Brought to you by Biostar-One of the great ironies of competition is that most show grounds provide good footing, good stabling, good show management, very often have less than nutritious food for the riders, grooms, owners, and spectators. The typical show ground fare of hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, and soft drinks with maybe a wilted salad offering may delight our taste buds but do not support the health, vitality, and energy we need to compete. The breakfast offering of egg with bacon sandwiches complete with some melted Cheese Whiz prototype may not exactly be the breakfast of champions. What we eat before and after competition can play a huge role in rider stamina, and recovery.
Glucose is the preferred energy source for human athletes, as carbohydrates are stored in the muscles as glycogen. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap because they can affect weight gain, so the kind of carbohydrates you eat is very important. Fruits are always a good choice as they provide fiber and phytonutrients. If you are not gluten intolerant, certain breads and pastas are also good choices. One of the best breads for athletes is Ezekial bread, which is a sprouted grain bread. 1 slice provides 4 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of fat. A good choice for pasta is Jerusalem artichoke pasta. Energy bars are another choice, but make sure the bar you choose is free of high fructose corn syrup and is soy free.
One Hour Before Competition:
• Choose fresh fruit such as apples, watermelon, peaches, grapes or oranges
• Hydrate with water, not coffee or soft drinks
Two to Three Hours Before Competition:
Fresh fruit: papaya, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, figs, dates, grapes, blueberries
Ezekial bread or bagel or pasta
Yoghurt or Kefir
A caffeine choice: coffee, or tea, or dark chocolate to feed the brain
What To Avoid:
Foods with a lot of fat or fiber can be slow to digest and remain in the stomach for a long time. Meats, doughnuts, fries, potato chips, and candy bars should be avoided in a pre-exercise meal.
Post Exercise Food:
Within 15 minutes of post exercise it is important to restore glycogen to the muscles. A piece of fruit and or some fruit juice will help the glycogen muscle balance. Re-hydrate with water.
A recent study showed that the carbohydrate to protein ratio in post recovery should be 4:1 (four grams of carbohydrate to one gram of protein). Eating too much protein during the recovery period has a negative impact because it slows rehydration and glycogen replenishment.
Eating raw foods such as fruits and uncooked vegetables, sprouted grains, and legume sprouts such as alfalfa or mung beans provide food enzymes, which help pre-digest the food thus lessening the stress on the pancreas to produce more digestive enzymes.nThese food enzymes themselves include proteases for digesting protein, lipases for digesting fats, and amylases for digesting carbohydrates. Raw foods with their enzyme-loaded nutrition reduce stress on the GI tract. Remember when food is cooked above 118 degrees for three minutes or longer, it’s proteins become denatured, it’s sugar has become caramelized, the natural fibers have broken down, over 80% of the nutrients have been damaged, and nearly all the enzymes have been destroyed.
Fermented foods such as yogurt, raw cheeses, kefir, miso, pickles and sauerkraut also provide an availability of enzymes because the fermentation process does not inhibit or kill the naturally occurring enzymes.
Ideally, seek to have 30% of your food intake be from raw foods. Typically athletes like marathon runners achieve a 60% raw food diet.
The Good News About Coffee and Chocolate and Red Wine:
- Coffee beans are loaded with polyphenols and in some studies have shown these compounds to be associated with a lower incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
- Chocolate is another source of antioxidants (particularly the flavonoids). The darker the chocolate the greater the flavonoid content. Milk chocolate has the lowest amount of flavonoids.
- Red wine provides small amounts of an important antioxidant called Reserveratrol, that can lower the impact of bad cholesterol, which in turn can reduce cardiovascular disease.
Whole Foods for On the Go:
Nuts and seeds provide beneficial polyunsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, as well as major minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamins A and E and even in the case of sunflower seeds a plant source of vitamin D. While not recommended as a pre-ride snack due to the high fat and protein, nuts and seeds are terrific whole foods as snacks on the go, and before dinner. The fat and protein content help fill the stomach, thus reducing the possibility of over-eating at dinner.
Home Made Trail Mix:
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup goji berries or dried cherries or raisins
½ cup chopped pecans and or cashews
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup shredded coconut or coconut flakes*
½ cup organic dark chocolate nibs
¼ cup sesame seeds and or sunflower seeds
¼ cup hemp seed nuts
¼ cup chia seeds
* shredded coconut or coconut flakes found at grocery stores are typically over-processed and bleached. Look for coconut from minimally processed sources like TropicalTraditions.com
So pack your cooler with the foods that will support your performance, reduce fatigue, and support your own body’s vitality and well-being.