Apex Nutrition Boot Camp - Week 3

Week 3 – Beyond the Food: Supplements & Super Foods afor Athletes

Week 3 Contents (click to jump down):

Day 1:

Quote of the Week: Progress, NOT Perfection.

Or, another way  to put it: The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. – George F. Will

Yeah, that’s where it gets you. It’s not just that perfectionism is neutral…it can IMPEDE your progress. Don’t get so hung up on eating perfectly (spoiler alert: this is actually NOT a thing), fueling perfectly, or training perfectly. Instead, work on progress, day after day.

Are you making progress? Have you made any small changes the last 2 weeks that are helping your progress toward your goals? I hope so!

And this week, there’s room for more.

Today’s Tools:

First, just like training nutrition, if you’re gonna gain any benefit from supplements, you’re gonna have to trust that your body *needs* them. And yes, I believe that your body absolutely does.

Now, this is not to say that you’d waste away, not be able to train at all, never do well in a race, etc. I’m not talking life and death exactly.

But here’s what I am talking about.

When you look at the science and think through what you’re demanding of your body physiologically, your body simply needs more of the substrates, enzymes, catalysts, etc. to do all the extra biochemical reactions your asking of it.

Your body does more biochemical reactions than a sedentary human. A LOT more. It takes nutrients to make these happen, and you’ve got to replace them in order to not create deficiencies.

And sure, a healthy diet may replace them over time. But most athletes I work with are constantly training, and don’t want to wait until the off-season to feel good again and allow their bodies and diets to catch up. They can’t.

And here’s the kicker: Most endurance athletes do not (and cannot) eat in the abundance it would take to replace all these vitamins and minerals via food, and maintain the weight they want to maintain.

So, for the athlete, there is absolutely a need, and a place, for supplements. This week, I’ll help you weed through which supplements and why.

Second, it’s important to realize that not all supplements are about deficiencies in the body. As an introduction, here are the 3 categories we’ll cover:

  1. Supplements that contain vitamins and minerals to prevent/correct deficiencies.
  2. Supplements of nutrients that help your body feel great, age well, and function well (sort of food as preventative medicine).
  3. Supplements that contain nutrients that can serve as performance enhancers (allow these biochemical reactions to happen better, in real-time). We’ll cover these in Week 5.

In fact, by the end of the week you’ll have a full list and explanation of what nutrients, supplements, brands, etc I recommend and links of my favorite products.

Third,  here’s your Apex Supplement Plan! Download today and take a look:Apex Nutrition Athletes’ Everyday Health & Healthy Joints.

Supplement Plan for Daily Health & Healthy Joints – Apex Nutrition

 

Today’s Challenge:

After watching the video above, take a moment to think about what you’re putting your body through with training, racing, and adventuring.

Try to really grasp the biochemical reactions it must do with every breath and every step. We often think of exercise from the perspective of “how good it is for us.” And it is. Cardiovascularly, mentally, and physically.

But, we can easily push our bodies beyond this balance, to deficiency and fatigue, to breakdown and harm.

Don’t get all the way to “overtraining” and malnutrition. Don’t do it. Take the everyday nutrition, the training nutrition, and yes, even the supplementation needed seriously and give your body what it needs.

Ready?

Alright – that wraps up day one! We’ll get down to the specifics of supplements this week!

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

Day 2:

Quote of the Week: Progress, NOT Perfection.

Or, another way to put it: The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. – George F. Will

Today’s Tools:

First, we’ve got a plan. Hopefully, you’ve downloaded it and are digging in (if not, get it on Day 1).

Second, note the options I provide throughout the Supplement Plan for food in place of supplements. Whenever it’s possible, with most nutrients, I do think whole foods are the best route. Along with the nutrient you’re after, you’ll get others that both help the one nutrition metabolize better, and offer their own benefits.

For example, if you choose a high-quality yogurt for probiotics, you’ll also get calcium, Vitamin D and great protein (notice my emphasis on high quality). When it comes to yogurt, you can also make it – and it’s easier than you think! Check out my homemade 24-hour fermented yogurt recipe:

 


Or, watch it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Cgq6nkvYlSU

Third, also note that you cannot “out-supplement” a bad diet. Eating junk all day and adding a few pills won’t get your body to where you want it to be. One nutrient stands out in this area – often, people want to take a whole bunch of fish oil to reduce inflammation in their body, but it also takes reducing inflammatory fats in your diet (and you can’t do that with a supplement). To listen to my audio post on this subject (and get a recipe) AND reduce your inflammation (a big goal of supplements) check out this audio and post:

 

The Wrong Kind of Fats

Audio Player

 

Fourth, one of the greatest game-changing everyday nutrient supplements I’ve seen in my career working with athletes is magnesium. I’ve witnessed this mineral bring athletes back from the brink of “over-training” to feeling good again…they were simply deficient in magnesium. To hear more about it and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, listen in to my Apex Nutrition Podcast on Mountain Bike Radio:

Are you deficient in magnesium?

