One of the most common sayings I hear from those that I speak to regarding my workout load is how do you have the energy to do that? Or the second most common saying is ‘just hearing that is making me tired.’ I laugh and shrug it off because I am not superhuman. I am just like them but I chose to focus my energy on being active which brings on more energy. Are you seeing the cycle of life here already?
Back in 2007 when I decided to run my first half-marathon I chose to be the best that I could at that event and in my training. I focused on getting better and with getting better came energy. I had been one of those people that always thought to myself why would I run….that is just so hard. Once I started I knew why people ran. They ran because they felt better regardless of their initial reason for running. It brought them more energy and they started to roll downhill from a local 5k to a full marathon all the way across the country.
Throughout this transformation from sedentary to active I started to realize how important it is to not only have a passion for an active lifestyle and how it brings you energy but there are days when waking up is not easy and you need to have something to boost your movement. I began to try different foods and in different quantities and finally found my combination. My combination includes 4oz of black coffee, 8-12oz of water, and a 200 calorie breakfast that is normally a slice of whole wheat toast with 1 tbsp of nut butter and a half a banana sliced on top (I eat the other half.) This provides me with the energy to start training at 430a and get through a 3 hour workout.
Now, since I am not a registered dietician or a doctor, I cannot tell you that this will work for you but I can tell you that caffeine is good for short burst workouts or endurance workouts. I can tell you that getting those fats and carbs topped off with the nut butter, electrolytes with the banana and fiber with whole wheat toast is going to help boost your performance. Eating breakfast is important in growing your energy and will help you also maintain a healthy weight….It’s that easy!
BUT Jason, I don’t want to eat whole wheat bread, nut butter, bananas, or drink coffee and water before a workout because it will upset my stomach. I understand that will just encourage you to try different items in an experiment to get to that right combination of foods / liquids that are going to get that energy going for you.
While thinking about writing this post I did some research on foods that could be consumed and help boost your energy and I came across an article from Kelly Bastone on Runner’s World that was reproduced on Active.com (clicking this link gets you to the full article.)
By Kelly Bastone
Whether you’re recovering from a tough tempo run or tendinitis, food delivers the nutrients your body needs to repair itself, making smart eating crucial to a strong body and a speedy recovery.
“Recovery is just like fixing a house,” says Cynthia Sass, R.D., a sports dietetics specialist in Tampa, Florida. “A crack in the foundation requires raw materials to patch things back together. In the body, those raw materials come from what we eat.”
A combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals helps your body heal microtears from exercise and overused tendons and sprained ligaments. “Every part of the body is dependent on food for repair,” says David Grotto, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. On a cellular level, those repairs are constant, sidelining injury or not.
Red Bell Pepper
Just one red bell pepper provides 380 percent of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C, a nutrient crucial for repairing connective tissues and cartilage. By contributing to the formation of collagen, an important protein used to build scar tissue, blood vessels, and even new bone cells, vitamin C facilitates the healing process. “Work in vitamin C throughout the day, every two or three hours or so,” says Sass, for five daily servings.
Runners-up: papaya, cantaloupe, oranges
Suggested Use: Julienne red bell peppers and slice the runners-up to top off a spinach salad that is not drenched in salad dressing. Put the balsamic vinagerette on the side and only dip the fork in the dressing before picking up the food from the plate.
Salmon’s nutritional benefits have been much touted for good reason. Fresh or canned, salmon delivers two powerful healing nutrients: protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Protein does more than rebuild muscle after a grueling run; it also repairs bones, ligaments, and tendons.
“We tend to forget that healing really means building new cells,” says Sass. “And your body needs protein to make those new cells.” She recommends all runners eat protein at every meal; injured runners should aim for four to five servings a day, from low-fat sources like egg whites and lean turkey. Salmon, with two grams of essential fatty acids per four-ounce serving, is doubly valuable. “Omega-3s are significant anti-inflammatories,” says Grotto. “Eating fish high in omega-3s or taking supplements is like throwing a big bucket of ice water on inflammation.” Inflammation occurs when waste matter generated by the body’s repair efforts builds up around the injury, inhibiting healing. Omega-3s help disperse that buildup, making them useful in addressing everything from sore muscles to stress fractures.
Runners-up: mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts
Suggested Use: Yes, you can grill salmon and put it on a salad but you probably don’t want to eat nothing but salad all the time. Before I became a vegetarian I would take a piece of salmon and wrap it in foil with sliced lemon, dill, and a pat of butter. Toss it in the oven which was pre-heated to 350* and bake for 30 minutes. While that is baking you can grill asparagus or any other vegetable and serve on the side.
Eat carrots for a potent dose of vitamin A: a half-cup serving provides 340 percent of your Daily Value. This nutrient helps make white blood cells for fighting infection, “which is always a risk with injury,” says Sass. You might not think infection is likely with tendinitis, but your body takes no chances and activates the immune system, which ups vitamin A demand. Vitamin A also helps repair postworkout microtears, so it’s a valuable ally every day.
Runners-up: sweet potatoes, dried apricots, spinach
Suggested Use: This is easy because I believe in making a garbage plate of sweet potato mash. In a microwave bake the sweet potato for 4-5 minutes. Remove and scoop out the meat and mash it with carrots, dried apricots and spinach in a bowl. Then put the contents of the bowl back into the shells of the sweet potato and enjoy. I typically also add some form of hot sauce and enjoy it post-workout.
Zinc is an important healing agent, but foods highest in zinc, like red meats, often contain saturated fat, which aggravates inflammation. So when the body is taxed—from exertion or injury runners should reach for fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, which can deliver as much as 100 percent of the Daily Value for zinc. By itself, zinc doesn’t repair damaged tissue, but it assists the proteins and fats that do. “Just don’t overdo it,” cautions Sass. Too much of this potent mineral lowers HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and actually suppresses your immune system.
Runners-up: shellfish, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
Suggested Use: Obviously this is going to be great in the morning for breakfast, but I also suggest that when that hunger pain hits at the end of the night make a bowl of cereal with half a serving size. This will lower your caloric intake but calm that hunger pain that creeps up.
Also, in my yogurt I will add sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. I also add these items to my overnight oats.
Just 1 oz.of almonds (roughly 20) contains more than 40 percent of your Daily Value of vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports the immune system by neutralizing free radicals. Almonds, like hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, also supply beneficial mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are key building blocks for healthy cells. “Fat is a structural part of your body, so don’t skimp on it, just eat the right kind,” says Sass. “Almonds supply heart-healthy fats that promote healing without clogging arteries.”
Runners-up: nut butters, avocados, vegetable oils
Suggested Use: For me this is somewhat easy because 7 days a week I will have a nut butter and jelly sandwich, either for lunch or for a snack. I typically slice a banana and/or strawberry into the sandwich as well. Lately, I have utilized avocado more and more but here is a video that I made that includes avocado that is excellent.