Countless times a week, “Coach, whats a good, quick snack to eat before my workout?”
In todays world they’re are numerous supplemental “pre-workouts” on the market. So which one is right for you? Don’t feel pressured by shiny labels and mis-educated salespeople trying to make a buck at your expense. Now I’m not saying all these powdery substances are bad, is their a better way to obtain the benefits? perhaps. Is there a healthier way to retain the reward that these supplements produce? DEFINITELY. Educate yourself on these products before you buy blind.
Most people do not realize that very few products/supplements are FDA approved or any sort of banned substance free tested. While pre workout supplements are often effective, research has proven that none have been more or equal to as effective as naturally obtaining nutrients and the benefits from food. When picking a pre workout snack, try to consume something that will help increase “VASODILATION”.
But first… What is vasodilation?
Web MD defines vasodilation as…
Vasodilation: Widening of blood vessels that results from relaxation of the muscular walls of the vessels. What widens in vasodilation is actually the diameter of the interior (lumen) of the vessel.
Also meaning, widening the walls of the vessels to allow for more oxygen rich blood and nutrient dense cells to be pumped through the body, ultimately allowing for a better performance.
What will vasodilation do to me?
Increasing blood flow to working muscle groups through increased vasodilation has the potential to increase work capacity during both aerobic and anaerobic performance.
What foods will help naturally increase vasodilation in you?
Foods high in Nitrates
What foods contain Nitrates?
Vegetables such as dark leafy greens, Beets, collard greens, lettuce, beets, carrots, green beans, spinach, parsley, cabbage, radishes, celery etc. Further, the longer fresh vegetable juice sits, the greater the conversion of nitrates to nitrites, so you should drink fresh vegetable juice as quickly as you can.
Beetroots are extremely high in anion, and nitrates, which is concentrated in the saliva and absorbed by the gut. Nitrate is converted to nitrite in your body almost immediately by bacteria on your tongue. As long as the nitrite is not converted to large amounts of harmful nitrosamines in your stomach, nitrite eventually becomes nitric oxide in your blood, which can relax your blood vessels.
How will the role of nitric oxide (derived from nitrates) enhance my performance
Increasing N.O. can be beneficial for individuals due to its role in regulating blood flow, neurotransmission, immune function, blood sugar regulation, calcium regulation and muscle contraction. Potentially, there could be additional for athletes and people whom perform regularly, as it may help to increase oxygen in contracting muscles decrease adenosine triphosphate (ATP, a form of energy) cost during exercise, increase tolerance to long term high intensity exercise and time to exhaustion.
When should I eat these foods?
These meals/ items are a great anytime snack, however to help enhance your workout 2 hours for maximum absorption and studies have shown even up to 30 minutes prior of your workout is in an ideal window to consume to allow maximum absorption of nutrients and energy from the goods. Consuming these nitrate rich foods just prior to high intensity exercise may help by increasing a workout by increasing the amount of time before lactic acid builds up. Note to self that everyone is different, trial and error is the best way to test results for yourself.
Also to help energize yourself for the day, these antioxidant rich foods are a great way to kick start your day and give you the fuel you need to last through those long hours of the day.
What if I don’t eat them?
Now not to say that not eating these foods will negatively affect your workout, however certainly eating them will positively affect your workout.
Try these quick drink recipes for an even quicker energy and performance boost!
Quick Drink Recipes
Beet & Berry Smoothie
2 tbsp beet-juice
1 cup berries, of your choice
¼ cup orange juice, fresh is best
½ cup almond milk
Ice as needed
Blend in your blender until smooth and enjoy!
The “Beet IT” Smoothie
1 tbsp beet-juice
½ cup yogurt, vanilla
1 tbsp honey
Ice as needed
NSCA: Journal Quarterly PTQ, Vol.1 Iss. 1
Debra Wein, Kelly Murphy
Beetroot Juice Supplementation and exercise