Boost your diet with these better-for-you products.
I’ve observed that emerging food trends show runners don’t have to look far for healthy, tasty, and convenient foods to fuel their performances. In fact, last year, sales in the organic, natural, and functional food industry were up 8.1 per cent with a value of US$134 billion (A$178 billion; NZ$190 billion).
Here’s what we think is worth considering.
Shelves are filling up with innovative, fortified foods, including soft drinks, beer, popcorn, cookies, nut butters, and yes, sweets. Manufacturers are trying to give their health-conscious consumers more bang for their buck by adding vitamins and minerals to everyday products. Protein seems to be in everything right now: pancakes, breads, bagels, pasta and cookies.
Thirsty? Try cola-flavored kombucha, which is an excellent source of probiotics – something soft drinks definitely don’t have.
Or for a snack, ramp up your popcorn with spirulina – an algae rich in B vitamins, beta-carotene, and zinc.
Bill Rogers once said, “More marathons are won or lost in the porta-loo than at the dinner table.” Luckily, there’s help for the astounding number of runners whose GI distress has disrupted their performances.
Fermented foods and foods with ‘live and active cultures’ – kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and yoghurt – contain strains of probiotics known to support and possibly improve gut health.
In addition to eating whole foods rich in probiotics supplements can also be a good option. Daily supplementation has been shown to improve immunity, improve athletic performance, and improve mental health, says Lauren Jones, the assistant director of sports nutrition at the University of Utah. And in the case of inadequate diet and antibiotic therapies, probiotics can aid in preventing nutrient deficiencies.
But choose a supplement wisely, says Lisa McDowell, a dietitian. Aim for more than 50 billion cultures, avoid extraneous ingredients, and choose products with diverse strains.
Collagen and Bone Broths
Your joints can take a toll with regular, high-impact exercise. Collagen has been shown to improve joint health and reduce pain in athletes. Bone broth is becoming more and more popular thanks to its high levels of collagen, or try a collagen protein supplement.
It’s easy to avoid sugary foods like cakes and sweets, but sugar can be present even in ‘healthy foods’. Be sure to read nutrition labels to find out where sugar might be hiding. A general rule of thumb: if sugar is listed in the first three ingredients, put it back on the shelf. Cereals are one of the worst culprits of added sugar. Beverages are also often sky-high in added sugar, so watch what you’re drinking.
Sustainable and Pasture-Raised
It’s no secret that sustainable and pasture-raised foods are growing in popularity but does the price tag translate into running benefits? Sometimes. Grass-fed beef and pasture-raised eggs have been shown to have greater concentrations of certain nutrients that boost recovery compared to conventional beef and eggs.
In fact, one study found that eggs from pasture-raised hens contain twice as many omega-3 fatty acids than conventional eggs, to fight inflammation. Pasture-raised eggs also have higher levels of vitamin E to help decrease muscle damage.