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Recovering From An Injury – Part 3: Nutrition

One of the most constant messages that I share with my clients daily is the importance of consistency.  I encourage my clients to be better by 1% every day at something: sleep, food, hydration, flexibility, mental skills, warm up, cool-down, etc.

When it comes to developing sport-specific and cross training protocols, I always err on the side of caution because the ONLY two things that are guaranteed to slow down or even halt progression is an illness or an injury.  Avoiding an illness can be done by combining three things: 1) evaluating the body’s response to training volume and intensity, 2) eating enough quality and quantity of food to support the immune system, and finally, 3) allowing the body to rest long enough and deep enough to absorb the stress of life and rejuvenate itself nightly.

Unfortunately, avoiding an injury isn’t always as easy as it seems.  As the old saying goes within the athletic world, “It isn’t IF you are going to get injured, but WHEN”.  Once injured, how to deal with it is often as convoluted as nutrition –  Do I apply ice or heat?  Should I cast or not cast?, Should I exercise or rest?… just to mention a few. Before we can answer these specific types of questions, we must determine the type of injury – whether it is tissue related or bone.

The Body is the Sum Total of Bones and Soft Tissue

Think of the body’s musculoskeletal system and a combination of soft tissue and bones.  In addition to holding up the overall weight of the body (lean muscle mass and adipose/fat tissue), bones stabilize and work with muscles to create movement and maintain body posturing.  Visualize the muscles “pulling” against the attachment to the bone to create movement.  Without muscles, bones don’t move.  Without bones, muscles can’t pull.

Soft Tissue

Soft tissue has three major functions – to connect, support and to protect the organs of the body. There are also two types of soft tissue. The connective tissue includes tendons which connect muscles to bones; ligaments that connect bones to bones; fascia, skin, fibrous tissue, fat, and synovial membranes which serve as lubricants for the joints. The non-connective tissue are the muscles, nerves and blood.

Bone

There are 206 bones in the body that work collectively to support five major functions:

  1. Support: the framework for muscles, soft tissue and organs to attach.
  2. Movement: visualize bones as leverage points to generate movement.
  3. Protection: the skull protects the brain; the spine protects the nerves in the spinal column; and the ribs protect the lungs, heart and liver.
  4. Production of red blood cells: the center of the bone cavity is referred to as “red marrow” which is the source of production for red and white cells.
  5. Storage of minerals and lipids (fats): bones retain 99% of the calcium found in the body. Calcium salts help maintain calcium and phosphate ions in body fluids. The body stores lipids for energy reserves in the yellow marrow.

Two Types of Injuries

There are two types of injuries – acute and chronic. An acute, or impact injury typically occurs from an accident such as a head injury (concussion), broken bone, sprains, dislocations, Achilles tendon rupture, and rotator cuff tears of the shoulder. This type of injury requires immediate medical attention. A chronic injury, on the other hand, develops slowly and is persistent and long lasting. The pain is enough to capture your attention, but not so bad that it keeps you from continuing activity. A chronic injury is usually addressed with the RICE acronym – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Nutrition Strategies to Heal as Quickly as Possible

Most people don’t realize it, but nutrition plays a vital role in the healing process. Key nutritional strategies when recovering from an injury include:

  1. Refrain from cutting back on calories. This is counter-productive to recovery as it actually will slow down the healing process. Fruits, vegetables, and lean protein are low on the calorie scale, but big on the nutritional density scale.
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps make collagen, an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory that will facilitate the recovery process from the inside out. Sources: citrus fruit, bell peppers, dark greens, kiwi broccoli, tomatoes, mango and papaya.
  3. Consume protein-rich foods such as salmon, red meat, chicken, tofu, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. These types of food are high in amino acids which are the building block for new tissue and help prevent excessive inflammation.
  4. Eat foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Not commonly known is that Omega-3 facilities new muscle generation reducing muscle loss during immobilization, as well as preventing excessive inflammation.
  5. Avoid Omega-6 fats which can increase inflammation within the body. These are found in corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, and sunflower oils.
  6. Add zinc to your diet. Zinc is a commonly deficient nutrient in the body but an instrumental component of many enzymes and proteins needed for tissue repair and growth. Sources: salmon, sardines, shellfish, seeds, nuts and whole grains.
  7. Eat more calcium-rich foods such as organic dairy, dark greens, sardines, broccoli, almonds, and seaweed. Calcium is a vital component to strong bones and teeth, along with aiding muscle contractions and nerve signaling.
  8. Be sure to get enough Vitamin D – whether naturally through exposure to sunlight or through your foods. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of Calcium which speeds up bone rejuvenation, along with strengthening bones and teeth. It can also help shorten the recovery time after surgery.  Outside Sources include egg yolk, whole eggs, organic milk, salmon, sardines, tuna, shrimp, oysters, and liver.
  9. Consume foods such as free range meat, chicken and fish that are high in creatine. Creatine is known to reduce muscle mass loss, facilitate the development of muscle mass, and reestablish muscle strength.
  10. Eat more shellfish as they naturally contain Glucosamine, a vitamin known to facilitate the creation of tendons, ligaments, cartilage and speed up bone rejuvenation. Glucosamine also reduces pain associated with joint and bone injuries.

