As a sports dietitian, I am all about educating and empowering my clients to strategize their food and fluid choices to optimize sports performance, realize their goals and put together a powerful fuel kit. When we talk about what is in that fuel kit, fruits and veggies are at the top of the list. Whether I am working with a professional football player wanting advice on eating to decrease inflammation or active clients looking to fuel up, produce can help meet the need to succeed. Here we go produce, here we go! Why not a #haveaplant chant?
Exercise is great but can result in increased muscle soreness. To tame the pain and prevent performance drains, anti-inflammatory foods such as beets, pomegranate, berries, watermelon and pineapple to the rescue. Why? They contain substances that can increase blood flow and suppress the enzymes that cause inflammation. Here are a few ideas to reduce that muscle soreness:
- A beet and ricotta or burrata salad
- A watermelon pizza topped with yogurt
- Watermelon, cucumber and feta salad
- A bowl of berries, pineapple and grapes
- Create a #soothiesmoothie
For those trying to optimize body composition (lose body fat and preserve muscle mass), veggies are a great add-in. Veggies bring the chew, the flavor, the fiber, the fluid and can increase the volume on the plate so you’ll stay fuller longer. Lighten up and brighten up the plate with the veggie flavor to savor. I recommend that those looking to decrease body fat aim for ½ of the plate as fruit and veggies. Here’s a few ways to do so:
- A beautiful roasted veggie platter
- A spinach salad with berries
- A savory chickpea and celery salad
- A salad of edamame, corn and peppers
We can’t forget about protein. I am a big bean fan, either dried or in the can. They are a great source of fiber, provide protein and can quickly and effortlessly enhance recipes. Greens and beans is a family favorite and can be a main course or a tasty side. Another great option protein and produce pairing option could be a ricotta board! Made with whipped ricotta, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning topped with sliced grape tomatoes, chopped yellow pepper and pesto – yum!
To make the most of what you eat, adding in more produce can help you do more, be less sore and score with your health for your best nourished self. #producetoperform