Today’s Challenge:

After looking at the list, are there any supplements (or foods) you’re not currently taking in which you may be deficient? If so, what are the reasons for not taking or eating them? I’ve done my best to keep my list short…and these are the supplements I’ve seen make the most difference. Of course, supplements are a personal choice. If you choose not to use them, fine. But, be aware of the risk of deficiency and do your best to get the nutrients your body needs one way or another.

Alright – that wraps up day two! Tomorrow, we’ll talk about performance-enhancing supplements/nutrients, and then superfoods & rabbit holes on Thursday.

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

Day 3:

Quote of the Week: Progress, NOT Perfection.

Or, another way  to put it: The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. – George F. Will

SUPERFOODS – Today’s Tools:

First, think back to Week 1 and your Apex Nutrition Daily Meal Plan. Hopefully, you’ll see how today’s SUPERFOODS can fit into everyday eating, rather than seeming extravagant, expensive & unrealistic.

Second, please hear me on this: While many foods benefit your health, the term “Super Food” was originally intended to mean a food that offers nutrients or benefits beyond the typical macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) we see defined on food labels and in publications.

These typical nutrients generally provided calories and helped us avoid deficiencies. The more foods are studied, though, the more we’ve found that real, from-the-Earth foods often have nutrients beyond these – ones that help our cells fight, reduce risk of cancer, detox, proliferate and grow stronger, and more.

They’re not well defined. They are also not easily isolated and often have to work within their natural whole-food realm to offer their full benefits – so, you’re generally not gonna get these added benefits from a pill. This is all I’m conveying when I say superfood.

Now, of course, when there’s money involved, things get a little hairy. The food industry caught onto the term Super Food and made it into pure marketing. So, when you see someone trying to sell you a food product and calling it a super food, really check it out to see what they mean. If they convey that you can only get these benefits from this one food, they’re wrong. Lots of foods are great for you. There’s no one-magic food that you need. Super or not.

More on my opinion of this? Check out my post or podcast on Mountain Bike Radio on the subject:

Post: Are Super Foods Super Fake?

Third, with the above understood, there are foods that do special things in your body. Without question. Here’s my list to try to get in every day, or even every meal.

And yes, you’ll see them on your meal plan, or easily added:

Vegetables – I know, this seems like a broad-category cop out. But it’s the truth. I’m hard pressed to think of one non-starchy salad-type vegetable, or even some starchy like yams, that doesn’t do amazing things in your body beyond give you calories and help you avoid vitamin/mineral deficiencies. Raw, cooked, fresh or frozen. Vegetables offer so many good things for our bodies. On the one hand they offer phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and all sorts of not well defined nutrients that are linked to cancer prevention, reductions and heart disease, and overall wellness. And on the other hand, they are great tool in helping us control portions of other more calorie dense foods. I recommend a good four servings of vegetables per day, with optional additional fruit. Try smoothies, soups, stir-fries, and salad. Or, carrot fries. Or avocado-cabbage in tacos that will change your life. Just an idea.

  • Daily: I recommend 4 servings per day (Each serving is 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup cooked). Easy to accomplish is you include a serving at one snack, at lunch, and then follow “light at night” with 1/2 a plate of veggies at dinner.
  • Weekly: Several times per week, include vegetables that offer cellular detox – sound crazy: Check out this post on a 1-2-3 Detox Punch!
  • Avoid: I recommend avoiding frozen ones with extra ingredients. I’ve seen everything from soybean oil to hydrogenated oils to colorings, sugars, and sauces in these chemical-laden “vegetables.” Frozen is fine when it only contains the vegetable.

FruitsBasically, most all fruits have amazing-for-you nutrients, from phytochemicals to antioxidants and beyond. They are similar in nutrition to vegetables EXCEPT that they also contain carbs and sugars. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, keep these to just 1-2 servings per day. And, if you hear that there’s an amazing super-berry that you cannot live without, don’t fall for it. Again, I’m sure the super berry is great, but again, there’s no one-magic food – many are good!

Probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) and long-fermented High Probiotic Yogurt. As you know, the health of our gut is of primary importance to the health of our overall bodies. We need to fortify our guts and the healthy bacteria that live there any chance we get. In fact, I wrote a full article for Training Conditioning magazine about all the benefits of probiotics for athletes in 2015. And since this writing, more research has been presented with more probiotic benefit for athletes, including better fracture healing of all things! I recommend a high probiotic food or supplement every day. Try yogurt, Kiefer, Kombucha, and more! If choosing a probiotic supplement, go for 8+ strains and 5+ billion cfu, making sure to note if it should be refrigerated or not. We’ve covered probiotics in supplements above, but they are so good for you they belong here, too.

  • Caution: Watch out for sugar-laden, low-protein, conventional yogurts. Instead, look for plain Greek yogurt and add your own superfoods to it.

Omega-3 fats. The value of omega-3 fats lies in how they affect the hormones in our bodies to promote or reduce inflammation in a systemic manner. They compete with omega-6 fats to push our bodies towards more or less inflammatory processes. One of the central issues of overall health in the modern age is that our bodies are flooded with omega six fats from natural foods and more significantly, processed foods. Cheap, omega-6 oils are used in most every highly processed food that comes in a box bottle or bag.  Therefore, it is important to not only proactively consume omega-3s, especially those from marine sources while decreasing consumption of omega six fats.

And consider this, you can get some of your omega-3s via plant foods, but I recommend fish as well. Seeds like hemp seeds and chia seeds are protein power-houses with omega3s to boot. Here’s one of my favorite recipes – and it contains them both: 

Thursday’s Healthy Fuel Recipe: Overnight Slow-Cooker Protein Oatmeal

 

  • Daily: Omega-3 foods such as fish, algae, flax, chia, hemp, etc. or a supplement. Twice per week, fatty, wild fish if possible.
  • Avoid: Omega3/6/9 Supplements, High omega-6 ingredients like soybean oil (see full write-up here).

Garlic: Garlic is an amazing food – it offers cardiovascular protection, antibacterial and anti-viral benefits, and even contains nutrients that offer cancer protection – pile it on! Here’s more info, and why raw is even better when it comes to garlic (I eat garlic every day – I add these whole cloves to my salad or cooked vegetables…):

Spices (in addition to Turmeric & Ginger): Cinnamon & Black Pepper & Chilis (3 easy ones): Basically, you’re safe in terms of nutrition when you add spices. They are incredible. And often, spices are abundant in pantries…just setting there waiting for you to use them. To find out more about each of the ones listed above, click on the links. Generally, spices offer antioxidants, nutrients that support hormone balance, and even ones that can boost metabolism (we’ll cover this thoroughly in a week to come).  

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): Alright, a bit of folk medicine here concerning an amazing food. Raw apple cider vinegar has been touted as a cure-all for many things (including joint pain) – and in my own experience, it does 2 things very well: 1) It drains sinuses and reduces sinus infections, and it 2) reduces leg cramps including those experienced in training or overnight sleeping. In studies, it has actually been shown to improve cholesterol profiles & waist circumference. Intrigued? Yes, please! Read more in my post or listen to my podcast below. Warning – never drink undiluted – follow the instructions in the post & recipe!

Post – Apple Cider Vinegar

Podcast – Apple Cider Vinegar

Cacao: If ever there was a true super food…this is it. More antioxidants than the most-touted fruits and vegetables, the simple cocoa bean can do a lot in the body…if it’s raw & organic. Raw cocoa contains dietary polyphenols.  These antioxidants reduce inflammation and make cells more sensitive to insulin.  Both of these factors are super-important to the athlete. What’s more, cocoa is a decent source of magnesium. And, we all know I love some good magnesium. So how do I fit in raw cocoa each day. I recover or drink raw cocoa chocolate milk every day (yes, I’m super deprived). It’s usually as a snack. And, no matter if you are dairy free or use dairy, you can make this 3-ingredient recipe:

Speaking of drinks, there are a few SUPERFOOD drinks. But, I’m going to save those for next week’s hydration topic. I think we’ve covered plenty today!

Today’s Challenge: If it’s not clear by now, let me say it again: Super Foods are not in “a product,” but are in a plethora of natural foods. And, they’re not necessarily extravagant – many are likely already in your kitchen!

Today, I challenge you to include a Super Food listed above, or similar amazing fruit, vegetables, fermented food, omega-3 fat, spice, or seed in EVERY MEAL.

