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Insider’s Viewpoint: Optimize Athletic Performance with Fruits & Veggies

 

February 4, 2014
 

From the weekend warrior to the triathlon athlete, all athletes benefit from eating fruits and vegetables. To optimize athletic performance and have a functional role in recovery following strenuous exercise, athletes of all ages need the variety of vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables that help maintain a strong and healthy body. When athletes do not get enough of these nutrients, it can lead to fatigue, muscle damage and impaired immune function. Another great benefit of fruits and vegetables is the high water content, which helps with hydration. So toss a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet each day to help maintain an active lifestyle!

 

The major source of fuel for active muscles is carbohydrates which get stored in the muscles as glycogen in the days before exercise. Because glucose is the preferred energy source for most exercise, a pre-exercise meal should include foods that are high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. This includes foods such as pasta, fruits, breads, energy bars and drinks.

 

Key Nutrients in Sports Nutrition

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Performance Related Function: Energy production and supply, nerve function, muscle contraction
Fruit and Vegetable Sources: Legumes, Cauliflower, Corn, Plums

 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Performance Related Function: Energy production and supply, nerve function, muscle contraction
Fruit and Vegetable Sources: Peach, Nectarines, Mushroom

 

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Performance Related Function: Energy production and supply, nerve function, muscle contraction
Fruit and Vegetable Sources: Brussel sprouts, Green peas, Beans, Split peas

 

Folate
Performance Related Function: Nervous function, muscle contraction, hemoglobin synthesis
Fruit and Vegetable Sources: Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, Beans, Avocado, Banana, Orange

 

Iron
Performance Related Function: Energy production and supply, hemoglobin synthesis, antioxidant function
Fruit and Vegetable Sources: Broccoli, Spinach, Dried fruit, Corn

 

Magnesium
Performance Related Function: Energy production and supply, nerve function, muscle contraction
Fruit and Vegetable Sources: Green vegetables, Legumes, Peas, Beans

 
 

Jennifer Egeland, MS, RND, LD
Dietitian and Natural Foods Buyer
Hen House Markets

 
 
 
 
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