Dr. Brenda Gill
By Dr. Brenda Gill
May 2nd, 2016

Since the weather is warming up nicely and we’re already running and biking on the trails, I thought this would be a good time to talk about what to eat and use to enhance performance. This artricle and the next one will summarize and highlight foods and key ingredients that have research to back them, since there is a lot of misinformation out there about what works. This will improve what is going in and out of cells, optimize calorie and nutrient use, increase oxygenation and maximize removal of metabolites and help you feel like a super star!  

Nutritionally, one needs to consume good quality vegetable or animal protein.  Wild fish, especially salmon, halibut, herring and sardine is the most easily broken down and utilized, has the essential fatty acids DHA & EPA which lubricate the joints and protect nerve tissue, and is anti-inflammatory. Organic poultry is good, or if you are a red meat fan, lamb, bison or wild meat, since these are not inflammatory like pork and beef.

If you are vegetarian, nuts, seeds with beans and legumes are best. Protein is used to build muscle and repair tissue and any extra is used for energy or is eliminated. Therefore, it should be increased for regular exercisers proportionate to what you normally consume and the number of hours you are exercising. For example if your calorie intake is 2000/d, then increase your protein by 100-150 gm/d.

Complex carbohydrates high in fibre are also essential, for they provide long-term energy, protein for tissue building and fats for lubrication and nerve tissue support. In terms of grains, quinoa, brown rice, oats and millet are your best choices, since they are alkalinizing. Also included are 2-3 fruit, especially the dark fruits, for example cherries, berries, plums, canteloupe, rhubarb, apricot, papaya, peach, kiwi and pomegranate. Bioflavinoids give them their dark colour and are not only anti-inflammatory, but minimize allergies and help you be alkaline, which maximizes the body’s ability to remove metabolic waste products like lactic acid and prevent bruising.

Don’t forget those veggies! 5-6 veggie servings during the day, especially the green ones like kale, swiss chard, arugula, cilantro, parsley, collards, beet tops and cooked spinach are super foods. Not only are they packed full of vitamins and minerals, but, they keep you alkaline as well. Note though, I’ve had a few folks in recently that have developed skin rashes from putting raw spinach in their smoothies. It is best to cook spinach, because it will break down the oxalic acid.

Fat intake should be low to moderate with the majority of them omega 3, 6 and 9’s. High fat intake slows the body down, can increase the percentage of body fat, decrease the blood flow due to clogging and increase the load on the heart. The worst offender of this is anything from a cow or pig. Therefore, use olive oil or coconut oil for cooking, use olive or seed oils for salads and the rest and include those nut butters like almond, cashew or hazelnut. Sesame seed (tahini) or sunflower seed butter (not peanut since it is a legume) are rich in omega 6’s and fish or ground flax, pumpkin, hemp, chia seeds or their butters have omega 3’s.  Minimize luncheon meats, bacon, ham or foods cooked in animal fat.

The duration and intensity of the activity determines the needed calories, protein and other nutrients.

 Always remember to minimize alcohol, cigarettes, and stimulants, such as coffee, tea, herba mate, honeybush, rooibos or sodas. This reduces the load the liver has to detoxify, therefore it can focus on degrading breakdown products from your workouts.

Stimulants leach valuable minerals from your bone which weakens them, makes you acidic so you can’t move lactic acid from your cells and increases cortisol release which diminishes your immune system. Especially important is having NONE before an event, otherwise, you’re more likely to “hit the wall” and not perform as well. 

Iron- rich foods may be needed to maintain the oxygen capacity of the blood. These are red meats, like lamb, bison or wild meat, organic liver, oysters, green- leafy veggies, prunes and mushrooms.

Sport nutrition dietary guidelines are:

 Carbos – 35-40%

·         40% fruits/veggies

·         60% whole grains, legumes and starchy veggies


·         animal- fish, poultry, lamb, bison, wild meat, eggs and goat or sheep dairy

·         vegetable- nuts and seeds, beans and legumes

 Fats- 20-30%

·         saturated- meats, eggs and dairy

·         unsaturated- fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, nut, seed and vegetable oils

Whenever the activity increases sweating, the fluids need to be replaced, as well as extra minerals, so drink an extra cup of alkaline water per hour of exercise with ¼ c of diluted dark fruit juices with minerals (a Vitamin C buffered powder with calcium, magnesium and potassium).

For long events or on hot days, an electrolyte solution can be added to the water to provide calories and energy. Also, drink alkaline water 2-3 hours before the event to fill the tissues and throughout the activity as well. 

This should give you a head start on improved performance.  For those that want an individualized approach, consider an appointment with  Dr. Brenda Gill at 250-362-5035

Categories: HealthSports

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