a good idea. Green vegetables are high in chlorophyll, which increases the oxygen in your blood. More oxygen equals more energy, better endurance, and faster recovery. Greens are also packed with calcium, iron and antioxidants. Try adding greens like spinach or romaine to your morning smoothie, or enjoy cooked greens or a big salad as part of your post-race dinner and you’ll be on your way to more energy and a speedy post-race recovery.
These little super seeds will help you maintain your energy during your race and recover faster. Chia seeds are a great source of protein and antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation. They also replenish minerals that are lost through sweat like magnesium, potassium, and calcium needed for muscle contractions. Blend them into your smoothie, add them to cereal, or make a chia pudding by soaking the chia seeds in nut milk.
This one might surprise you, but avocado is high in monounsaturated fat, which is easily burned for energy. They 'e also high in potassium (more then bananas) and B vitamins, which boost your energy. The anti-inflammatory properties of avocados help reduce joint pain and muscle fatigue. Add them to a salad or wrap, enjoy some guacamole, or use them in a smoothie.