Building a “Performance Plate” for Athletic Excellence

Boston is a great place for athletes and fans alike. We love our Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins. But this coming Monday, April 15, is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and the 123rd Boston Marathon. This world-class race brings many ages, genders, and performance levels to a challenging course each year. Training for a marathon involves logging in several miles of running over several months while remaining injury-free. But an athlete’s full potential can be delayed if they are not combining optimal fueling strategies with their training.

As a former marathon runner, I began keeping a food journal after running my second Boston Marathon. I quickly realized the difference between a “good” run and a not-so-good run. Hydration and sleep play a major role, but what I ate before, during, and after a long run made a huge impact on performance and recovery. Research has shown that endurance athletes who consume more calories perform better during a competition. But you need to train your intestinal track to see what works best for you. Meals and snacks with carbohydrates as the foundation and protein on the side offer the right balance for endurance training and successful competition.

Below are some guidelines that athletes may consider as a fundamental part of any training regimen in any endurance sport.

  1. Whole grains or energy-enhancing foods: 100 percent whole-wheat bread, bagels, tortillas, pita bread and crackers; brown rice; whole-grain pasta; beans; potatoes; oatmeal; whole-grain breakfast cereals; yogurt.
  2. Lean proteins or recovery/muscle-building foods: Grilled/baked/broiled/roasted chicken, fish, pork loin, turkey, sirloin and lean ground beef; eggs; low-fat cheese; tofu.
  3. Fruits and vegetables or antioxidant-rich foods: Apples; oranges; bananas; blueberries; grapes; melon; strawberries; broccoli; green beans; spinach; romaine lettuce; carrots; cauliflower; mushrooms; cucumbers; tomatoes.
  4. Fat or immunity/flavor-boosting foods: Salmon; tuna; nuts; seeds; olives; olive oil; canola oil; avocado; nut butters; oil-based salad dressings.
  5. Fluid or hydration-promoting beverages: Water; low-fat milk (cow, almond, soy, etc.); coconut water; sports drink with electrolytes; 100 percent fruit juice.

This will be my sixth year volunteering during marathon weekend and I continue to be inspired by all the athletes that come to our great city to run the Boston Marathon. “May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face.”

If you are running this weekend – good luck! If you are training for an athletic event of your own, no matter how big or how small, feel free to reach out and I will be happy to help you learn how to use food as fuel to reach your goals.

Quote of the week:

“All you need is the courage to believe in yourself and put one foot in front of the other.”

~ Katherine Switzer, First woman to run the Boston Marathon

Recipe of the Week: “Can’t Beet Me Smoothie”

Adapted from: Run Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

Beets are packed with antioxidants, inflammatory compounds, and naturally occurring nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure and improve brain function.

Ingredients:

1 cooked beet; peeled and quartered (Save time by using raw beets, instead of baked, and puree them in a high-speed blender).

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 small frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other milk of choice

1 cup coconut water

1-inch knob fresh ginger; peeled

1 Tbsp. almond butter

Place the beet, blueberries, banana, milk, coconut water, ginger, and almond butter in a blender. Blend on high speed for several minutes until smooth. Makes 2 servings (you can store extra serving in fridge for up to three days).

Published by

Leslie Ouellette

Listening and learning about nutrition, exercise, and health-related issues has been a life-long passion turned into action. I am most passionate about my family, friends, and good health. I am a business professional with over 30 years of expertise in marketing, market research, communications, writing, and editing. @balancedhealthblog

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