Almost everyone I talk to in the gym knows they need to eat protein to help their workouts. But few athletes understand the importance of micro nutrition in their physical performance.
Here are the fiver biggest nutrition mistakes athletes make that could sabotage your workout.
1. Not Eating Enough Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats are critical to your health – and to a healthy workout. Research now suggests we should be eating as close to a 1:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats as possible. Despite the research, the average American has a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats of 45:1 – meaning we’re way out of balance!
The problem with being that out of balance is that too many Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory, meaning it causes inflammation. And inflammation in your joints or soft tissues can lead to injuries, soft tissue pain, and even arthritis. Not only that, but inflammation can also lead to the #1 killer in the United States – heart disease – not to mention cancer, diabetes, stroke and other horrible chronic diseases.
So if you want to stay healthy and avoid injuries, eating more Omega-3 fats is important!
2. Not Getting Enough Vitamin D
A recent study found that over 70% of children in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D – but the real numbers are probably much greater than that across the board when you consider that the RDA for Vitamin D for an adult is still just 600 IU a day – even though new research shows we should be getting 4000 to 6000 IU a day.
But Vitamin D isn’t just a vitamin – it’s actually a hormone that interacts with over 20% of your genes. Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and strong muscles – and a deficiency of Vitamin D has been shown to lead to weakened muscles. So make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D every day – if you’re not sure have your doctor run a test. Your Vitamin D level should be between 60 to 80 ng/mL.
3. Not Eating Enough Fiber
When you’re working out, your muscles need every bit of energy they can get. If you’re not eating enough fiber, you could be backed up (constipated), meaning your body has to spent all that extra energy just trying to get your digestive system to function properly.
When you eat a high fiber diet full of whole foods – fruits, veggies, berries, nuts, legumes, seeds and whole grains, you won’t be constipated – and you’ll have more energy for workouts. Not only that, but your body will be better able to repair after workouts and eliminate the waste products from exercise.
4. Not Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables
You might think all you need to workout is protein – but it’s not true! Your body needs antioxidants, enzymes and other nutrients from fruits and vegetables to function properly. In fact, a study in Austria of the elite Cobra Forces anti-terrorist unit showed that eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce muscle damage in athletes. Not only that, but the study also found that the soldiers who got more fruit and veggie nutrition also had less days of duty missed due to illness – 50% less!
Just imagine how far ahead you would compared to the competition be if you could protect yourself like that!
5. Not Eating Berries
Berries are an athlete’s friend. The dark blue and purple berries especially are full of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a powerhouse family of antioxidants that are found in most fruits and vegetables – but especially in dark blue and purple berries. Anthocyanins not only help fight cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases, but they also help protect your cardiovascular health.
Anthocyanins help your endothelium (the lining of your blood vessels) to function better. And your endothelium is responsible for releasing Nitric Oxide – the chemical that opens up your blood vessels when you work out to get more oxygen and nutrition to them when they need it most.
This article written by Tom Corson-Knowles, founder of Authentic Health Coaching. Tom blogs regularly about healthy eating, all natural weight loss tips, and growing your own fruits and vegetables at home.