Broken Bone Specific Nutrition for Healing

In addition to Calcium and Vitamin D mentioned above, the following nutrients will facilitate the recovery process associated with a broken bone:

  1. Arginine – This amino acid is needed to produce a fracture healing compound known as nitric oxide.  Sources: free range meat, organic dairy, seafood, raw nuts and oatmeal.
  2. Inositol – Like Vitamin D, Inositol helps improve the absorption of calcium to strengthen bones and teeth.  Sources: cantaloupe, grapefruit, organs and prune.
  3. Boron – This powerhouse helps increase both calcium and magnesium retention while increasing the effectiveness of Vitamin D.  Source: raisins, prunes, Brazilian nuts, apples, bananas, celery, broccoli, chickpeas
  4. Magnesium – Facilitates bone strength and firmness. Sources: almonds, cashews, potato skins, brown rice, kidney and black-eyed peas and organic milk.
  5. Silicon – Critical element in the early stages of bone formation. Sources: whole grains, carrots, green beans, red wine, beer, brown rice, barley, oats, raw nuts, seafood and organ meats.
  6. Vitamin K1 and K2 – Improves bone strength.  Sources: kale, spinach, broccoli, egg yolk, organic dairy, organ meats, prunes, kiwis, avocado, blackberry, blueberry, grapes, hard cheese, dark chicken meat, real butter.

Top Five Nutrition Habits

  1. Consume half of your body weight in ounces of water (150 pounds /2 = 75 ounces) over 8-10-hour day.
  2. Eat every two hours to stabilize blood sugar levels – maintain mental clarity and consistent energy levels.
  3. Every time you eat, consume a fruit, a vegetable and a high-quality fat/protein item.
  4. Consume your food without the distraction of a phone, TV or computer to maximize the absorption of micro and macro nutrients.  Literally get more out of your food!
  5. Eat out no more than one time a week to avoid foods loaded in preservatives and sugars.

Take away message…

When you become injured (at any level), you are always in a race against space and time.  Understanding how to offset the inflammatory process, without slowing down the healing process, giving the body the invaluable vitamins, minerals and necessary macro nutrients to heal, repair, and grow can be directly influenced by what, when, and how much you consume and supplement.  The greater the attention to detail, the quicker the recovery!

Sleep Will Make You Leaner and Faster – Here is the Proof!

To those of you out there struggling with fatigue, weight loss, anxiety, sleep disorders and/or performance plateaus, consider sleeping more to allow your body to recover and rebuilt naturally. There are no short cuts. High intensity and high volume will destroy you unless you have the time to sleep and eat enough to ABSORB what you do – plain and simple.

Sleep Project Overview
For the last 20+  years, I have asked all my clients to train with a heart rate monitor to keep them from training too hard on their easy days leaving them fresh for their high quality days.

This methodology has been challenged by many coaches and athletes for many reasons: “grey zone”, “wattage”, “perceived exertion”, etc. I have personally watched clients leave to go to a another program with more volume, more intensity, calorie restriction, etc. only to become injured (sometimes career ending), have a performance regression and/or become exhausted mentally and physically resulting in creams, injections or oral supplementation to turn their “symptoms” around. Sad but true.

In addition to having my clients train with a heart rate monitor I have required all my clients to maintain a Body Analysis spreadsheet to evaluate their body’s feedback to training volume, intensity and frequency along with ensuring that they are consuming enough quality calories and fluids to support their training loads and life’s other stress sources (work, family, etc.).

