With all of the talk about who is getting busted for past and present use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances in professional sports, let's talk about how you can improve performance LEGALLY!!
Two words: EAT BETTER!! Okay, it doesn't sound as sexy but it works. I know it does. As the team nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals I have witnessed many professional players, both rookies and veterans who discover how puting better foods into thier body CAN give them a competitive edge. Two of the best examples of this are the only two Kansas City Chiefs selected for the Pro Bowl this year- Tony Gonzalez and Jared Allen. Both of these players made significant changes before starting the 2007 season. Tony Gonzalez had a fantastic year breaking several NFL records. This comes after making major changes in his diet when he swore off eggs, dairy, and red meat. Most of his meals are vegan. He feels better than ever after giving up the high-fat, high-calorie, low nutrition foods that many professional athletes use to fuel their million dollar bodies. Jared Allen did the same. Although he didn't switch to vegetarianism like Tony, he now puts high peformance fuel into his own gas tank which helped provide him with the energy to lead the NFL in sacks this year and earn his first trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
So, here are 5 simple steps to fuel your own body for optimal performance and you don't have to be a professional athlete to reap the benefits!
1. Eating the right carb and protein combination can most definitely enhance muscle building and energy levels. Research shows that immediately following exercise you should have your first recovery calories in the form of a beverage with a ratio of about 3-4:1 carbs:protein. You want to do this within 15-30 minutes after exercise/training. Waiting even 2 hours can impair recovery. You can make yourself a recovery smoothie with some organic milk or almond/rice milk. Note: I am not a soy fan. A scoop of protein powder and add in some fresh or frozen fruit. This is the all natural performance enhancing formula.
2. Avoid drinking your calories...yes, I'm talking sodas, fruit juices, and alcohol. Did you know your "Guy's Night" can easily add up to a whopping 1000-1500 calories! If you are drinking 6-10- 12 oz LIGHT beers (600-1000 calories), 6 mixed drinks (1200 calories), 10 oz of orange juice per day (55,662 calories in one year). Also, watch out for the Starbucks on steroids. Many coffee drinks are over 500 calories! Yikes! Drinking calories is the culprit of many of my clients struggle to control their weight (both athletes and non-athletes). Are you drinking calories which can be easily replaced with water or tea (green, white)?
3. Eat more plant foods instead of foods made in plants! Aim to eat more fruits and vegetables like blueberries and spinach. Make a morning smoothie to start your day with some high performance fuel! My personal favorite is some 1% organic milk with either fresh/frozen berries and a banana, a scoop of protein powder, and some uncooked oatmeal. Yummy! You can throw in nutrient-rich spinach to start your day off right. It might sound gross but you really can't taste it...this is Tony's trick for getting some vegetables in his morning smoothie.
4. Stop eating when you feel satisfied. Notice, I did not mention feeling full, stuffed or sick. SATISFIED.
5. Get rid of white foods in your panty and start eating whole grains. I'm talking white rice, bread, pasta, pancake mix, English muffins, etc.- throw it in the trash. Switch to whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pancake mix, whole wheat tortillas, whole-wheat cous cous. Always read the nutrition labels and look for the words whole wheat or whole grain as the first ingredient listed. Try foods like quinoa, which can easily be substituted in recipes which call for rice.
Cheers to a Happy, Healthy, and High Energy 2008!!