If you’re an athlete or runner or simply an active person, chances are you need a little extra get-up-and-go in your diet to support your active lifestyle and rockin’ body. For anyone serious about their health and performance, emphasizing the overall importance of nutrition leads to excellence.
In recent years, athletes have been bombarded with information pertaining to the best ingredients that support a lean body: whey powder, protein shakes and even Muscle Milk. However, these foods and beverages aren’t as “clean” as they seem. While some animal-based foods contain very inflammatory sources of fats and proteins, plant-based drinks with high protein content can contain heavily processed ingredients such as protein extracts, which may contain toxic chemicals based on a report by Harvard Medical School in April 2020.
What’s more important for individuals who live an active lifestyle is paying attention to the source of the nutrition rather than the benefits of each individual nutrient. When you think about it, the food we eat is what we end up becoming. Food is just language that speaks to our bodies’ cells. Cells are pathways of communication that control everything from our metabolism to our brain function. Through millions of years of evolution, human cells have not been exposed to processed food ingredients until very recently, much less than a century. It’s unfortunate, yet not surprising that processed foods cause all kinds of health problems, from food allergies to serious diseases including diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
For active individuals like athletes or runners, high-quality sources of nutrition are needed. What aren’t needed are inflammatory foods or foods with high amounts of cholesterol, saturated fats, sugars, toxins and contaminants from processed ingredients. For example, protein blends are so highly processed; we can’t determine what actually takes place during production. Runners with an active lifestyle need specific amounts of carbs, fats and protein to thrive, nutritionally speaking. These macro-nutrients should come from clean, plant-based foods and should be eaten at each meal. This balance will provide your body with fuel for performance and speed up recovery, muscle growth and repair. It will also prevent any nutritional shortages that can hinder performance. You can use the charts below as guides to calorie consumption and key nutrient ratios for your gender and age.