I believe everyone is an athlete. That makes every table a training table. Whether you’re “training” for weight/fat-loss or have competitive goals, this requires energy. Sustained energy comes from what we eat, with certain foods packed with so much nutrition that we could consider them “Superfoods.”
I recommend that nearly all natural foods are health-enhancing, with each individual deciding which particular ones make them feel the best. Organic choices are typically ideal because they contain less chemical residue and usually are higher in nutrients than conventional foods. Locally grown items are particularly good.
Natural foods should be our main source of nutrients rather than relying on dietary supplements, which are not always a healthy choice. An exception is fish oil—as most fish will not supply adequate EPA and DHA, nor will flax oil. This dietary supplement is important for most people.
Of course, avoiding all junk food is just as important if optimal performance is the goal. As vital as exercise is, eating well is at least as important. Gone are the days when healthy meat and fat, especially eggs, were considered something to avoid.
Below are five key Superfoods. Regular consumption—even daily intake—can significantly contribute to improved performance while encouraging to optimal health:
The best meat is organic and completely grass fed. When cooked rare or medium rare, the high amount of the amino acid glutamine (destroyed by cooking) is the fuel for the gut, helping other foods get absorbed. This helps ensure we obtain all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and macronutrients from our diet. Beef also contains the most easily absorbed form of iron, vital for red blood cells and muscle function.
- Leafy vegetables
The best ones are spinach, beet greens (the roots are great too), kale, dark lettuces, and dandelion. These contain many nutrients, including folate. Lentils, asparagus, beef and turkey are also particularly high in natural folate. A surprising number of people are unknowingly low or deficient in folate, one of the B vitamins necessary to help make red blood cells to carry oxygen to the muscles. Synthetic folic acid (found in almost all dietary supplements and processed flour and other packaged foods) can be less effective and often dangerous.
- Egg yolks
Whole eggs are very healthy foods. The yolk is where most nutrients are found, and eating them often can improve your health. Choline, an important nutrient found in egg yolks more than any other food, is vital for the body to better cope with stress. Egg yolks of healthy chickens are also high in vitamin A. There’s a misconception that fruits and vegetables have lots of vitamin A, which is untrue. The beta-carotene in plant foods must be converted to vitamin A, not something that’s done very effectively in humans, and the reason animal foods are so important.
- Coconut oil
Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are popular in supplement form to improve energy, but why not eat the real thing—virgin coconut oil? It’s great for cooking, smoothies, in recipes, even coffee!
Exercise can create significant oxidative stress, which slows recovery and speeds aging. To combat this, the body requires various vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients for use as antioxidants—which should come from food not pills. Blueberries may be the best single-food source of these nutrients. Just a half-cup a day, frozen or fresh, can significantly help combat oxidative stress. Spinach and other vegetables, and even beef, also contain important nutrients to combat oxidative stress.