In our apartment, we have a dedicated cupboard to smoothie supplies and running performance recovery foods. I’m not talking like performance enhancers per se, but rather foods to aid and accelerate recovery and foods to fuel for optimal health, which lead to better performance.
It kind of looks like this special medicine cabinet when you open it up, with jars here, and containers there and open packages still half full. And then unopened ones because I’m paranoid about running out of certain things.
But they all have a purpose and a role, and they’re all for good reason, and I love learning about new superfoods to try and educating myself on the benefits of each. Especially the benefits as it relates to running!
When it comes to maximizing your running recovery and keeping your body in optimal condition to give you the results you are after, finding foods that are more nutrient dense and offer a greater range of benefits is incredibly important.
Superfoods, similar to my post a few weeks ago about functional foods, have a wider range of benefits to the body and are able to more effectively facilitate recovery, boost your energy and increase the internal workings of your body at a cellular level. This is where we need our improvement the most, as this is the first area of damage.
Here’s 7 superfoods you should be adding to your regular diet to improve your running:
// Maca -Maca powder is an adaptogen, which means, it enhances the body’s ability to deal with stress, both physical and psychological, by understanding what the body needs and facilitating adaptations accordingly. This is especially prominent on the endocrine system, which releases our hormones, and maca is able to boost the endocrine system to allow for better hormonal regulation. Hormones are what allow us to experience a runner’s high, be excited and get the adrenaline rush you are used to standing at a start line, and the drive and grit to push through when things get tough. Given the prominence of the role of all of these things in running, maca is a very important ingredient to add to your pantry.
// Moringa – The all in one superfood powder, moringa comes from the leaves of the moringa tree and has several health benefits. Because it is a plant, and you are consuming the leaves, you are getting a great dose of chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant responsible for the green colour of plants. The leaves are also packed with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C for boosting immune health, an important component of health in terms of running, as the constant physical stress on the body is demanding on the immune system. Furthermore, this powder is helpful for treating blood disorders, meaning it is great for runners due to our tendency towards anemia courtesy of the pounding on the bottom of our feet. Finally, moringa boosts energy and has anti-inflammatory properties and is also high in fiber.
// Turmeric – The infamous anti inflammatory, turmeric is a great addition to your running pantry. It gets its anti-inflammatory properties from curcumin, the naturally occuring chemical compound that is also responsible for its deep yellow colour. Anti-inflammatories are an important part of your running diet, as there is regularly residual inflammation within the body, and failure to address it can lead to it increasing, which then can lead to injury. The vibrant colour of turmeric means it is also a great source of antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. The process of energy production naturally produces free radicals, and we require adequate intake of antioxidants to help combat these and ensure they don’t accumulate within our body, leading to decreased energy supply and damage to tissues and organs.
// Beetroot powder – Another antioxidant, as seen from its bright red colour, the main benefit of beetroot is due to their content of nitrates. Upon consuming beets, or using beetroot powder, the nitrate is converted to nitric oxide within the body, and this nitric oxide functions to improve blood circulate and blood oxygenation, improve muscle contraction and aid in neurotransmitter function (the signals for your hormones). Collectively, by improving the oxygen presence in your blood, and then improving how well that blood can flow, while simultaneously enhancing the efficiency of muscle contraction and delivery of hormonal messages, the result is better running, as all of these things play a big role in how well we are able to run.
// Greens – My greens powder falls in the category of one that I am paranoid about running out of. While I consume a lot of fresh greens (pretty much at every meal), having a greens powder offers a nice boost to your daily greens intake and can b filled with way more than you would expect. Greens powders are not simply the dehydrated, powdered form of spinach and kale. They are that, plus sea vegetables, probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and much more all in one. Each of these things alone are incredibly important for boosting running performance via enhancing energy, improving the function of body systems and enhancing absorption of vitamins and minerals, but when taken together, greens powder can go a long way in helping you run better and make of for deficiencies in your diet which may be detrimental to your running performance.
// Matcha – This is my current favourite pre run, or post run energy source. Made of green tea leaves, ground into a fine powder, this tea is rich in antioxidants and is a natural energy stimulant. this makes it a great choice for days when you need a little boost of energy to help you on your run, but don’t want the crash as is often associated with caffeine. Furthermore, the naturally occurring catechins in matcha tea, offer disease-fighting abilities which help prevent us from acquiring immune debilitating infections. Catechins are another form of antioxidants, and are the same ones which are found in raw cacao, giving it its incredible health properties.
// Baobab -When it comes to athletes, magnesium, is a very important mineral. It is responsible for supporting the adrenal glands, and is known as the “anti-stress” mineral. Low levels of magnesium can result in low energy, muscle cramps, as well as unhealthy bone structure due to its role in working with calcium to maintain bone health. Most importantly though, magnesium is essential in the prevention of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue occurs when the body is subjected to continuous stress (i.e. running) without adequate rest or recovery time. Consuming adequate magnesium through a superfood like Baobab powder is a great way to ensure proper intake. Furthermore, the powder is rich in vitamin C, important for immune health, as discussed above. Other superfood powders that are a source of Vitamin C include Macqui powder and Camu Camu powder.