Best superfoods for athletes: five of the best for power and endurance
Superfoods are booming in sports performance and today you can’t talk with an elite athlete or forward thinking coach without them coming up. Their ability to boost and power performance is stunning. They are natural rocket fuel and it’s great to see the message getting through that powerful performance needs powerful nutrition, and that industrial sports nutrition with its sweeteners, additives and production line powders is the exact opposite. Even so, there’s a world of difference between understanding the value of the best superfoods for athletes, and actually incorporating these powerhouse ingredients into your diet.
Many are expensive and plenty don’t taste great, which can mean a lot of difficult experimentation in the early days. It’s not much fun gastronomically or financially, and can be the undoing of many athletes best intentions. It was perfecting this process ourselves that lead to the creation of 33Fuel’s Pre and Post Workout Shakes as well as our Chia Energy Gels, making power-packed superfood sports nutrition delicious and simple.
Here are some of our favourite superfoods for athletes - in all cases we’d recommend using these ingredients in their raw, unprocessed forms as cooking, roasting and processing destroy many of the best nutrients in the food. For the same reason, buying the highest quality organic, non-GMO and pesticide-free varieties also pays serious dividends.
1 Raw coconut: MCT-packed immune booster
Packed with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to promote the body's ability to fuel from fat, raw coconut is also a great source of dietary fibre to prevent blood sugar swings, lower blood pressure and relieve stress. It’s packed with essential minerals and will also boost your immune system, particularly helpful when training hard as immune function is easily lowered by hard training.
Coconut rocks, eat it any way you like (note: Bounty bars don't count)
2 Chia seeds: stable energy legends, great anti-inflammatories
With carbs, protein, essential fatty acids and heart-healthy fibre chia seeds rock. They also deliver a great hit of anti-inflammatories to assist muscle recovery and are a great way to increase your good fat intake to boost fat-burning performance too - the more the body gets used to ingesting good fat, the more it understands fat is its go-to fuel, thus saving the carbs for when you really need them.
For more on fat-burning, this post is a great place to start
3 Spirulina: protein powerhouse
So powerful, you could live eating nothing else. Spirulina contains 60% protein which makes steak (just 22%) look pretty hopeless. Add high levels of vitamin B12, vitamin E, 15 times as much vitamin A as carrots, alongside calcium and Omegas 3 & 6 and you’ve got the best single food source on the planet. That is the power of plants right there.
4 Raw chlorella: big detox meets big protein
This baby is a powerful protein/detox one-two. With over twice the protein as chicken (and none of the added salt, hormones or antibiotics), it is also stacked full of all the goodness of the best green veggies making it a detoxing fortifying gem.
5 Chia seeds
The Tarahumara runners in Christopher McDougall’s bestseller ‘Born to Run’ fueled their running with chia seeds for good reason – these mighty seeds are the perfect endurance fuel stuffed with carbs, proteins, Omega-3s and antioxidants. Unprocessed seeds are a must – processing destroys chia’s natural oils which contain the best nutrients.