Superfoods are something that should be a part of every swimmer's nutrition plan. They are great sources of nutrients that don't add preservatives and artificial ingredients to your diet. Enjoy some of these natural dietary powerhouses to help you have the best performance inside and outside of the pool.
This is one of the most popular superfoods on the block: it's a common ingredient in green smoothies, salads, and there's even kale "chips" sold in the health food aisle of your grocery store. For swimmers, this antioxidant-packed green is a great way to help regulate your body's inflammatory process, so that you don't end up with muscle cramps and post-workout soreness. Beyond those benefits, kale has high levels of vitamins A, K, B6, calcium, and iron, which are all vitamins and nutrients that swimmers should be getting daily. Enjoy kale at dinner as a side since it has a high fiber content, which is the thing that could upset your stomach on the day of the meet.
2. Whey Protein
For swimmers, whey protein is one of the best superfoods to include in your diet. Both low in fat and cholesterol, whey protein is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to prevent muscle damage. Since whey protein in easily absorbed and digested by the body, you can eat it before or after a swim workout to refuel and recovery properly. Whey protein is found in our Nutriboost protein shake, so enjoy it after your next workout and watch your performance improve.
3. Chia Seeds
For being so small, chia seeds are a nutrition powerhouse. They've got a lot of what swimmers need in a tiny package: calcium, iron, and protein. Chia seeds are also known as a "slow carb", which is great for providing swimmers with a sustained amount of energy over many hours. Enjoy it in the morning sprinkled on your cereal, in yogurt, or in your protein shake for this natural energy boost. If you're concerned about hydration, which is something most swimmers forget about in their nutrition plan, chia seeds are also a good superfood to add to your diet to impede dehydration. These little seeds have hydrophilic properties, which means that the seeds have the ability to absorb more than twelve times their weight in water, thus allowing prolonged hydration (Active.com).
There's a reason why milk has stood the test of time for athletes. It is full of carbohydrates and protein, is easily digested, and aids in muscle recovery. And when carbs and protein are consumed together, muscle tissues are repaired more efficiently. To get the most out of this superfood beverage, mix it with our Nutriboost recovery drink, which has all of the nutrients and minerals that your body needs. To see a quick comparison of chocolate milk vs. Nutriboost, read more about how they stack up on nutrients.
Beyond just being an easy stay in the bag snack when you're at race day, bananas are great before bedtime since they help support sleep. This yellow superfood does this through its high vitamin B6 content, which regulates sleep patterns because it assists in creating serotonin through the conversion of the amino acid, tryptophan. If you're having trouble sleeping at night, mix a half of banana in with your Nutriboost shake before bedtime. Bananas are also great for helping to minimize muscle cramping, so snack on this superfood after your next workout.
6. Sweet Potatoes
One of the most delicious superfoods on this list, sweet potatoes are a naturally sweet carb that slowly release natural sugars into your body. This steady stream helps to ensure a stable source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes, which is something that you'll want during long workouts. This colorful superfood is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, iron, manganese, and copper. These last two are super important for healthy muscle function, and unfortunately most swimmers are deficient in these minerals. A swimmer's diet should definitely include a few sweet potatoes a week.
7. BeetsNot only do beets have some of that manganese that we just mentioned, they also contain nitrates which affect our bodies in two important ways. First, nitrates allow blood vessels to dilate, increasing the flow of oxygen to your muscles. Second, "they improve the efficiency of the mitochondria in our cells, meaning our muscles need less oxygen to function" (Swimming World Magazine, 2015). What does this mean for you as a swimmer? Well studies show that subjects who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. Enjoying some beet juice or having some steamed beets on your salad is a great way for swimmers to provide oxygen to their muscles and increase their endurance.
And last, but definitely not least, spirulina is a superfood that is known for having the highest percentage of complete protein by weight of any food on earth. This blue-green algae is rich in a wide variety of vitamins including vitamins B1, B2, B6, K, and E, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. But beyond these nutrients, spirulina has been shown to improve endurance and expedite recovery induced by exercise stress. Our Sport Multivitamins for Men and Women have spirulina included to help you fuel up the right way.
Now that you've got a diverse list of superfoods, work them into your nutrition plan and start feeling that competitive edge!