Endurance Training: 10 Nutrition Tips That Can Make a Difference

Ben Greenfield at the Nevis TriathalonBy Ben Greenfield – Sports Science and Exercise Physiology Expert, Fitness Trainer, Coach and Ironman Triathlete 

Iron helps your muscles get more oxygen for exercise, which means more endurance. Here are 10 highly effective ways to get it right now (without gnawing on a piece of metal):

1. Eat the following “Power Iron” salad 4-5 times a week: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of wheat germ or unsweetened bran cereal (available in the cereal section of the grocery store) on 1-2 handfuls of spinach and romaine lettuce.

Include a handful of chopped broccoli and 2 tablespoons of garbanzo, kidney, lima, pinto, black or navy beans. You can also include 1-2 teaspoons of chopped olives and 1-2 chopped celery stalks.

Use an olive oil/vinaigrette dressing, and include, if available, 1-2 pinches of parsley, thyme, oregano and/or basil.

2. Eat 1 handful per day of the following snack mix: 1 part pumpkin seeds, 1 part Brazil nuts, 1 part sesame seeds, 1 part raisins, dried cranberries or dried blueberries.

3. Include the following meal in your diet 2 times a week: roasted or sautéed asparagus (3-5 pieces), sautéed with tofu, sea salt, pepper, turmeric to taste, lemon juice and slivered almonds. Include, if available, 1-2 pinches of parsley, thyme, oregano and/or basil. This is a very easy and quick meal to make and pack for lunches or eat as a side for dinner.

4. Other good produce to include regularly in salads and as lunch or dinner sides, and to purchase frequently when at the grocery store: string beans or green beans, kale, mustard greens, kelp, Brussels sprouts, olives, green peas, fennel and celery.

5. Since the transport system responsible for iron uptake is highly dependent on the mineral magnesium as a co-factor, try to include a magnesium mineral supplement in your diet, such as Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm®. Seventy-five percent of endurance athletes are deficient in this crucial mineral. This product is specifically designed to achieve optimum magnesium ratios to eliminate cramping and enhance running performance.

6. Wait at least 1 hour after a meal before drinking any black or green tea.

7. Include a few sprinkles of cinnamon with all breakfast foods, yogurts, cereals, etc.

8. If you consume oatmeal, consider substituting with cooked quinoa, which is higher in iron.

9. If possible, eat a serving of red meat (the size of a deck of cards) 1-2 times a week.

10. Chopped fresh dill weed or dill spice and a dark red salmon (4-6 oz.) go very well together and would be another excellent dinner choice. You can serve with roasted asparagus or any of the other vegetables listed above. Crimini mushrooms also are high in iron and would be excellent sautéed with the salmon.

As an added endurance booster try Natural Vitality’s NutraRev! ® combined with their Energy28™ product 45 minutes before training or a race. Besides the antioxidant protection, I found that the combination of both helps utilize carbohydrates efficiently to get the most out of any calorie-dense nutrition that I would take during training and during a race. I recently took this combination before the start of the Nevis Triathlon, and it really helped boost and sustain my energy level.

Ben Greenfield, M.A. Sports Science and Exercise Physiology — Mr. Greenfield was voted the 2008 Personal Trainer of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is the author of “Shape21 — The Complete 21 Day Lean Body Manual” along with several other books, including “Top 12 Resistance Training Routines for Triathletes,” “Run With No Pain” and “100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.” If you found these tips helpful, then be sure to sign up for the free newsletter at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, where you’ll get even more free videos, audios and articles to boost your fitness success.