Most of us only hope to perform at the level of elite athletes and, while dreams of the Olympics may not be a reality, you can still snag their snacking secrets to improve your workout.
Chrissy Barth, Sports Dietitian and owner of Live.Breathe.Nutrition, says high performing athletes have three primary concerns; staying hydrated, avoiding cramping, and making the final push.
Here are snacking suggestions for each category to help you gain your competitive edge.
Staying hydrated - Hydration is essential for all athletes, particularly in the summer months. In addition to water and sports drinks, pro athletes achieve maximum hydration by consuming foods that are rich in water too.
Applesauce - At the last Olympic games, 6,000 tubes of applesauce were distributed to the 750 U.S. Olympic athletes and 250 coaches as they boarded their flights to China.
Zucchini - With 95 percent water by weight, zucchini is one of the most hydrating vegetables you can eat and an excellent source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
Avoiding cramping - Leg cramps can cripple an athlete, so preventing them is essential to performing at peak potential. Choose salty foods or sodium-rich sports products before, during and after exercise. Prevent carbohydrate depletion by consuming carbohydrates before your workout and during your workout if it lasts longer than 60 minutes.
Nuts and dried fruit - Almonds are a great source of magnesium, and when combined with the potassium in dried fruit, these snacks can combat even the most intense cramping. Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson carries whole nut & fruit bars on her at all times to ward off cramps.
Bananas, raisins, and apricots - Bananas and dried fruits provide rich sources of potassium, combating mineral deficiencies that lead to cramping.
Calcium-rich foods including dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, collard, turnip and mustard greens as well as broccoli and dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese.
Super Spices such as basil, dill, cinnamon, thyme and oregano might also reduce your muscle spasms.
Making that final push - To get that final push of energy when crossing the finish line, loading up on carbohydrates is key - and sometimes even a burst of sugar can do the trick. We need about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour after the first hour of exercise.
Jelly beans - Many runners will pop a few of these in their mouths as they near the finish line for a surge of pure sugar that provides immediate energy.
Beet juice - Beetroot juice is intended to increase stamina by increasing the nitric acid in the body, which reduces the energy requirements of muscles. Olympic marathoner, Ryan Hall, found beetroot juice to be the solution to his chronic fatigue.
Other quick energy foods - Fig Newton's, mini bagels, and honey are all excellent sources of high performance carbohydrates.
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