If I were to tell you that you could include certain things in your diet that would markedly augment your performance in the gym, track, or trail, and that the only side effects were that you’d be healthier overall or maybe smell a little like maple syrup, would you do it?
I’m assuming you would. Athletes are constantly looking for an edge, something that will make them bigger, stronger, or faster than their peers. It’s no wonder performance-enhancing drugs have become ubiquitous in sport over the last several years. But while drugs such as HGH and steroids will seriously damage your health if used, there are some natural ways to increase your performance that are somewhat under the radar.
Here are four foods you may not be consuming. And even if you are eating these foods, you might not be using them in the best way to enhance your performance.
1. Beet Juice and Arugula
This one has gotten some attention over the past year, as more and more endurance athletes have been including beet juice in their diets before exercising. Why? It seems the high level of nitrates (which the body converts to nitrites and then to nitric oxide) in beet juice might allow the body to burn energy while using less oxygen, reducing the overall oxygen cost of exercise.
In other words, drinking beet juice before exercise can potentially make your body more efficient and allow you to go that extra mile or run, bike, or swim a little harder. Interestingly, scientists found that beet juice was beneficial for both low-intensity exercise and high-intensity exercise, so those competing in a CrossFit competitionor something similar might benefit as well. Other foods rich in nitrates? Leafy greens, led by arugula.