To prove my theory I conducted a sleep study over an eight month period where I asked 10 clients to wear their Garmin strapless heart monitor for every workout as well as when they sleep. With the permission of one of these clients, I have documented her sleep data averages and performance results below.

Parameters
Sleep goal: 9 hours (difficult but necessary)
Food: raw fruits, vegetables and clean fats; eaten every 2 hours
Training: 7 Hours a week
1 hour per day Mon-Friday
1 complete rest day per week – Saturday
2 hours on Sunday
Training Intensity:
2 hours anaerobic
5 hours aerobic

Sleep Log Observations/Take Away
Hours of sleep: increased from 6 to 9 hours
Deep sleep average: increased from 23 min avg to 1 hour 40′
Light sleep average: increased 3 hour avg to 5 hours 17′
Note:
Deep sleep allows the body to rebuild NATURALLY
Light sleep allows the brain to rebuild NATURALLY

Performance Results
Swim Time Trial: 17 seconds faster
Bike Time Trial: 36 seconds faster / at a lower HR of 8 beats
Run Time Trial: 18 seconds faster / at a lower HR of 5 beats
Body Fat Percentage: decrease of 4%
Note: body fat, not muscle or dehydration

Numbers don’t lie.

Recovering From An Injury – Part 2: The Mental Aspects

When you become injured there are stages of emotion just like any major issue in life: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial
Unless the injury is obvious: broken bone, concussion, etc., our brain wants to “ignore” the fact that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Whether this mind set is due to “we don’t want to be considered weak and injury prone” or ”if I ignore it, it will go away”, either way, we as humans fight the idea that we are injured and we have to pull back in our training and become more creative to get your workouts in.

Anger
Once we acknowledge and accept the fact that we are hurt, anger inevitably sneaks in. No one clearly understands the sacrifice of time, energy and resources you have invested in your current level of speed, endurance and strength. You feel that all these performance elements will quickly slip through your fingers and your fitness levels will regress back to where you were a year ago. The anger and frustration levels escalate to completely new levels when the source of your injury isn’t truly your fault: car accident, dirty move by one of your competitors, equipment failure, etc…

Bargaining
We begin to bargain with ourselves that instead of training eight hours a week, we will pull back to six hours and this will be enough for us to heal while minimizing our fitness loses. Many times, we will continue with the same sport specific activities, but rationalize our behavior by “going slower”.

Depression
One of the huge benefits of consistent training is the hormonal release of endorphins commonly referred to as the “athlete high”. When your body doesn’t get to experience the releasing of these feel good moments on a regular basis, the mental capacity to deal with relationships, professional obligations, financial situations, etc., becomes less resilient and even intolerant. Little issues that used to roll off your back now set you off in a verbal tantrum adding to the frustrations of not being able to exercise and sport specific train like you used to.

Acceptance
Once you recognize that ignoring your injury won’t help heal the injury (chemically, mentally or physically) and staying angry isn’t going to solve your situation, it is time to move into a state of acceptance. Facing accountability for why the injury happened is one of the hardest things for an athlete to do. Over my last 35 years of coaching, I have found that the catalyst of injuries typically falls into three categories:

1. Working in a mode of fear. Instead of working in a mode of fear, successful individuals work in a mode of pleasure. They are motivated by enjoyment of success and look at each decision as a building block to moving them closer to the desirable outcome verses looking at decision and behavior as a punishment for poor choices. Pro-active example: If I go to bed early, I will get more sleep and wake up leaner and fully recovered. Mode of fear example: If I don’t go to bed early, I will get fat. Ironically, the brain much prefers pleasure over pain. However, our society has glamorized the “no pain, no gain” mindset that has literally hurt us.

2. Not listening to the body. The human body is an incredible machine and has a multitude of ways to let you know when something is not correct. It is our responsibility to look for, recognize and respect when things do feel right. This is where there is a slight overlap with number one above, working in a mode of fear.

In the exercise realm, I refer to using exercise for punishment because of the bad food choices that were made. Individuals that work in a mode of pleasure take the time to understand “why” they are drawn towards bad food choices. For example, if someone is craving simple sugar, it is a sign of adrenal fatigue that needs to be offset with high quality fats, not simple sugars as the brains wants to tell you.

