LEAVES GRAINS SPINACH LOLLO ROSSO ROCKET
Wholegrains are high in energy-boosting B vitamins and manganese, as well as magnesium, which plays a critical role in muscle contractions and energy metabolism. Studies show that magnesium deficiency reduces endurance, and that low blood levels of magnesium are associated with decreased aerobic capacity. Quinoa packs in essential amino acids, including lysine to boost tissue growth and repair. The quick-release carbs in pasta make it perfect pre-race Dark green leaves, particularly spinach and romaine lettuce, contain bumper levels of vitamin K and manganese – nutrients that are crucial for cartilage and bone formation. The red pigment in leaves such as lollo rosso and red chard is anthocyanin, an antioxidant that helps repair blood vessels. For a bit of spice, throw in some watercress or rocket, which contain the anti-cancer compound glucosinolates – the key contributor to their distinctive peppery flavour. And consider this: watercress has more iron than spinach and more calcium than milk.
1 FISH ADD SOME PROTripilli POULTRY
Runners need around 5o per cent more protein than non-runners to help rebuild and repair muscles – a 4oz serving of either chicken or turkey supplies half of that daily requirement. Chicken also contains selenium – a powerful antioxidant mineral that protects muscles from the free-radical damage that occurs during exercise – and vitamin B3, which helps regulate fat burning during a run. Gobble turkey to get a hit of tryptophan, a precursor for serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and mood.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids, oozing from oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, help regulate the body’s inflammatory response, prevent blood clotting and improve blood lipid levels and blood flow. A 2007 study in the Current Sports Medicine Reports showed that Omega-3 reduced the level of inflammation caused by the free-radical damage from intense exercise. Salmon and prawns provide a hit of vitamin D which, as well as reducing inflammation, aids the absorption of the calcium needed to maintain bone density.
BEANS AND PULSES EDAMAME
FREE-RANGE, ORGANIC, OM EGA-3
CHICKPEAS KIDNEY BEANS
The egg is a great source of protein. It also contains good levels of the vitamins Bi and B2 for energy production in cells a deficiency of which can lead to increased lethargy and fatigue. Choose Omega-3-rich eggs – they have nearly twice the amount of the good stuff as standard organic eggs.
For a vegetarian protein that provides high levels of cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre, look no further. Beans and pulses are also a low GI (glycaemic index) food, so are broken down slowly for a lasting release of energy – particularly useful for long training sessions. Most are high in folate, an important B vitamin that plays a key role in heart health and circulation. Edamame (whole soya beans) offers a powerful health punch, containing isoflavones for heart protection and cholesterol reduction, as well as Omega-3 and choline, an anti-inflammatory.
ADD SOME COLCIIMI GREEN
Green vegetables are great sources of bone-building vitamin K, but broccoli is the most potent of them all (155mcg per 156g – the RDA is around 65 to 8o mcg). Celery contains pthalides, a muscle-relaxing compound, while cucumber is rich in silica for healthy connective tissue bones, tendons and ligaments.
Purple fruit and vegetables provide a host of nutrients including: lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol from gnet, vitamin C, flavonoids, ellagic acid and quercetin. All can help lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune-system activity and support healthy digestion, as well as improve the absorption of calcium and other minerals.
ORANGE, YELLOW AND RED
Most red, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables are superb sources of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Research has shown that these antioxidants may lessen muscle soreness after training by reducing inflammation. Add some butternut squash for a cramp-blitzing potassium boost.
RED PEPPERS ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH NUTS
These are a great source of vitamin E, a key antioxidant that is important in protecting against exercise-induced oxidative damage and can thus help the post-training recovery process. They’re also rich in good Omega fats, which have a potent anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Walnuts in particular are a great source of these, so don’t be shy about sprinkling a few over your salad.
Seeds are nutrient powerhouses, bursting with protein and fibre, as well as essential Omega fats, phytosterols, and manganese. Pumpkin seeds in particular are high in zinc, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Also try sesame seeds (also in found tahini paste – a great addition to salad dressing) for bone-building calcium.
You can’t eat a lot of them, but what you can manage will deliver B vitamins, selenium, phosphorus, iron, Omega-3 fats and DMAE – or Dimethylaminoethanol – which is key for mood and mental alertness.
HERBS AND SPICES
Parsley is a potent source of the fatigue-fighting mineral iron, needed for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. For a healthy and spicy kick, throw in some chilli (fresh or dried). This contains the phenolic acid capsaicin, which has been shown to kill cancer cells and increase blood circulation. Ginger is rich in anti-inflammatory gingerols.
They are rich in vitamin E and high in antioxidant polyphenols. Research shows that these might increase the elasticity of the walls of the body’s arteries, which might be why they have such a good heart-protecting effect in their oil form.
They also lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol, preventing the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries.
Cheese is packed with protein and also contains high levels of calcium – needed (along with vitamin D) to minimise the risk of stress fractures common among runners. A 2005 study in the International Journal of Obesity revealed that dieters who included dairy in their diet lost more fat than those who simply cut calories.