Written by Akesha Smith
The bond between a food diet and a person’s well-being is too great to ignore. Fuelling your body correctly can help massively by giving you the correct amount of energy to push yourself in your workout, or stay awake and effective throughout your day. Snacking on something quick and sugary to get a quick buzz to boost your day is not the best way. Superfoods are used widely across the board with elite athletes as it helps aid in their recovery and their ability to perform to their maximum potential. Being able to recover quickly and efficiently is key to them then being able to push themselves again in their next workout.
Superfood is a term given to foods that are nutrient-rich foods which are thought to be beneficial to your well-being and health. It is thought that eating these enriched foods it will help boost our mental and physical ability. Superfoods are usually rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which recent studies have shown that omega-3 is a very good source for the body, especially to those who endure large amounts of intense workouts as it aids in your recovery.
Complex carbohydrates such as bulgur wheat, giant white couscous and quinoa are all good substitutes for rice and pasta which are processed carbohydrates which do not have any benefits for when you are training. Slow releasing foods like the complex carbohydrates keep the body energised throughout the day instead of processed foods like pasta which goes straight into the bloodstream and is then stored as fat.
400m European Junior Champion twenty-year-old Great Britain athlete, Laviai Nielsen, is convinced that superfoods have helped her career and have given her an edge. Laviai started introducing superfoods to her diet when she began to take her athletics more seriously and realised the many benefits superfoods have on her performance. “From my experience of training, every little detail and change matters…finding alternatives can give you the edge in your training and recovery”. Transitioning from your daily food diet to superfoods can be difficult for beginners as there is so much to choose from. However, Laviai explains that to make the change and stick to it, it is a lot easier than most people think. “You have to take it step by step, you can’t just rush into it…transitioning was easy as I enjoyed the taste, the only downside is the cooking time and preparation is longer”.
More people need to incorporate superfoods into their diet as well as athletes as it not only fuels your workouts but fuels your whole day and provides you with the correct amount of energy you’ll need for your everyday life. “Superfoods has definitely benefited me, not just for my sport but it helps in everyday life…being a student I feel that the right foods provide me with enough energy to help me concentrate on my studies at university and keep me energised”. Replacing small things in your food diet like pasta and rice for a healthier alternative is easier to do rather than changing your whole diet. Many people fail at the nutrition hurdle as they change too much from their original diet and can not keep up with the drastic change they have undertaken.
Start at a pace you can manage, don’t be too ambitious. A good start would be to cut down on all the junk food from your diet. However, if you have been eating certain junk foods for a period of time, to suddenly cut it out completely, will cause you and your body a lot of unnecessary stress. The best way to go about this is to gradually wean yourself off the bad processed foods and introduce more complex carbohydrates like bulgur wheat, couscous and quinoa.
Including fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet is always a bonus to your food dishes. “Take a meal that you normally eat for example chicken and rice and swap the rice for bulgar wheat and add salad and vegetables” Instead of having a packet of crisp and a chocolate bar for a snack, have the crisp with some fruit. By only swapping out one thing, you are not totally depriving your body of what it is used to. As the days carry on, and you begin to get used to this, you can then swap out more of the bad food for healthier options. People do not realise just how important nutrition is when it comes to losing fat and becoming healthier. “Always look for alternatives for pasta and rice…they are good for you but not exactly nutritionally whole”. Losing body fat begins with your nutrition and diet.
Snacking in between meals may not seem like anything much as it is something small, however snacking on the wrong this no matter the size can have big effects. Laviai expresses the importance of snacking and how easy it can be to quickly have a chocolate bar instead of a healthier alternative. “Snacking can be evil! You have to snack right…I find that eating dried fruits and fruits, in general, gives me the right sugars my needs. I also like snacking on nuts, obviously the unsalted one and unroasted one…but don’t get me wrong I love dark chocolate and have a bit of that sometimes, it is healthy so I don’t feel bad eating it!”.
Overall superfoods are something everyone should be involving into their diets, whether you take your sport seriously or not. The benefits of having a healthier diet are too great to ignore, especially now with the many recipes available online everywhere for anyone and everyone to use. Healthy food does not mean boring salads anymore, you can be adventurous and introduce new foods to your palette. Being healthy does not always mean what you are doing physically. Being healthy starts with your nutrition, not having a balanced diet leads to not having the right fuel to maintain or increase your sporting goals and level. Better food equals better results.