Whether you’re an amateur athlete or seasoned professional, it’s likely that improving performance and endurance has been a goal of yours. Ergogenic aids in the form of foods and supplements can do just that. Maximize your training, recovery and performance by adding these amazing items to your nutrition and supplement program.

1. Coconut Oil
This natural fat source is beneficial when in unrefined form. Look for the phrase “extra virgin” or “expeller pressed.” Expeller-pressed ensures no high-heat temperatures were used, which may damage certain oils. Great for cooking or adding to smoothies, coconut oil’s lauric acid content is what provides its performance-enhancing qualities. Multiple studies, including one in the 2009 Journal of Nutrition Science and Vitaminology, have shown that Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) enhance strength endurance by suppressing the increase in blood lactate and reducing the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). MCT’s are more readily and easily hydrolyzed and converted to fatty acids through beta-oxidation than Long Chain Triglycerides. One to three tablespoons per day is recommended.

2. Kaledownload (3)
Kale is an amazing green! Packed with 10 essential vitamins plus electrolytes, minerals and fiber, this incredible food is a must for improving performance and health. Vitamins K, A and C are plentiful; however it’s the potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron that will offer endurance benefits. Deficiencies in these nutrients have been shown to significantly decrease performance ability. Try sautéing some kale in place of your usual spinach greens, or bake some in the oven and add salt for some crisp, delicious kale chips.

3. Caffeine
While it may not be the newest and fanciest supplement on the block, studies have shown caffeine has great benefits in boosting athletic performance. By stimulating the body’s release of free fatty acids, caffeine allows muscle glycogen to be spared while fat is burned as fuel. Beneficial amounts range from 3-9mg per kg of bodyweight taken 60 minutes prior to training or competition. In the form of drip-percolated coffee, this equates to 2-6 regular sized cups. While coffee is the preferred caffeine source for many athletes, caffeine can be taken in pill form.

4. Glutamine
While this beneficial amino acid has been a staple in bodybuilders’ supplement stashes for quite some time, research shows that glutamine can also help endurance athletes who are training at elite and professional level intensities. Glutamine supplementation could be beneficial in recovery from injury, illness and extreme training since the body requires higher amounts of the amino acid under these circumstances. Typical safe dosages are 500mg taken 1-3 times daily.

5. Dark Chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate is a healthy food when consumed in small to moderate amounts. Antioxidants known as catechins are present and available in chocolate with a 60 percent or higher cacao content. One ounce of dark chocolate contains as much antioxidants as a 5-ounce glass of red wine. Some benefits of dark chocolate include reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow to the arteries and heart and decreasing LDL “bad” cholesterol oxidation. There is a direct correlation between cacao percentage and antioxidant content. Darker chocolate has higher amounts. Milk binds to antioxidants, making them unavailable; therefore milk chocolate and milk consumption with chocolate should be avoided. One ounce of dark chocolate per day is the recommended serving according to the University of Michigan’s Healing Foods Pyramid. This equates to about 2½ tablespoons of chocolate chips.

6. Yogurt
This delicious treat helps with recovery between workouts and energy for training through its rich supply of protein. A process called gluconeogenesis allows protein to be converted into glucose when necessary, so additional dietary protein helps prevent muscle wasting and supplies extra energy to the body. In addition, yogurt is a natural source of glutamine, which may help endurance athletes improve recovery and performance. Finally, yogurt is loaded with beneficial bacteria that help keep the digestive and immune systems healthy. Yogurt can be eaten by itself as a snack or meal, or it can be added to dishes such as soup and chili as a sauce. Yogurt makes an excellent dip or dressing for fruit, vegetables and salads, too.

7. EnduroMax
Max Muscle’s EnduroMax has a unique approach to delaying fatigue. Max Muscle Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach and Franchisee Jennifer Lee said, “Endurance training is tough on the body. It is generally a catabolic [muscle wasting] activity and can cause some undesired effects such as a suppressed immune system, increased inflammation and muscle breakdown. EnduroMax was designed to combat these undesired effects and promote an anabolic state. It also provides electrolytes and other co-factors to promote hydration, fight inflammation and help with utilization of fatty acids for energy.” Those nutrients include glutamine, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, caffeine, BCAA’s, l-carnitine and vitamin C. EnduroMax contains three types of carbohydrates: maltodextrin, sucrose and dextrose. The former is a short chain glucose polymer that allows for intermediate energy, while sucrose and dextrose provide a quick source of fuel to assist in fighting off early fatigue.

8. Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice has recently gained popularity as a fad to improve training endurance. Although studies have shown controversial results, the most promising results were seen when beetroot juice, which is rich in nitrates, was consumed for a period of six days prior to training or competition. This study, in a 2013 edition of the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, revealed that consumption of beetroot juice versus a placebo in trained cyclists showed a boost in time-trial performance and power output. Another study by the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that nitrate supplementation via beetroot juice improved sport-specific intermittent exercise performance. The nitrates in beetroot juice may help boost the body’s production of nitric oxide, thus increasing endurance. Positive studies administered participants about 4 cups of beetroot juice daily. MS&F

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