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Supermat för löpare: Top 10 superfoods for runners

November 26, 2012

Learn how to use the beet, a very potent and cheap superfood, perfect for athletes. Photo: Ola Kjelbye

I know that runners are exposed to nutritional information on a regular basis. However, still many runners are unaware of the benefits of high quality nutrition, which could help them recover faster, build a strong immune defense  and increase their performance.

Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier has found that nutrition is a crucial factor for optimal recovery. In fact  80% of recovery has to do with nutrition, according to Brazier, who has conducted extensive research and written several books about optimal nutrition for athletes. His message is clear: “Workout is a form of stress where you break down your body tissue, muscles, cells, ligaments and tendons, and if you don’t give yourself good food to reconstruct that, then your body has no choice but to take the food you give it and build new body tissue. For the serious athlete the obvious choice is high quality food right after a workout.”

My own sprouted and dried hemp seeds. However the powder is much easier to use. Photo: Ola Kjelbye

This brings us to superfoods, which are the best foods for humans from a nutritional and medicinal point of view. Below I have selected ten of the most potent superfoods and nutritients for the conscious runner. As an ambassador for Superfruit I can offer readers of my blog a 20% discount at Superfruitstore. This offer is valid until Dec 21. Use this discount code at the cashier: friptyk2012.

1. Hemp powder. Why? Runners tend to forget to eat protein after workouts. You can tell from their skinny appearances. Hemp is an easily digested and natural protein source. Make a post-run protein smoothie with frozen berries, yoghurt, oat milk, banana, hemp powder and honey. If desired you can boost it with some chia seeds and bee pollen.

Hawthorn berry farmer on Gotland, Sweden. Hawthorn, “the goji berry of the north”, is also known for it’s lubricant omega-7 properties.

2. Coconut water. Make sure to refill your body with minerals after workout, and why not with the best source of natural electrolytes.

3. Beet root. Nitrates can improve your stamina with up to 16%. Include beet root in your weekly diet, as juice, raw in salad, or in soup, like Borscht.

World class Thule Adventure Team use superfoods from Superfruit to boost their performance and stay focused.

4. Greens. Nitrates also makes stronger muscles, according to researchers at Karolinska Institutet. Still, not even 1 of 10 swedes manage to eat the RDI of 500 grams of vegetables and fruit. Either you need to eat loads of leafy greens like spinach, kale, lettuce and vegetables like beet root and fennel – or, drink your greens! Instead of chewing leaves all day long like monkeys you can easily make shakes and smoothies with “green powders”. Myself I have been using nettle powder, Green Magma barley grass and VitaMineral Green.

5. Hawthorn berry is known for improving cardiovascular function and strengthen blood vessels. It’s also loaded with powerful antioxidant nutrients that neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress and tissue damage in the body.

I used all kinds of superfoods during Marathon des Sables 2009, where I finished 28th.

6. Spirulina. Apart from its cleansing ability spirulina is a rich source of easily digested proteins (in the form of amino acids), essential omega -3 and -6 fatty acids, B-Vitamin and powerful phytonutrients (anti-oxidants). Mix with apple juice and other green powders.

7. Astaxanthin, the red algae, or “the king of carotenoids” is what make salmon flesh red and is believed to help them swim upstream for days. This super-antioxidant can increase your strength and stamina, improve your stamina, enable faster recovery from excercise and reduce joint and muscle soreness after a vigourous workout. You can find this super-antioxidant, which halts the muscles’ ageing process, in Omega-3 Krill oil.

Learn more about optimal nutrition. Brendan Braziers book “Thrive” has plenty of recipes.

8. Vitamin D. Any serious athlete knows the importance of staying healthy. Vitamin D, which is crucial for a strong immune defense among many other things, is probably the most important nutrient you can buy. Best is Vitamin D liquid drops.

9. Magnesium. Even small shortfalls in magnesium intake can seriously impair athletic performance: it reduces metabolic efficiency, increases oxygen consumption and heart rate required to perform work. During intensive exercise you lose minerals through sweat, the most important being magnesium. Improved levels of magnesium will help your body combat fatigue and heat exhaustion.

10. Chia is rich in omega-3 and protein, but what makes this seed really interesting for endurance athletes is its ability to store water, minerals and energy in your body.

When I first stumbled across the word “superfood” some years ago, I was intrigued and began the journey of learning more about the most nutritious natural foods on the planet. Doing reasearch for my MDS/superfood-project: eating only superfoods during my participation in Marathon Des Sables, the extreme desert marathon in Morroccan Sahara, I read David Wolfe’s book “Superfoods” among others, attended lectures, made lots of interviews and browsed Internet for information. Among published articles in 2009 was a 6 page feature story about superfoods for Göteborgs-Posten. During the years I have been using the word “superfood” many times, since it descibes well what it’s all about: nutritionally dense natural foods with powerful health benefits. Today however, companies in Europe selling these foods, can’t label them “superfoods” anylonger or make any health claims whatsoever, due to political reasons (read: thanks to the lobby groups setting the agenda for EFSA). You might want to know what’s the agenda behind EFSA’s deeds and the Codex Alimentarius. Luckily you can get a glimpse, thanks to NHF, the National Health Federation, who is attending EFSA’s meetings.

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