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7 athletic superfoods you've never heard of

Posted by James Eacott on

Spinach, blueberries, kale, garlic, turmeric, green tea. As their popularity rockets, superfoods like these are commonplace in many kitchens. Now here are seven athletic superfoods you might not have heard of

athletic superfoods - spinach kale

Athletic superfoods - an introduction

Superfoods are more popular than ever in sports performance. Considered to be particularly dense in nutrients and beneficial to health and wellbeing, every forward-thinking coach ensures their athletes eat them whenever possible.

They're natural rocket fuel and at 33 we love that the message is getting through to athletes that nutrient density matters for optimal sports performance.

It simply makes total sense that to get the best from your body, you need high-quality fuel going in.

Even so, there’s a world of difference between understanding the value superfoods deliver and actually incorporating them into your diet. If you try any of the below, use them in their raw, unprocessed form whenever you can because cooking and/or processing destroys many of their beneficial properties.

Hungry? Then let’s tuck in.

Spirulina - the most nutritious food source going

athletic superfoods - spirulina

Spirulina: green and mighty, like The Hulk. Grrr

First harvested by the Aztecs, spirulina contains three times more protein than steak and 15 times more vitamin A than carrots.

Add high levels of vitamins B12 and E, calcium and Omega 3 and it’s easy to see why it’s a strong contender for the most nutritious food on the planet.

Spirulina is a powerful antioxidant: it inhibits oxidation which prevents damage to cells by free radicals. For athletes, this means an improved immune system, better energy levels and fewer injuries, all of which add up to high quality, consistent training and racing performance.

Goji berries - a natural stimulant to bomb-proof your body

High in anthocyanidins, polysaccharides, carotenoids, vitamin C and A, goji berries are another powerful antioxidant helping protect the body from infection and disease, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological diseases.

One study found:

Anticancer activity and lack of toxicity against normal cells indicate a chemo-preventive potential of Goji berries in breast cancer treatment”. 

Another that:

“Daily consumption of goji berry juice significantly increased several immunological responses and subjective feelings of general well-being without any adverse reactions”.

Athletic superfoods - goji berries

Goji berries - add to muesli, cereal, porridge and smoothies for an antioxidant boost

They’re also a great source of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid concentrated in the eyes crucial for optimal visual health.

Maca - performance benefits on the field and in the bedroom

Maca improves our ability to transport oxygen around the body and hsas been shown to improve aerobic endurance thanks to its positive impact on aerobic capacity, energy levels and mental clarity.

Maca's also a great source of calcium and amino acids and has been shown to work wonders for sexual health in both men and women.

Chlorella - the ultimate detox

Like spirulina, chlorella is an algae with a stellar athletic nutrient profile. High in protein, antioxidants, Omega-3, fibre and much more, chlorella will:

  • Enhance your immune system
  • Detoxify the body
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Keep blood pressure and sugar levels in check
  • Enhance aerobic endurance

Cacao - kick inflammation into touch

The raw form of dark chocolate has an incredibly high flavanol content which improves circulation, reduces risk of blood clots and delivers an anti-inflammatory punch.

Flavanols also protects your cells from damage caused by free radicals which accelerate the aging process.

On top of all that, it tastes great. 

Note: whenever you read in the papers that 'chocolate is good for you' they're always referring to raw cacao which is indeed a total health and performance demon. The more diluted the raw cacao the fewer the benefits though, and by the time you get to all mainstream chocolate bars there's zero goodness left - any lone cacao trace remaining will have long since been rendered useless by a ton of other cr*p. 

Watch the spelling too, some less than scrupulous marketeers are now trumpeting the very ordinary 'cocoa' in their chocolate products, hoping to piggyback on raw cacao's good name. Get yours as the raw product, or make sure the chocolate you're consuming contains plenty of it. 

athletic superfoods - raw cacao

Cacao - good for the body, great for the tastebuds

Raw coconut - boost fat burning

Packed with medium-chain triglycerides, coconut boosts the body’s ability to utilise fat stores as fuel. Coconut has been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels, reduce stress and boost the immune system – particularly helpful when immunity is compromised by heavy training load.

Chia seeds - endurance super-fuel

Read Christopher McDougall’s bestseller Born to Run?

Then you’ll know the Tarahumara runners featured in the book fueled their running with chia seeds. And for good reason.

These mighty seeds are the perfect endurance fuel packed with carbs, protein, Omega-3 and antioxidants. Unprocessed seeds are a must – processing destroys chia’s natural oils which contain the best nutrients. It’s no wonder they’re one of just four ingredients in our Chia Energy Gels.

Athletic superfoods - conclusion

Superfood research grows daily and it’s clear they’re key for athletic performance. To get the best from your body, you need the best fuel. After all, you wouldn’t put low-grade petrol in a Ferrari and expect it reach its highest speeds.

For the mightiest - and most delicious - athletic superfood hit to support your biggest training blocks and race efforts when you truly need to turn your nutrition up to 11, our unique Elite Pre & Post Workout Shakes pack the 33 most powerful athletic superfoods in nature. Get them on your side and discover what you're really capable of here.

7 superfoords you've never heard of - elite pre and post shake

33's Elite Pre & Post Workout Shakes: superfood superpower for your biggest training days and races

More performance boosting content

From the Vlog – science and sports nutrition: is it really helping?

From the Podcast – maltodextrin and sports nutrition: a bad combo

From the Blog

Nutrient density and sports performance

Sports nutrition’s toxic twelve ingredients

Top 10 superfoods for energy and recovery

Pre workout nutrition: what to eat, when to eat it and what to avoid

Maltodextrin and sports nutrition – a bad combo

Whey protein for endurance athletes


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