The Aussie culture of being active and outdoors is alive and well. Just in our close group of friends we have sport teams playing on three different weeknights! This, on top of other commitments, can end up taking its toll on our bodies physically.
If you’re feeling the wear and tear more acutely, it can be tough to know what to do. Do you stop cold-turkey? Do you power through?
There’s no one-size fits all answer to those questions, however aside from eating enough food to meet your energy demands, fortunately we have a few whole food tips and tweaks to optimise your performance and speed up your recovery.
Be worth your salt
Human cells constantly generating electrical charges and sending messages via our nerves using electrolytes. In human bodies, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate and hydrogen phosphate all function as electrolytes.
For any given muscle movement, magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium all need to be present.Wrong electrolyte levels can lead to either weak muscles, or muscles that contract too severely.
Generally, electrolytes are kept at constant levels by our kidneys and hormones, however levels tend to alter when our hydration changes. An example is when we sweat and lose electrolytes, generally sodium and potassium.
To replace lost electrolytes, consuming these foods can help:
- Sweet potatoes have sodium and potassium
- Magnesium can be found in spinach, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt and almonds.
- Green leafy vegetables are a great source of calcium, potassium and magnesium.
- Milk contains calcium, sodium, magnesium and potassium, along with high-quality protein, which aids muscle recovery.
Beetroot before biking
Beetroot, along with green leafy vegetables, are a great source of nitrates. During digestion, nitrate is converted to nitric oxide, which acts as a vasodilator, relaxing and opening blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles.
The activity of NO from beetroot juice can offer beneficial effects on the performance on a range of endurance and team sports, as well as supporting those training or competing at high altitudes.
Dominate DOMS with fish oil
Ever feel the urge to kick-start your exercise regime but then find yourself in a world of pain for the next few days? This muscle pain and stiffness, known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, and can last for 24-72 hours and can be ameliorated by the fatty acids found in fatty fish!
Studies show that as little as 3 fish oil capsules daily for 1 week decreased muscle soreness. This is roughly equivalent to 500g (3-4 fillets) of Atlantic salmon a week. The same effect was seen with concentrated green-lipped mussel oil in long-distance runners.
Hopefully these tips will keep you motivated and pain-free as we come into the summer months and find ourselves more active and outdoors.