The top 10 superfoods for energy and recovery
Superfoods are just whole, natural foods with a particularly high concentration of beneficial nutrients. When you’re looking to maximise athletic performance they’re the best place to start. Nature’s powerhouses, superfoods will turbo your diet from ‘good’ to ‘phenomenal’. At 33Fuel we’ve been studying and using the most powerful superfoods for years so to get you started below are our top 10 superfoods for energy and recovery.
Because when you want to raise your game, superfoods deliver all of the good stuff, at full strength, and right from the source, unlike supplements which have invariably had every last ounce of goodness processed out of them.
Every food here packs multiple nutritional benefits in a single source, with many containing a combination of protein, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, good fats and other major benefits. This is what nutrient-density means and it’s why it matters so much for a performance diet.
The idea that sports nutrition is little more than carbs and protein is well out of date. To maximise performance you need to maximise nutrient density, so focus your diet on whole foods, and add superfoods like the ones below to take things to the next level.
All superfoods do is make it super-easy to turn the beneficial nutrients in your diet up to 11 and beyond.
For the most powerful blend of superfoods for athletic performance and recovery in one delicious hit, why not try our groundbreaking Pre and Post Workout Shakes. They're all you need to take your performance to the next stage.
Want to run mountains? Get your diet powerful and nutrient dense with superfoods
1 Bananas - nature's energy bar
One of the most common fruits in the supermarket, bananas are also a prime superfood and are nature’s energy bar, totally portable and with their own waterproof, recyclable wrapper.
With 25% of your daily vitamin B6 and 15% of your daily vitamin C bananas start strong and only get better thanks to a great hit of potassium which can protect against high blood pressure, as well as provding handy electrolyte replenishment during and after exercise.
They’re also a great carb source for keeping you fueled during longer efforts, and with plenty of fibre that carb-hit is strong and steady without the flash-crash from processed sugars.
How to use: slice into porridge, blitz into smoothies and our Pre and Post Workout Shakes, blend into baking recipes instead of sugar, chow down raw anytime you like, or slice and freeze - blending frozen bananas make a great ice cream or frozen smoothie
Think the humble banana's not a superfood? Think again
2 Flaxseeds - the power seed
These little brown seeds are nature’s richest plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids so help promote stable energy levels and reduce inflammation at the same time. They also pack a hugely concentrated hit of antioxidants.
Add to this a good dose of protein, the ability to regulate sugar cravings, to help reduce cholesterol and properties to assist in balancing hormones and you can see why flaxseeds in your diet are so powerful.
How to use flaxseeds: sprinkle on salads or deserts, spin in smoothies
3 Maca root powder - the endurance booster
Also known simply as Maca powder, this naturally enhances endurance performance and energy levels.
Plus it has powerful flavonoids which studies have shown can boost mood and ease anxiety, and is also an effective adaptogen helping the body adapt to changing physical and mental stresses, very useful during hard training.
Traditionally used in Peru to improve children’s performance in school, maca may also improve brain function.
Naturally low in fat and high in protein, while also delivering vitamin C, iron, copper, potassium and vitamin B6 you can see why maca is an ideal addition to any athletic diet.
How to use maca: stir into smoothies or porridge, mix into hot drinks (hot chocolate with raw cacao - see below - is a favourite of ours)
4 Raw cacao - health chocolate
You know all of those stories claiming "chocolate is good for you!", well, that’s down to raw cacao which is one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet.
A regular chocolate bar however is not a superfood as it contains bugger all raw cacao, being largely made of sugar, milk and vegetable fat. No harm in eating a bit when you fancy, just don’t ever confuse it with being good for you.
Raw cacao on the other hand is the business. It’s antioxidant powerpack helps your immune system - essential for endurance athletes whose immune systems are easily compromised by exercise stress - while its theobromine content also helps reduce blood pressure and increase lung function while reducing coughing and asthma symptoms.
How to use raw cacao: it comes in two forms - cacao nibs which can be sprinkled into smoothies, fruit salads and deserts, and cacao powder which can be blended into smoothies or used for hot chocolate
5 Chlorella - ultimate detox
Chlorella is one of the most nutrient dense greens you’ll find anywhere, easily outranking broccoli, kale and spinach.
A dark green freshwater algae, chlorella delivers a host of superfood benefits including:
1 Helps detox the body from heavy metals. No, not Metallica and Iron Maiden, we’re talking about the likes of mercury, uranium and lead picked up through fish consumption, radiation exposure (eg: x-rays) or atmospheric pollutants (running through central London or New York anyone?)
2 Has strong anti-inflammatory properties for post-training soreness reduction
3 A powerful aid to immune function that can also help increase good bacteria in the digestive system for positive gut health
How to use chlorella: blitz in smoothies or add to water and drink
6 Turmeric - pure health spice
This well-known and very tasty spice is a very powerful anti-inflammatory that also helps immune function and can also improve brain function, kidney function and balance of blood sugar. A number of animal studies also show it can reduce cancer risk.
Best of all, you don’t need a ton of turmeric to make a difference, as little as 50mg daily can have huge benefits over time.
Just one note - be careful when using turmeric as it easily stains anything it comes into contact with.
How to use turmeric: cook into curries, add sparingly to smoothies
Turmeric: tasty, awesome, very yellow
7 Shredded coconut - good fat taste sensation
A ready natural energy source and also an excellent food for medium chain triglycerides to help fueling efficiency, raw shredded coconut also has loads of good dietary fibre to help avoid sugar spikes.
There’s a good hit of protein in there too, along with worthwhile amounts of iron and zinc.
How to use shredded coconut: blend into smoothies, stir into rice for Thai and Indian dishes, add to porridge and fruit salads
8 Acai berries - antioxidant superstars
Just about the most potent source of antioxidants anywhere, acai berries deliver incredible bang for buck. Not only will they help fight off illness in the body, studies have shown the phytonutrients in acai berries to be effective in reducing cancer cells.
In other news acai berries have also been seen to decrease joint pain and increase range of movement in conditions like osteoarthritis. If you’ve ever had to hobble down stairs backwards after a marathon, acai berries are for you!
How to use acai berries: either dried of powdered acai work well, and can be easily added to smoothies or, in the case of the berries, simpy scoffed by the handful
9 Kiwi fruit - sleep booster
Small, green and hairy may not be the description that sets your pulse racing about a food, but this fits the kiwi fruit to a tee, and this is a fruit you should be getting all juiced up about if you’re in need of a good night’s sleep.
Because a recent study has shown two kiwi fruit, an hour before bed, can significantly improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency. In other words, you’ll get to sleep more easily, sleep longer, and sleep better.
All from a couple of fruit. Ain’t nature bloody marvellous.
How to use: slice into fruit salad, juice into smoothies, or just enjoy on its own
Kiwi fruit: get some zeds
10 Water - liquid of life
Okay already, so not technically a food, but water makes this list every time for us because without it, we would quite literally die. Swapping anything you drink - tea, coffee, soda, beer, wine, cider or cocktails - for water is an instant health upgrade and the easiest beneficial change anyone could make to their diet.
How to use: we think you can probably handle this one without instructions
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