During physical activity, there is no doubt that your muscles are doing the most to make sure you get to your finish line. Keeping your muscles ULTRA fueled before, during and after your physical activity may be the best way to fuel them for their hard work.
Not sure how to fuel them right? No worries! Here are 6 ULTRA fueling foods for your muscles (you can thank us later ;)):
ULTRA Fueling for Endurance Athletes
Before we jump into the big 6, it is important to remember that each athlete consumes the same nutrients in personalized amounts. Your body, the intensity and duration of your physical activity will determine what you will need to consume.
Endurance events lasting up to 2 hours usually rely on Carbohydrates(CHO)-based fuels to provide energy so your muscles can contract properly (2). This is from your muscle and liver glycogen, blood glucose and blood muscle. Meanwhile, endurance events lasting 2-10 hours, like an Ironman, will require CHO and fat-based fuels (2).
Athletes also retain more protein in their muscles than sedentary people, which means they can use more protein for fuel if their glycogen stores are depleted. Protein contributes to about 10% of total fuel used, both during activity and rest. Interestingly, endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners and cyclists, use more protein for fuel than strength or power athletes.
Take-away point: you need a mix of all macronutrients to fuel your body and muscles for optimum performance.
6 ULTRA Fueling Foods:
For a quick pick me up and an ULTRA fueling breakfast, oatmeal is a great choice. Oats are easy to make and are jam packed with fueling nutrients. They contain complex CHOs that have a slow glycemic index. This means they are slow to digest and can give you long lasting energy without a sugar crash. Their rich fiber content is great for satiety and can reduce cholesterol levels.
Be creative with your oatmeal bowl by adding a few ingredients to top off your palate and nutrient mix! Try some maple syrup, cubed apples and cinnamon. Alternatively, you can bake oatmeal cookies to bring on your next run for your hourly CHO replenishment.
2. Peanut Butter
The good old mix of fat, protein and fiber from peanut butter gives comfort and fuel. Your body breaks down peanut butter slower than simple sugars. This means you will get a slow and sustained release of energy.
Slapping a spoon of peanut butter on toast to make a PB&J is a classic snack before or to pack on your long runs. When you need the fast acting CHOs, you’ll get that from your slices of bread. But when you will definitely feel full and fueled from all the other nutrients to sustain you!
3. Hydration Mix
Staying hydrated is just as important as solid fuel with protein and CHOs. Enduring you are consuming enough fluids and electrolytes are key points to feeling ULTRA fueled. Your muscles need important electrolytes, like Potassium and Sodium, to contract properly.
Remember to try and drink even before your thirst cues kick in. We recommend drinking 0.5-1.0 L of fluids and 200mg of Sodium per hour, especially if you are training above 2 hours. Having a hydration mix every hour can replenish your fluids and electrolytes to keep you hydrated until the end of your activity.
4. Näak ULTRA Energy Bars
During your straining physical activity, your muscle glycogen stores are being used up. When sources are depleted, your body may shift to start breaking down amino acids to glucose to provide you energy (i.e gluconeogenesis). One way to prevent this is to ensure your body is breaking down dietary sources of glucose and protein/amino acids.
Refuel your body with one of our Näak ULTRA Energy Bars! With the ideal 4:1 CHO-Protein ratio, your body is treated with long sustained energy to keep your adventure going! These bars also contain either a blend of soy and pea plant-based protein or cricket-based protein; both sources of complete protein!
5. Energy Gels
Keeping your glycogen stores fueled throughout your session is a key sport nutrition point. This means during physical activity, you will need to consume CHOs. Aim for 30-60g of CHOs per hour, depending on your personal needs.
Energy gels are a great, quick option to get in those CHOs. Because your blood is primarily being pumped into your muscles to transport oxygen, less blood flow is directed to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This means you will need fast acting CHOs, in the form of simple sugars like glucose and fructose (together they make sucrose). When you are choosing an energy gel to ULTRA fuel you, choose the ones that contain simple sugars and at least 100mg of Sodium.
6. Cricket Powder
Research has shown that when you eat high-quality protein, either by itself or alongside CHO, your muscle protein synthesis will enhance. We have already covered eating high-quality protein with CHO (hint: our Naak ULTRA Energy Bars) during your physical activity. Now, let’s dive into recovery.
Crickets are considered a superfood because of their nutrient density. This means they contain all the goods, like all the 9 essential amino acids, that are essential for muscle recovery and growth in athletes (especially after straining training). They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, important B vitamins and iron. Vitamin B12 is particularly important to help your body produce red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body. Not to mention the prebiotic fiber, chitin, to fuel your microbiota and promote a healthy digestive and immune system.
Without proper protein intake, athletes can burn off their protein fuels they want to keep. Not sure how to incorporate cricket powder into your diet? Click here to find out how ;)