When a sign of an ailment begins to reveal itself (virus: an elevated heart rate; muscle strain: hurts to walk; bone situation: pain throbs at night while sleeping; stress: becoming more intolerant and even short tempered or get physically weaker with more effort, etc.), if you are working in a mode of fear, you will take the necessary steps to turn the situation around immediately because you are motivated by the enjoyment of success. You recognize that if you acknowledge and respect the messages your body is giving you, you may miss a day or two from training to address the situation (virus: sleep and avoid simple sugars; muscle strain: foam roll or get a massage; bone situation: let it rest; stress: avoid negative people) but it will get you back onto the path of health, wellness and associated performance in a shorter period of time. It will also reduce the amount of residual damage that is done.

The accumulation of residual damage (not sleeping enough, not getting massage or foam rolling, not eating fruits and vegetables, etc.) creates a hole that can take a long time to dig out of. For example, when it comes to adrenal fatigue, I get asked frequently “how long will it take to turn my symptoms around?”. The answer is two-fold. First, how long have you been ignoring the body’s indicators – we need to determine the depth of the hole you have dug yourself into. Second, how committed are you to proactively addressing each element necessary to recovery: food, sleep, soft tissue maintenance, balancing volume and intensity of training, managing the overall levels of stress you are placing on your body – professionally, personally, athletically, etc.

3. Following uneducated trainers and self-serving agendas. When someone presents themselves to our office, we always strive to uncover the source of the injury. Ninety-nine percent of the time it is associated with some so-called expert or coach that has recommended some ridiculous training program that has no justification behind the volume, intensity or exercises. Thanks to the proliferation of online coaches and weekend certification courses, everyone has become an expert and as a result, has led to epidemic levels of injury and burnout.

The most imperative question to ask is any program or trainer is “Why am I doing this workout and how does it contribute to eliminating my biggest frustrations that are keeping me from achieving my fullest potential”. Anything that you are doing that doesn’t move you towards YOUR personal achievement goals, puts you on the path of your program or trainer’s agenda.

This agenda doesn’t have any regards to your health, wellness and ultimately performance, it is simply an agenda. We have picked up clients that are on a collegiate athletic scholarship and the injuries that they are presenting are nothing more than too much, too hard, too often and the athletes are told “if you don’t want to do what we tell you, we will replace you with someone who will” – no matter what the physical sacrifice.

Every minute of every day needs to be spent moving you closer and closer to your desirable goals in a healthy and sustainable manner. You should know why you are training a specific number of hours and what percentage of them are going to be aerobic and anaerobic. The volume and overall intensity need to be in line with the amount of stress your body can absorb in the area of physical activity. Contrary to what many are saying, you can’t handle more than 100% of anything. If you are extremely busy at work and it is commandeering more and more of your hours in a day, where are you going to pull those hours from: personal, athletic, sleep, eating, etc.?

Life is all about balance, and if you over-extend yourself, you will find something will start to break down. Unfortunately, it usually is your body – mentally and/or physically!

In the next article, we will do a deep dive on nutrition’s role as it relates to an injury.

Top 3 Mistakes When Recovering From an Injury and How to Avoid Them – Part 1

Nobody enjoys becoming injured due to overuse or an unforseeable impact that happens in less than a second.  However, as the old saying goes, as an athlete, if you haven’t already been injured, most likely you will be at some point. Once you cross that fine line, there are three areas – physical, mental and nutrition – that tend to get handled incorrectly making the healing process both difficult and slow.

Physical

First and foremost, follow your doctor’s and physical therapist rehab protocols and complete the entire duration outlined.  Coming back too early will only result in less strength, endurance and long-term ramifications like limited range of motion, joint stiffness and unwanted scar tissue.  As an athlete this will also result in less speed, agility, strength and endurance.

Unless you have a high impact injury that affects more than one area of your body, you are normally dealing with one area of injury.  With this being said, you still have 90-95% of your body left to strengthen and expose to cardiovascular improvement. This usually requires becoming creative with your cardio.  If you have broken an elbow or wrist, you can use a recumbent bike, walk in the pool with a pair of sneakers, or use a zero-gravity treadmill.  If you have broken an ankle or torn an ACL or MCL you can get a vacuum sleeve to cover the injured area and swim.  If you are in a wheel chair because of a leg injury, you can use a Concept 2 Ski Erg.

