Whole Foods That Should be in Every Athlete's Kitchen

1. Organic Coconut Oil: This saturated fat is known for its light coconut
taste and high-smoke point. It's a great energy source in and during training
because it's a significant source of lauric acid, a fatty acid that has antimicrobial
properties. It promotes insulin sensitivity in cells, which
discourages diabetes and fat storage, and potentially improves heart health
Despite its many benefits, you may be under the impression that coconut
oil is off-limits because it's a saturated fat. Not all saturated fats are the
same. Organic, extra virgin coconut oil contains a high percentage of
medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)
MCTs have the advantage of being easy to digest, without need of extra
lipid enzymes and bile salts and they're used directly by the mitochondria
(energy producers) of the cells, and seldom stored as fat. Because of this,
they don't negatively affect cholesterol levels or overall health.

Add it to Your Diet

• For everyday n utrition: Incorporate organic extra virgin coconut oil
into stir fry dishes, baked goods or as a replacement for butter
• For training nutrition: Use it as an energy source before and
during training, or as a recovery aid. Put it in a pre-training smoothie, posttraining
dish of mashed sweet potatoes, or mix it with chia seeds, honey
and peanut butter for a quick snack.


Ginger has long been a go-to supplement and food for general health
promotion and reduction in joint pain. This powerhouse food is loaded
with anti-inflammatory nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of
which work to reduce risk of disease and chronic inflammation. The
nutrients in ginger also neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and
promote gut health.
Recent studies show that ginger is effective in reducing muscle soreness and
joint pain in athletes. In one study, participants took either 2 grams ginger
or placebo each day for several days before strenuous exercise, and the
ginger participants had a 25 percent reduction in soreness indicators versus
those on the placebo.

Add it to Your Diet

• For everyday nutrition: Use it daily in smoothies, stir fry dishes, salads
and grated into sandwiches.
• For training nutrition: Reduce post-training soreness by consuming 2
grams per day. You can choose 4 ginger pill supplements per day
(check the label and only take four if they're 500 to 550 milligrams
each), 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger each day, or 1/4 teaspoon of ground


Beets are rich in nitrates. Research on the correlation between beetroot
juice and performance began after it was shown that nitrates could increase
nitric oxide in the body. This in turn dilates vessels to improve the delivery
and uptake of oxygen by the muscles.
Preliminary studies showed a reduction in oxygen cost during moderate
and intense training and increased time to exhaustion thanks to beetroot
juice. More recent studies have shown benefits of beetroot juice when taken
in both a 6-day (16 ounces per day) regimen and a one-time pre-training
dose 2 to 3 hours before training.
In general, beets are full of antioxidants, phytochemicals and a variety of
other good-for-you nutrients, making them an important kitchen staple.

Add it to Your Diet

• For everyday nutrition: Add beets to salads or sandwiches or roast
them for dinner.
• For training nutrition: Drink 16 ounces of beetroot juice, take 6
teaspoons of freeze-dried powder or a beet training shot, gel or
supplement. Make sure whichever variety you take has at least 300
milligrams nitrates. If you're using the juice or powder in a smoothie
or pre-training snack, consume it about 2 to 3 hours before training. If
you're using a commercial beetroot training gel, follow the
manufacturer's instructions.

 Yogurt and Probiotics

Plain yogurt is a nutritious food item that contains healthy bacteria called
probiotics. These can help an athlete in three specific ways.
They improve nutrient absorption, which can help recovery by increasing
the delivery of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins
to the cells. They boost immune function and can decrease the incidence of
mononucleosis in athletes, in particular. Finally, they can significantly
reduce digestion issues both acutely and chronically, helping athletes who
experience nausea during and after training.

Add it to Your Diet

• For everyday nutrition: Nosh on plain yogurt topped with berries,
nuts and honey for breakfast or lunch. Add it to smoothies, use it as
sour cream, or eat it with fruit for a snack.
• For training nutrition: Add yogurt to a pre-training or recovery
smoothie or parfait. Mix the yogurt with honey and fruit for
carbohydrates and nuts or chia seeds for healthy energy-supplying

 Chia Seeds

In addition to providing long-lasting, slow-digesting carbs and soluble fiber,
chia seeds provide minerals like phosphorous, manganese and
calcium. They're also a significant source of plant-based omega-3s. While
these don't replace the omega-3s from fish and seafood, they still promote
reduced inflammation and overall health.
Chia seeds are also a great source of soluble fiber at 6 grams per 1
tablespoon. Soluble fiber promotes digestive health, steady energy and
blood sugars, reduced cholesterol, improved immunity and overall
wellness. These little seeds are also loaded with healthful antioxidants that
combat oxidative stress and are a complete protein with all essential amino
acids in tact.
While high fiber foods don't sit well if eaten immediately before or during
training, chia seeds seem to settle fine for most athletes and provide longlasting,
low-glycemic carbohydrates for energy.

Add it to Your Diet

• For everyday nutrition: Add chia seeds to yogurt, smoothies, cereal,
oats, salads, sauces, puddings and more.
• For tr aining nutrition: Mix honey, peanut butter, organic coconut oil
and chia for pre-training or recovery smoothie, or add chia to honey
and sea salt for an on-the-go natural gel.