By Laurel House, Planet Green
Sure, there are tons of energy drinks out there promising to boost your endurance, quicken your pace, and keep you on point for anything — test taking or race. But really… do you want to soup up your body with chemicals and questionable ingredients that you can’t pronounce, have zero idea what they are, and may have actually read about on the “do not consume” list? I didn’t think so.
Thankfully there are tons of Bites with Benefits foods that really do benefit your body… naturally. But when it comes to athletes, there are certain expectations around what’s beneficial and what’s not. Your mind automatically goes to protein shakes, egg whites, sports drinks. But here are some out of the ordinary alternatives that runners swear by:
Beet Juice! No, not Beetle Juice. Beet juice is what one marathon runner swore got him through a 24-hour event. Two studies found that bicyclists who drank the purple potion before an event rode 20 percent more than those just given a placebo. Basically this beneficial beverage lets your muscles take it easy. The nitric acid makes it so your muscles don’t need to exert as much energy while working, which greatly increases stamina.
This next one isn’t only for Iron Man marathons in Hawaii. I’m talking about Coconut Water. This foggy refresher embodies the perfect balance of muscle-supporting potassium and sodium that commercial sports beverages aim for, but without that sugary, highly processed taste.
SALTED POTATOES and RICE BALLS
One sports dietitian advocates baking fingerling potatoes, salting them, and wrapping them up to stuff in your pockets. This way they are easily accessible every 30 minutes or so when your energy depletes. This same carb/sodium combination can be found in small rice balls. Cook sticky rice, add soy sauce, and form small balls to also pocket for a workout.
Make a stop at the candy shop before a run. Here’s one that will completely go against your idea of nutritious, energizing food… hard candy! One sports nutritionist advocates sucking on hard candy during a long workout. The fast-acting source of glucose will keep your energy up.
TART CHERRY JUICE
Pucker up! I’m not talking about kissing your loved ones before a marathon (although, do that too!) I just mean that when you drink Tart Cherry Juice, you won’t be able to stop yourself from making a funny face. But researchers suggest the antioxidants found in Tart Cherry Juice reduce the production of enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.
A marathon-master and Anesthesiologist rave about pickle juice for its ability to reduce pain. And let’s face it; a man in that profession knows a thing or two about turning down the torture! He reported that his muscle knots virtually disappeared after incorporating pickle juice into his workout prep. Scientists suggest this could be because pickle juice replaces the sodium and fluid lost through sweat, and that the acidity of the vinegar conquers the cramps.
Sports drinks only WISH they were chocolate milk! It contains protein to repair muscles post workout, carbs to re-fuel, and fluids to replace the sweat you lose during a workout. Another part of this sweet deal is sodium, potassium and magnesium—crucial for strenuous activity—as well as the Vitamin D for healthy bones. What’s NOT to love?!