Despite being injured, your strength can be maintained and even enhanced with a variety of options: stretch cords, TRX systems, free weights, kettle bells and medicine balls.  If you let pain be your dictator and you are not masking the true pain with pain killer medicine, you will keep yourself from doing too much and slowing down the healing process.

With regards to pain medicine, it is imperative that you mask the pain and discomfort with over the counter pain medicines, but ONLY while you sleep.  The key is to reduce the chances of your body being woken up due to pain.  The deeper your sleep, the longer you are asleep, and the more sleep cycles you can complete per night will ensure that your body is repairing itself as quickly as possible.  To maximize the probability of quality, pain-free sleep, eat a high-quality snack or smoothie that is rich in protein and good fats to satisfy appetite and then consume your pain medicine.  The fat and protein will satisfy your hierarchy of need of hunger and the ibuprofen will mask the pain allowing you to sleep deeper and with less interruptions.

When discussing the physical side of an injury, the concept of non-sweating physical elements is frequently overlooked.  Soft tissue maintenance such as foam rolling and trigger point therapy changes the consistency of the soft tissue meaning that it will respond to pressure by opening the blood vessels bringing nutrients and oxygen-rich blood into the tissue. Fresh blood flow will speed up the healing process.

Another soft tissue modality is contrast therapy where you use cold and hot water to stimulate and change the consistency of the muscle tissue.  One of the main reasons why contrast therapy is often discarded is due to the mindset that it has to be so extreme: extremely hot or extremely cold.   This is not the case.  Think about contrast therapy this way, the bigger the temperate difference, the more effective the therapy is to the tissue.  For example, if you have the cold water at 70 degrees and the warm water and 110 the difference is 40 degrees.  You can create the same difference if you lowered the cold to 65 and the warm water to 105.  Your body doesn’t know the difference in temperature highs and lows, just the difference.  If you don’t like extreme colds and you believe that you must be in nearly freezing water and/or it is so cold you feel like your skin is going to burn off your body, you are more prone to avoid contrast therapy.  This all or nothing mindset has to be changed.

In addition to foam rolling, trigger point therapy and contrast therapy, you can always schedule a therapeutic massage.  A qualified massage therapist that works on your muscles, tendons and ligaments can identify muscle patterns associated with pain and limited range of motion.  For example, if you have injured your shoulder, a massage therapist can help you identify what muscles in your chest or your shoulder blades are excessively tight and causing unwanted “pulling” on the head of your humerus (the top of your arm in your shoulder) resulting in additional pain and limited range of motion.  The same applies to each joint in your body.

The irony of these non-sweating components: creative cardio, sleep quality, contrast therapy, massage therapy, etc., should be part of every athlete’s daily routine; however, these are the components that are frequently left out resulting in being mentally bored, physically stale, reduced range of motion, increased nagging injuries and ultimate frustration.

By staying focused on these specific physical components, you will come back from your injury stronger, with enhanced range of motion allowing for better sport specific biomechanics, improved speed, strength and endurance with the areas of your body that are not inured and healing.  Once you get clearance from your doctor to resume normal activity with your injured body part, you only have to improve that one area, versus the entire body.

Dealing With An Illness and How to Avoid Getting Sick

The body provides you many indicators that it is fatigued and susceptible to illness: elevated heart rate, high body temperature, suppressed appetite, declines in athletic performance, poor sleeping patterns and more.

Though these indicators may seem obvious as you read them, most athletes will not acknowledge that if the body doesn’t get the elements necessary to recover and overcome fatigue, sleep and food, it is inevitable that an illness is right around the corner.

Here are 7 Rules for a speedy recovery from an illness:

Rule #1: Listen to your body

The body is an efficient machine. A fever or elevated heart rate are clear signs that you should back off on both your intensity and duration of riding and cross training. Please email me if you would like a free copy of my Body Analysis Spreadsheet to easily track this data on a weekly basis.

Rule #2: Get more rest

Resting does not mean working out “easy” for an hour thinking it will make you feel better, it will only make you more fatigued. Your only have one tank of energy, let all of that energy be directed towards getting healthy. Let your goal is to get 8-10 hours of deep, high quality sleep each day.

Rule #3: Pay attention to diet and proper hydration

Make it easy on your body to go about its job of fighting off the infection or virus. Regarding hydration, every day consume half of your body weight in ounces of water (160 pounds/2=80 ounces of water per day).

