5 Ways to Increase Your Athletic Performance Through Your Diet
Improving your training or crushing your gym sessions is possible through solid nutrition.
You may have heard abs start in the kitchen - and it’s true. Before you can crush it at the gym or on the field, professional athletes or even at-home gym heroes looking to up their game need the right fuel to perk up performance. That means getting the proper mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats alongside adequate hydration and some natural performance boosters.
Upping performance also means maintaining an anti-inflammatory state.
“At Dr Smood, we advocate a plant-based diet with the best quality of protein. These can be derived from vegetarian sources or animal sources.” says Dr Etti Ben-Zion, VP of Research and Development at Dr Smood. “Studies shows a diet consisting of at least half plant based-foods puts the body in an anti-inflammatory state.”
Ready to charge your workouts? Here are are 5 ways to increase your athletic performance through diet.
Protein is a crucial building block for gaining and maintaining muscle mass, as well as aiding in repair and recovery.
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This means:
56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
But athletes or those looking to up their game or build muscle should aim to eat between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight every day. No matter if you are vegan or vegetarian, you can still make athletic gains through plant-based sources of protein.
If getting enough protein sounds daunting - don’t sweat it (leave that for the gym). Some easy ways to up your protein intake are to spread it throughout the day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try Dr Smood’s Protein Chia w/ Blueberry Coulis & Hemp Crumble at breakfast - it packs 19 grams of pea plant-protein and taste like blueberry pie. Chia seeds are also full of satiating fiber and contain 4 grams of protein per tablespoon. For a quick sip of protein on-the-go or post-workout, ask your barista for a Green Protein Smoody (21 grams). This protein and veggie bomb is made with a combination of quinoa, sprouted brown rice, pea, and amaranth proteins.
Adding quality, all-organic, lean animal proteins to your morning avocado toast, salad or sandwich, like in our Cold Turkey Sandwich (59 grams), not only increases protein intake, but helps you feel fuller for longer.
For vegetarians, foods like hummus and quinoa contain natural plant protein.
“You can certainly still make significant progress with muscle gain, improving performance, and any other goal you may have through plant-based protein sources,” says Ben Lauder-Dykes, NASM, PICP Strength & Conditioning coach, Precision Nutrition coach, personal trainer & Fhitting Room instructor.
And while many plant-based sources of proteins are ‘incomplete,’ meaning they do not have all eight necessary amino acids, Dr Smood’s offering of plant-based proteins come as ready-to-consume complete formulated proteins.
You may see athletes or gym-goers downing protein powders immediately after a set or workout, the quality of your protein is more important than your timing.
“There is no ‘best’ time [to consume protein] as long term protein turnover (protein synthesis versus protein breakdown) over a 24 hour period/7 day period is more important than an individual meal. The effects of a protein rich meal can span 4-6 hours, so if you train anytime between breakfast, lunch or dinner then the meal you have before your workout could/would be more important; but if you train in the morning fasted then obviously post workout becomes more important,” says Lauder-Dykes.
As a general rule, Lauder-Dykes recommends a protein rich meal about 2 hours before and 2 hours after a workout.
Hydration is more than just drinking water; it’s the relationship and balance between water and solutes. When we exercise we use both - and when we sweat we lose both.
“When it comes to exercise, electrolytes play an important role in water being pushed into the muscle cells to help us create energy,” says Lauder-Dykes.
Hydrating with electrolytes before, during, and after your workout is an effective form of recovery that every pro or home athlete needs to perk up performance and avoid injury. Reach for a recovery drink after a particularly sweaty workout to replace lost fluids, electrolytes, and glycogen (the energy your muscles use to push you through exercise). You should drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day or more if you’re sweating a lot from a workout or the weather.
Our revitalizing electrolyte filled Coconut Water is made from the purest, certified organic young Thai coconuts. It’s filled with key minerals and natural sugars necessary to speed recovery, prevent muscle cramps, and hydrate yourself back to top-functioning shape.
SLOW BURN CARBS
Quality carbs in the tank are necessary to give your muscles quick-acting fuel, aka glycogen, to crush your workout. Carbs boost not only marathon performance, but high-intensity interval training as well according to studies. But that doesn’t mean reaching for candy bars or simple carbs like white, processed bagels, cookies or bread. Instead, go for smart, slow-burn complex carbs that give your muscles a steady stream of energy that the body will efficiently convert into glycogen.
A low glycemic index (GI) bread like Dr Smood Performance Bread is a nutritionist formulated recipe of ancient millet and spelt flakes that reduces sugar cravings and spikes so you don’t gas out in the middle of a set. A modest serving of oatmeal, like Hot Oatmeal or Raw Oatmeal w/ Raspberry Coulis before a workout gives muscles the energy they need to steadily perform interval after interval.
EAT FAT (THE GOOD KIND)
Surprise! Fats are actually super important in an athlete’s diet. They provide energy, fat-soluble vitamins, and essential fatty acids and reduce exercise-induced damage (inflammation) to your muscles. Proteins and carbohydrates usually take the spotlight when it comes to athletic performance, but it’s essential to monitor healthy fat intake in order to drive long duration energy. While carbohydrates provide energy during short-duration or low-intensity exercise, fats make up the majority of energy during longer or more intense workouts, especially for endurance athletes. Also, a lack of fat in your diet prevents hormones that manage biochemical reactions in your body, driving growth, development, recovery from being in balance, impairing athletic performance and recovery.
But butter isn’t better when it comes to fats (or bacon and cheeseburgers) - go for mono-or-polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3s and 6s from whole sources like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut and olive oils and quality animal meat. Try an Avocado Toast or Dr Smood Performance Sandwiches, which combines smartly layered low-GI toasted Performance Bread, sliced avocados rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, Greek PDO olive oil and lean quality proteins.
But first, coffee. A cup of coffee can intensify your workout. It’s a stimulant that improves focus, revs up the central nervous system, helping you push harder during a workout and increase the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, which effects pain receptors and mood while you’re working out. So, you’ll be able to bust out that last rep or set AND feel great while doing it. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Science found that participants who consumed coffee before running 1,500 meters on the treadmill completed their run 4.2 seconds faster on average than the control group. Research also finds that when people caffeinated before a workout, they ate 72 fewer calories later in the day and had an easier time keeping cravings in check.
Not a coffee drinker? Swap it for a matcha (ground green tea powder) like our Matcha Latte or Matcha & Maca Chia Pudding, which is also rich in antioxidants and nutrients.