If summertime for you means getting outside and working those muscles-be it on a mountain bike, in a kayak or just hitting the trails-it's a good idea to make sure you're loading up on the right nutrients before and afterwards. We spoke with Winnie Bordelon, herbalist at our South Boulder store, about good practices in good exercise nutrition.
In general, Winnie says, you'll have better endurance and overall good health if you eat a high-protein diet that's filled with fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains. Then add in the essential fatty acids from fish and flax oils to improve stamina and encourage faster muscle recovery. Winnie likes Udo's oils, many of which include a full spectrum of omegas.
Another stamina-booster: medicinal mushrooms like Fungi Perfecti's Cordyceps. "They're great for increasing lung stamina," says Winnie. That's especially important, she adds, for high-altitude activities. Cordyceps are most effective at aiding in oxygen uptake when taken on an ongoing basis.
Before your workout
"Take something to keep you hydrated," says Winnie. She likes electrolyte-infused products like Ultima Replenisher or Alacer's ElectroMix. In addition, she says, "ElectroMix has a lot of potassium, which can help ward off muscle cramps."
"If you're really looking to build up your endurance, try the Vega Sport drinks," says Winnie. "They're intended to be used before exercise to give you immediate sustained energy. It's a pretty complete sport booster." (Bonus: Vega is also vegan.) All three products can be easily mixed with water.
Another tip from Winnie: If you need a lot of protein to keep you going, try and get it before you start your workout instead of having to stop mid-bike ride to refuel. "Your muscles are taking the glucose directly from the bloodstream to build muscle," Winnie says. "So you'll use up that energy and sugar during your workout."
After your workout
First off, Winnie encourages people to stay away from foods that contain any sugar for 90 minutes after a workout. "Your body is working to use what you've done to build your muscles," she says. "You get a little dose of growth hormones afterwards, and if you avoid sugar, you'll get a second dose later."
Instead, take a serving of D-Ribose, which helps with ATP production, the energy source of our cells. "It aids in muscle recovery," says Winnie, and is especially good if you experience a lot of soreness after exercise. She likes powdered D-Ribose from Source Naturals or Jarrow Formulas, which can easily be mixed into a (sugar-free) drink.
For more advice about good exercise nutrition, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner.