Athlete Super Foods!

These are just some of the many beneficial foods that help aid in overall performance, immune health and recovery for athletes.  

Sweet potatoes - A great starchy vegetable, loaded with carbohydrate your body and brain’s favorite energy source. High in anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, vitamins C and E are all helpful in combating free radical damage that occurs during exercise and aids in muscle  recovery. High in iron, that is vital in oxygen transport to the muscles.

• Bake whole like a baked potato, when cooked squeeze lime juice on it  

• Cut into squares and roast with olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper 

Beetroot Juice - Rich in naturally occurring nitrate, which is synthesized in the body to Nitric  Oxide (NO). NO relaxes blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and enhancing oxygen distribution in the muscle tissue. Resulting in a higher energy output with the same or less VO2 max. 

Recommended dosing:  

• 500ml/16oz. of Beet root juice, 2½ - 2 hours prior to training session 

• Consume 500ml/16oz. daily 6 days prior to race/event 

Cherries (tart) - High in vitamin C, Beta-­‐carotene, iron, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. The antioxidants anthocyanin 1 and 2 reduce post exercise inflammation, making it ideal for recovery nutrition.  Containing 17 different antioxidants  (more  than  blueberries!), tart cherries are a great addition to any daily diet. 

• ½ cup of tart cherry juice   

• ¼ dried cherries 

• 1 cup of fresh cherries 

For recovery nutrition (4:1 carbohydrate: protein): 10-oz glass of tart cherry juice,  ½ scoop whey protein (10-12 grams protein).

Keifer - Contains calcium, supporting bone health and an integral electrolyte for muscle function. High in probiotics, aiding in immune system health and a good source of protein (branched chain amino acids responsible for muscle tissue repair and synthesis) and is high in phosphorus, vitamin B12, thiamin, vitamin K, vitamin D. Great for recovery  nutrition-8oz.  is  recommended. 

a. 4-6oz. per day for immune health and a healthy digestive system 

Lean proteins - fish (2-3x’s/week for the omega-3 benefit), skinless poultry, lean beef  (1x /week), lean cuts of pork, and eggs 

• A good source of protein (branched chain amino acids), iron and vitamin B12 

Legumes,  dried  beans - high protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium 


Melissa A. Mathes, MPH, RD, CSSD

*Information provided from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month Campaign

Alex Goldenring