I can now climb a rope.
To the top.
If there were a bell, I could now ring it.
I could never do that before!
I'm training to hike the Appalachian Trail.
My body could never have handled training for this, as well as crossfit. Last year, I could barely handle crossfit alone.
My body would have crashed in the past with all the training I'm doing. Why is it thriving now?
My answer? When you give your body the tools to heal, rebuild and strengthen, you will heal, rebuild and strengthen.
These past few months as I have been gearing up my crossfit, mountain climbing and work schedule, I have also been prioritizing eating the most nutrient dense foods possible, making sure I sleep well, and generally focusing on incorporating more joy into my life! Although I can't tell you how to add joy into your life, I can give you some great advice on fueling your body for intense training! So, here they are:
5 Nutrition Tips for the Athlete
- Make sure you are digesting your protein. We've all heard that athletes need to increase their protein loads (think .5 - .8 grams of protein per pound of person). You can be drinking your protein smoothies or eating your steaks, but if your body is deficient in the minerals and enzymes required to break down that protein- you are wasting your time and money (and probably slowly ripping apart the insides of your gut). There are few factors to consider when increasing the protein in your diet. For instance, if your stomach acid levels are low, you won't be able to trigger the hormone pepsinogen to convert into pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down protein. Alcohol, sugar, food intolerances, vitamin B6 and zinc deficiencies all can lead to poor HCL production... so be mindful of that. When considering your protein intake, you should also consider the quality of your protein (and the toxins/free radicals that may be coming along with it). I ALWAYS prefer whole food sources of protein, like meat, fish and eggs. If from a grass-fed, pastured or wild animal, it is going to come a long with a multitude of vitamins, minerals and omega 3's. Protein powders tend to have oxidized cholesterols (aka free radicals in the body), along with funky ingredients that can mess with your absorption of the protein. Also, eating high amounts of protein without quality fats also prevents the utilization of the proteins, and the protein will get converted to glucose.
- Eat more fat. It's a great alternative to sugar, plus you need it! High quality fats such as ghee, coconut oil, organic red palm oil, butter, fermented cod liver oil, lard, tallow etc, are all great food and energy sources. I particularly love coconut oil because of medium chain fatty acids are easily converted to energy for the body and helps me hike for hours without getting hungry or tired.
- Remove foods that could be holding you back. Nothing slows me down faster than sugar, gluten, fried foods and alcohol. These foods, along with other foods that people are frequently intolerant to, cause a lot of inflammation in the body as well as block your bodies ability to create the anti-inflammatory hormones.
- Actually keep your electrolytes balanced. No, Gatorade doesn't count. I used to drink so much water (still do), but I had to pee every 45 minutes. I felt dehydrated, was getting headaches and felt weak in general. When I finally learned how to test myself for minerals, I realized I was pathetically low in a variety of minerals, which was messing with my electrolyte balances. I now add a pinch of celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt into my water, especially on hiking and cross fit days. I also make mineral rich teas out of raspberry, nettle and strawberry leaves. I always make sure to add some of this into my water throughout the day as well, adding a constant supply of minerals.
- Seriously consider your pre-workout fuel. I see people eat and drink complete CRAP before their workouts. Most shakes out there on the market are full of sugar and crazy chemicals. I like to workout in the morning while fasting, and I will only use one of two things before my workout if I'm feeling tired or super hungry: a spoonful of coconut oil (immediately used for energy), or Athena's Natural Pre Workout Drink, made by Unico Nutrition. It's a pre-workout drink designed specifically for women, using ingredients even I approve of (which is REALLY hard to do). I tend to save Athena's for big hiking days, and PR days, simply because when I take it, I literally have so much physical energy that I feel like I need to take on some sort of giant challenge. I like the coconut lime variety, and savor it before big workouts. I promise, they are not paying me to advertise this for them. It's just a great product and I want it to do well. Good luck!