Nutrient Density for Performance
When it comes to optimizing performance and recovery, nutrition plays a major role. At the foundational level, you need to eat the right amount of macronutrients – carbs, protein, and fat to fuel your workouts. However, micronutrients are often overlooked. These trace vitamins and minerals enhance performance and maximize your immune system, which aids in recovery from exercise.
It goes without saying that you should strive to consume these micronutrients in the form of whole foods – a variety of foods that span the colors of the rainbow (no, not skittles!). This is where nutrient density comes into play. Nutrient dense foods give you the most nutrients for the fewest amount of calories. These foods give you the best bang for your buck, containing the highest amount of vitamins and minerals, which are needed for many bodily processes. They are important cofactors in reactions that produce growth and repair of tissues, increase oxygen transport, and support the immune system (antioxidants). Any deficiency will negatively effect performance and stunt athletic potential.
Vitamins are important for the regulation of metabolism (the breakdown of food). One very important group are the B-Vitamins which help metabolize carbohydrates. Efficient carbohydrate metabolism is essential because many sports require glucose for muscular fuel. A deficiency in these vitamins results in a decreased time to fatigue (you get tired faster) and therefore an inability to maintain a heavy training program. Vitamin B-12 is of special importance because it helps with white blood cell production – a key facet for a healthy immune system. From a recovery standpoint, nutrients such as Vitamin C and D help with repair of connective tissue (collagen) and bone formation. These allow for a strong, resilient musculoskeletal system that is able to withstand hard training.
Lastly, vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, and pantothenic acid help with the function of mitochondria. These are the power house parts of each and every cell in our body. They are the machinery that create the energy needed for muscular contractions, hence, movement.
As a physical therapist, I spend a lot of time interacting with athletes. We discuss, not only their training and movement, but also their nutrition and lifestyle factors. One common denominator I have observed over the years is a deficiency in these micronutrients. Many of these athletes are literally destroying themselves in the gym in order to improve their performance in the sporting arena or out in the environment hiking, mountain climbing, or racing. However, they don’t have the necessary building blocks to recover well enough and improve their performance. That’s why I recommend the nutrient rich energy supplement, PepPod. This one little effervescent tablet helps fill in the holes in their nutrition. It is easy to take first thing in the morning with water, and because of the convenience factor I trust them to be adherent to this recommendation.
My athletes no longer leave anything on the table. They start their morning with a PepPod and are ready to attack the day head on to get the most out of their training.