Everyday "Superfoods" For Young Athletes & Adolescents
At The Academy, one of our pet peeves is dietary advice that makes healthy eating seem unnecessarily complex. The story told goes a little something like this, to be truly healthy, eating requires excessive time in preparation alongside expensive "superfood" ingredients. This can make a task as primal as eating seem confusing, overwhelming, and ultimately, a healthy lifestyle feels unattainable. What if we told you, you've been sold a lie and that you probably have "superfoods" lurking in your pantry and fridge right now?
Today, we look at five everyday foods that miss out on the "superfood" label but can play a starring role in a healthy diet, sans fancy preparation techniques and hefty price tags.
Naturally containing fluid and electrolytes for hydration, and protein to support muscle recovery and growth. With the addition of sugar to replenish glycogen stores, milk is hands down our favourite means of achieving post-workout nutrition goals.
Additionally, as a rich source of calcium, milk and other dairy products play a vital role in the bone health of young athletes. Beyond the age of 30 our body switches from a state of bone growth to progressive weakening. Due to this expiry date on our ability to build strong bones, our youth is an incredibly important time to maximise our bone strength for later life. As an added bonus, strong bones means less likelihood of fractures and stress fractures to prevent being sidelined from sport.
Here, we begin with the concept of biological value which tells us about the ease with which we can use the protein from food to synthesise proteins in the body. With this in mind, as the highest biological value protein source, eggs are an athlete's muscle building essential.
Perhaps what we love most about eggs is the versatility in their preparation making them the perfect protein choice at breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, before you go making an egg white omelette, consider that coupled with the protein hit of the white, the yolk packs a nutritional punch, and contains 11 health promoting vitamins and minerals.
Found most abundantly in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, omega-3 fats are have been embraced for their effects in promoting heart and mental health, as well as having an anti-inflammatory role. However, you needn't spend precious time preparing or pay the premium price for fresh fish, as tinned tuna is just as good a source with the added bonus of being ready-to-eat.
Truthfully, you don't need to drop your hard earned cash on kale, as all vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals and can be considered superfoods in their own right. We could talk about the vitamin A in carrots actually helping you to see in the dark, or the nitrates in beetroot benefitting endurance performance. However, to reap all the benefits offered by vegetables, your best bet is not to focus on one vegetable, but to aim for at least 5 serves a day through a variety of different vegetables.
Lately, the media has been giving carbohydrate-rich foods have been given a hard time. However, when it comes to health, not all carbohydrates are equal. While yes, we should be minimising refined sources of carbohydrate, intact and minimally processed grains offer the benefits of fibre, minerals and phytochemicals. Time and time again the research comes back to the health benefits of wholegrains in promoting bowel health and preventing long-term health conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Best of all, you need not shell out the money for quinoa, teff, amaranth or other trendy grains, as there is great benefit in using oats, and wholemeal and wholegrain varieties of bread, cereal, pasta and rice
Of course, there are plenty more everyday superfoods that didn't make our cut. The point is, you don't have to spend excessive amounts of time or money to achieve a healthy diet. In fact, at The Academy, we believe in applying a simple, no fuss approach to nutrition to create lifelong healthy eating habits and support the sporting performance of our young athletes.