This stretches me, too. But it’s absolutely possible. Fresh cracked pepper on a whole-food breakfast; hempseeds & berries over yogurt; carrots & hummus for a snack; smoothies with added basil, cinnamon, and ginger; dinners with loads of vegetables and healthy fats.

When you truly cook and plan meals with single-ingredient whole foods rather than boxed, bottled, and packaged, you find a whole world of Super Foods waiting to be eaten. Some cost more than others. Some are more easily accessible. None are your only choice for health.

Every meal. At least one Super Food to “supplement” your other foods.

What do ya got when there’s 1 Super Food in every meal and <=4 processed foods per day?

One heck of a daily nutrition plan to set the foundation for health alongside Training Nutrition & Supplements.

You’ve got this.

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

Day 4:

Quote of the Week: Progress, NOT Perfection.

Or, another way  to put it: The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. – George F. Will

Today’s Tools:

Let’s keep supplements in their place. They are only supplemental. They can never replace a good diet. And, in the absence adequate calories, protein, and overall nutrition, they cannot possibly function fully (as vitamins and minerals do not provide energy – or calories – but only make your body *use* it better).

Since these last 3 weeks may have felt like a bit of a freight train of nutrition information, let’s  discuss how to make supplements and superfoods fit within the entirety of nutrition before moving on.

First, go back and take a look at your meal plan. I HOPE you are already putting it into practice. If not…if it felt at all overwhelming and like too much initial work, I invite you to view this video and get started. This is the single-most important tool I can give you towards your overall nutrition goals, weight goals, and athletic performance.

 


Or, click here: https://youtu.be/DvKDC2U5AJg
Second, review your training nutrition plan. This is only meant for the times when your body is in an active state for more than 90 minutes (unless high intensity). It should help you *add* to the meal plan by only giving your body the extra nutrition it needs when it needs it.

 

Third, if you’d like the chance to sort of review most everything in a “class lecture” type setting, I have an entire youtube video for you to put it all together. It does touch on next week’s topic, hydration, and week 5’s, performance-enhancing nutrition, but that’s okay. We’re just about half-way through this boot camp, and it’s a great time to review and preview what’s coming up. This is a full lecture class, about 1-hour long. (PLEASE DON’T SHARE THE LINK).

 

 


Or, click here: https://youtu.be/FXA8J5J-yzw
 

 

Today’s Challenges:

We’re just about t the half-way mark.

Take today to review what you need to review, start/continue to put the meal plan into action, and use training nutrition when needed.

Then, the supplements can do their jobs.

Lastly, don’t forget that I’m on the Forum tomorrow, so get your questions ready!

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)

 

Day 5:

Quote of the Week: Progress, NOT Perfection.

Today’s Tools:

Another week with a lot of content. Let’s catch our breath and review today. Here are the highlights – I’ve left all the content available on this one page, each day, so you can go back and catch up if you need to.

Day 1: Your body does an amazing amount of work each day…lots and lots of biochemical reactions in each system! And when you train, you demand EVEN MORE from it. Athletes *often* become deficient in specific nutrients, and this can lead to full-blown fall-out. Take these nutrients and supplements seriously…they are often an important, healthy, and over-looked (or even resisted) easy fix to what ails athletes.

Day 2: My short list of every day supplements. Which to buy and why.

Day 3: Of course, (super)foods are the ultimate go-to for extra nourishment. A list of amazing, accessible foods that go beyond everyday nourishment to offer your body more.

Day 4: Don’t rely on supplements and superfoods. Do the hard work of setting the foundation of daily eating and adding training nutrition. Then, extra nutrients from amazing foods and supplements will do their job and help you feel amazing!

Lastly, don’t forget that I’m on the Forum today, so get your questions ready!

This week’s challenges:

This week didn’t take a lot of emotional commitment (like a whole meal plan can), so they are pretty simple. Here’s some action steps from Week 3:

Review and continue to form habits for daily nutrition & training nutrition.

If you have the time, watch the video class from Day 4.

Decide which daily supplements you want to include…buy them and start.

Start making superfoods a big part of your meal planning – 1 super food at every meal.

That wraps up this week! I hope you’re hanging in here tough with me. I know each day and each week is a lot of content & challenges…again, nutrition is simple, but not always easy. Do your best to have a big-picture mentality and enjoy the details added along the way. Next week, we’re gonna tackle a HUGE one for athletes – hydration. And yes, it involves super foods. This week, remember, PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.

(Click here to head back to the Boot Camp HOMEPAGE)