How To Eat For Peak Performance
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
While every calorie provides the same amount of energy, but 100 calories of candy and 100 calories of broccoli won’t have the same effect on you because they fuel your body in different ways. The foods we eat can have a huge impact on the biological processes that govern when, what and how much we eat.
This is especially true when it comes to improving performance in the gym, field or court.
Timing pre- and post workout meals, giving our body the right nutrients to speed up recovery, filling up the empty muscles are all necessary to get better results.
How To Time Your Meals
For those who do moderate to high-intensity, endurance and/or resistance-based workouts, carbohydrate will extensively be their fuel source; consequently, glycogen stores are of critical importance. It is well documented that glycogen stores are limited and operate as a predominant source of fuel for up to a few hours during moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise. Importantly, as glycogen levels decline, the ability of an athlete to maintain exercise intensity and work output also decreases while rates of tissue breakdown increase.
For most people, 45-90 minutes of working out shouldn’t be an issue without filling up glycogen stores, but for those who do very intense training longer than 90 minutes, like football players, etc. they will need to have carbohydrate drinks to fuel their workout.
The simplest guideline to maximise endogenous glycogen stores is for a high-performance athlete to ingest appropriate amounts of carbohydrate relative to their intensity and volume of training.
Recommended daily intakes of carbohydrate are commonly reported to be 5–12 g/kg/day, with the upper end of this range (8–10 g/kg/day) reserved for those athletes that are training at moderate to high intensities (≥ 70% VO2max) upwards of 12 h per week.
Try to get those carbs in around 2 hours before and after training sessions.
More details in this study:
Calcium, Zinc, and Magnesium
Why are these three minerals are so important for athletes?
During intense training, our body breaking down muscle tissues, causing inflammations, losing electrolytes and this puts a huge strain on the immune system.
Zinc is a constituent of enzymes involved in metabolic processes that relate to DNA stabilisation and gene expression, and is important in cell growth, repair and protein metabolism.
Eating foods high in zinc like beans, chickpeas, lentils, and seeds is been showed to speed up recovery in athletes, by helping the immune system to regain homeostasis.
Calcium is especially important for athletes because they are more likely to lose calcium, as well as other minerals, through perspiration.
In addition to being important for strong bones, calcium is required for muscle contraction. Without enough calcium you may experience muscle cramps.
good sources of calcium include kale, pak choi, okra, spring greens, dried figs, chia seeds, and almonds.
Inadequate calcium intake and increased calcium losses may predispose one to osteoporosis. This may be especially so in women who develop the female athlete triad (disordered eating, amenorrhea, osteoporosis).
Magnesium is a component of over 300 enzymes, some involved in the regulation of muscle contraction, oxygen delivery, and protein synthesis.
Athletes lose magnesium in sweat and urine. This, combined with the fact that athletes' diets are usually low in magnesium, generally leads to the need for supplementation. The recommended intake for endurance athletes is 500 to 800 mg daily. Higher doses can cause diarrhoea.
Kelp has more magnesium than any other vegetable or seaweed, containing 780 milligrams in just one serving! Kelp is also especially helpful for obtaining enough iodine, which enhances thyroid health.
More details in this study:
Hopefully, this quick post will guide you on the road of a stronger, healthier life. Of course, there are more nutrients to talk about like Iron, Selenium, Iodine, Vitamin B and A, etc. what you can find in my nutrition plans.
If you want to improve your performance or your health, you can download my Nutrition Guide, where you can find all the important minerals and vitamins, with recommended intakes and food examples.
What is your favourite pre-workout meal? Berries? PB sandwich? Shake?
Give us some ideas in the comments.
I'm also running a Vegan Lifting Seminar in PureGym Central on the 6th of July, on Saturday at 12:30.
Come and learn:
- How to eat for optimal health on a vegan diet
- Strategies to improve sport performance
- Macro- and Micronutrients
- Vitamins and Minerals to pay attention
- Set up your calories based on your goals
You can sign up by e-mail at: