Effects of Food Quality in Performance
Each time we sit down to eat, we make decisions that either support the digestive and immune system or don’t. We can either contribute to inflammation or have the opposite effect.
While these all sound like nutrition mumbo jumbo, these elements have a huge impact on your performance outside. Imagine trying to go on an intense day-long hike with gas pains and cramping. Or have a cold/cough on a ride at 10,000 ft.
Your performance is determined by the little choices you make every day, long before you hop in the car to head out on your adventure.
The Goals of Food Quality in Performance:
- Consistency – to perform consistently strong without cold or flu symptoms getting in the way.
- Feel Good – have a clear head, no digestive upsets, and strong muscles.
- Recovery Quickly – be able to get outside doing more of what you love more often.
What to Focus on:
- Supporting your digestive system (feel good and perform strong)
- Supporting your immune system (70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract!)
- Reducing inflammation (this will help you recover more quickly)
- Remove all foods you may be allergic or sensitive to – these can irritate your digestive system in the short term and weaken your immune system and cause inflammation in the long term.
- Get into homemade bone broth – broth made from bones contain gelatin and collagen, which helps build a strong gut lining and reduces digestive inflammation, as well as helps to repair muscle tissue.
- Eat fermented foods – fermented foods contain probiotics, which are good bacteria that help you digest your food better and out-compete any bad bacteria that may be trying to sneak in there.
- Avoid sugar – sugar can suppress your immune system cells that attack bacteria and viruses. Lay off the desserts, soda, etc.
- Focus on whole grains and legumes – refined carbohydrates break down quickly and act like sugar in your body.
- Limit dairy and alcohol – For the same reason as the point above. I know saying to give these up entirely may not be realistic, but I definitely want to encourage you to limit them. As talked about with refined carbs, foods that behave like sugar in your body are not always sweet.
- Eat high quality – you may have heard words like “toxic load” before with no explanation. Basically, eating a lot of pesticides can increase the toxic load in your body and contribute to inflammation (which means slow recovery post exercise) and a weakened immune system. So try to buy as many pesticide-free produce as you can. Also, the omega-3 content in grass-fed or pasture raised animal proteins are much higher than conventional. This also may be a buzz word you’ve heard before. Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory so important for the same reasons as above.
- Stay consistent – following these guidelines for a day or two leading up to a big trip is not going to produce the results you desire so integrate these steps into your lifestyle. Your habits at home will speak volumes to your results outside.