Monday, October 27, 2014

Improve Your Endurance Performance with Pre and Probiotic Foods

Many athletes complain of fatigue, upper respiratory tract infections and digestive upset when the stress of training increases through changes in training volume and or intensity. By paying attention to your ecosystem and harnessing the health benefits of pre and probiotic foods, you may jolt some improvements in your athletic performance and over all well-being via enhanced recovery, improved immune function and the maintenance of a healthy gut. Prebiotics foods are those foods with fructans or resistant starches (inulin) that trigger the ongoing growth and performance of the probiotics (also known as your “good” bacteria) in the gut. Work prebiotics into your diet by regularly including plant based foods that are sources of fructans or inulin (see table below). You can also check the ingredient list of packaged foods such as cereals, cookies, breads, and yoghurts to see if inulin has been added. Probiotics are the live micro-organisms contained in the food we eat. They survive the process of digestion so that they can flourish and multiply in the large intestine to maintain a healthy digestive balance (West, N.P., Pyne, D.B., Peake, J.M., Cripps, A.W. Probiotics, immunity and exercise: A review. Exer Immunol Rev. 2009: 15-107-26). Probiotics are found in fermented foods and foods containing active or live cultures of yeasts or bacteria (see table below). Some of these are carbohydrate:protein combinations (e.g. buttermilk, yogurt, kefir) making them important potential contributors to post workout refueling. Pre- and probiotics work best together so develop and maintain their synbiotic relationship in your gut by including dietary sources of both on a regular basis. Examples include sourdough bread with peanut and banana; honey sweetened yoghurt with muesli; steamed asparagus spears with a tempeh spinach salad; home-made vegetarian pizza; vegetable stir fry with beans and rice; wheat crackers with fermented pickles and slices of gouda.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Paleolithic Diet vs. Eating for Endurance

While humans living in the Paleolithic and even earlier (pre-fire) times appeared to have been relatively healthy, their life span was not very long. Since those times we have adapted to a rather different pattern of eating – a higher carbohydrate intake from the addition of grains, cereals, starchy vegetables, milk products, and a variety of fruits in fresh, dried and juice form. This pattern is associated with the long life span we now have AND this pattern of eating fuels endurance athletes to train hard, recover and repeat on a daily basis (See Table below). While the Paleolithic diet may give you enough fuel to maintain your cross country skiing and other endurance training note that it is a high volume diet; that is, you have to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits to get a sufficient amount of carbohydrate INTO your muscles to ski, run, cycle or swim fast and far. These types of plant foods have a tendency to fill you up and quash your hunger BEFORE you actually have sufficiently refueled. It might take you a few days of training to realize that you haven't been refueling adequately – and you will know because your endurance performance will be negatively affected and even easy workouts will feel hard. Make some slight adjustments to the Paleo diet by including some non-Paleo foods before, during and after your training. Start by including dried fruit and/or high glycemic index fruits in your pre-workout snack and then add potatoes (roasted, mashed, baked or boiled) to your post workout meals. If you are going to be using sport drinks and gels during your race then you should get used to them in your longer distance training sessions. These slight adjustments to your dietary intake on your training days should help to optimize your energy level during your training sessions. Top Nutritional Mistakes Made by Endurance Athletes


Food Origin




Animal Foods


Lean meats (especially grass-fed animals) like chicken, turkey, pork, lean beef, and buffalo

Fish and seafood, eggs


Lean red meats, chicken, turkey, pork, etc

Organ meats for iron

Fish and seafood


Milk, yogurt, cheese


Milk, yogurt, cheese

Plant Foods

All nuts (except peanuts) and seeds

All nuts and seeds


Plant and nut-based oils (olive, walnut, grape seed, and coconut)


All plant, nut and seed based oils


Seed oils (e.g. sunflower, safflower, etc)

Fresh fruits

FALL fresh, frozen and dried  fruits

100% fruit juices

ONLY non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, salad greens, bell peppers, carrots, and squash)

ALL starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes, sweet potatoes) and non-starchy vegetables

Legumes (e.g. chickpeas, hummus, lentils, kidney beans, etc)


All grains & cereals,


All grains & cereals (e.g. wheat, rice, quinoa, oats, oatmeal, rye, barley, etc)


Only unprocessed foods without salt, refined sugars and trans fats

ONLY unprocessed and minimally processed foods

Refined sugars during training (i.e. sport drinks and gels)