From post-workout recovery, to immunity, to mood, what we do (and do not) consume in our diet plays a huge role in our overall health and performance. Most think of Vitamin C as an immune booster, but are you aware of its role in muscle and tissue repair after workouts? Many question their training when they see slower times during races and workouts, but do they consider a deficiency in B vitamins that could be impairing red blood cell formation?
Our society has taught us that doing more, pushing harder, and resting less is the admirable approach to life, but when it comes to performance in endurance sport, reaching our best requires a much more mindful approach. The reality is, with a few reasonable lifestyle changes, most people can feel exponentially more energetic, upbeat, and motivated to train.
An important step toward optimizing nutrition and performance is knowing which nutrients we need a steady, daily supply of, versus those we can eat more intermittently throughout the week. Here’s a quick look at the difference between the two.
The Daily: Vitamin C, the B-Complex, and the 9 essential Amino Acids
Vitamin C and B-Complex vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they bond to the water inside our bloodstream. When consumed in excess, our body excretes what isn’t needed through the urine. In other words, we cannot store these particular vitamins, therefore our body needs a steady supply from our diet. Deficiencies in the B-complex vitamins are especially prevalent in vegetarian athletes—since animal products are the richest source of B vitamins—as well as those experiencing chronic stress, since B vitamins play a big role in regulating our body’s response to stress.
Also included on the The Daily list are the nine essential amino acids, aka: the building blocks of proteins. Our body cannot synthesize these nine amino acids on its own, they must come from our diet. Deficiencies can result in fatigue, slow recovery post-workout, loss of muscle mass, and even an inability to respond and adapt to training at all. Food sources rich in B vitamins and the essential amino acids are lean meats, fish, dairy, eggs and cheese.
The Storables: Vitamins A, D, E, and K
Vitamins A, D, E, and K, on the other hand, are fat-soluble, so they can be stored in our fat and liver cells and dispensed into or bloodstream when we need them. This is not to say that we don’t still have to work hard to ensure we’re getting an adequate supply of these vitamins, but it does mean we can think more in terms of weekly, rather than daily, intake. The storable nature of these vitamins also means they can be toxic when consumed in high quantities, so be mindful when it comes to supplementation.
What happens if we don’t have enough healthy fats in our diet? The body will then struggle to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important to include adequate amounts of healthy dietary fats from fish, pasture-raised dairy products, eggs and healthy (non-industrial) oils.
You wouldn’t ask your car to function without fuel or oil, would you? Show the same level of care for your body. Doing so will improve every element of your health and performance.