Proper nutrition would involve eating every two hours and eating fruits, vegetables and lean protein at every meal or snack. Please email me if you would like a free copy of my Body Analysis Spreadsheet to easily track this data on a weekly basis.

Rule #4: Return to training gently

As you start to feel a little better, resist the urge to jump back into training full-throttle. As a general rule of thumb, if your resting heart rate is up by more than 5 beats over your weekly average, then don’t train at all for that day. If your heart rate is within 3 beats of your weekly average, then exercise at a very easy effort level for 45 minutes or less.

Rule #5: Don’t ignore the obvious signs from your body

If your heart rate spikes straight up getting out of your car, then following your training program does not make sense. This physical experience will correlate with your resting heart rate (see #4 above).

Rule #6: Don’t expect someone else to be able to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do

Unfortunately you’re training partner, riding coach or family member doesn’t actually know how you are feeling, so it’s up to you to make that judgment in the end.

Rule #7: Don’t become an internet doctor

Eat for Recovery

Google can be a wonderful tool, but even the most rational among us can turn into raging hypochondriacs if let loose on the Internet when feeling unwell. Before you know it, your bout of strep throat has escalated to some rare form of infectious disease. So make an appointment with a legit medical doctor.

Training is intended to improve your strength and endurance; however, this improvement only happens when you eat correctly immediately after your workouts and races. Immediately after a hard day of racing, your immune system is suppressed and your overall body is fatigued, this makes you vulnerable to an airborne virus.

To improve your immunity, eat green fruits and vegetables at every meal. The main ingredient found in fruits and vegetables are phytonutrients. These are substances that plants produce naturally to protect themselves. Additionally, they provide the plant’s color, aroma, texture, and flavor.

Oxidative stress and inflammation, a byproduct of high intensity or long bouts of prolonged exercise, increase the production of free radicals, which can cause further cell damage. Antioxidants act to combat these free radicals. Therefore, recovery nutrition must entail much more than simply consuming post-workout carbohydrates and protein. Consuming foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids also speed the recovery process.

While it’s necessary to supplement your diet with over-the-counter multivitamins and fish oils, consuming whole foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids need to be the foundation of your nutrition. Food is intended to provide macro- and micronutrients, including fiber that you just can’t get in a pill.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the top 50-antioxidant rich foods included 13 spices, eight fruits and vegetables, five types of berries, and four different nuts and seeds. So why not include some of the following antioxidant-rich foods in your daily diet?

Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, curry, and garlic –  Each of these boast anti-inflammatory properties and bold flavors to go with any type of meal, be it sweet or savory. Saute your favorite vegetables with a bit of garlic and curry powder, or add a dash of cinnamon to your oatmeal.

Blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, and red raspberries –  These berries are packed with vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene. They’re also rich in the minerals potassium and magnesium. They can be tossed into salads for a taste of something sweet, or as a topping for your favorite yogurt. Got berries? Snack away!

Artichokes, sweet potatoes, spinach, red bell peppers, asparagus, and red cabbage – These veggies are jam packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and flavor. Cooking them only enhances their antioxidant properties. In fact, researchers found that a cooked sweet potato has 413 percent more antioxidant properties than when raw.

Quinoa –  Though considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. Its low glycemic, and the only “grain” that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein (7 grams per half-cup cooked). It’s also rich in manganese and copper, two minerals required as cofactors for the production of antioxidants. What’s more? It’s ready to eat in just 10 minutes.

Walnuts –  Are an excellent source of micro- and macronutrients like protein, fiber, and omega-3 fat. In fact, just one ounce of walnuts (that’s a shot glass or small handful) contains the recommended daily value, or 2.5 grams, of the essential amino acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). As if that wasn’t enough, once ingested, ALA is metabolized and converted to EPA and DHA (the kind of omega-3’s found in fish). The walnut is a rock star in the world of antioxidants. Add it to salads, yogurt, and protein/vegetable dishes.

Training and racing is demanding and places the body under a great deal of metabolic stress. A daily diet rooted (no pun intended) in nutrient dense foods will play an integral role in both your recovery and enhanced immunity. While a post-workout recovery drink is vitally important in replenishing muscle glycogen and aiding in muscle repair, a diet that focuses on antioxidants will help to minimize the cellular damage that can be caused by the oxidative stress of free radicals. Allowed to roam freely, free radicals can very subtly damage muscle tissue and negatively affect your speed & endurance.