Damian Stoy, founder of Wholistic Running, shares tips on how to get better quality sleep to ensure you have more energy and perform better. His article is published in this month’s Endurance News magazine. Click on the article to zoom in if needed.
Here are the top foods that Damian and I personally eat:
1. Goji berries are a superfood high in nutrients and one of the world’s highest sources of antioxidants. Goji berries are also an adaptogen that improves stamina and increases energy.
2. Chia seeds are high in omega-3’s which reduce inflammation naturally. Also, just 2 tbsp of chia seeds give you the following RDA’s: 13% calcium, 41% iron, 19% magnesium and 20% selenium.
3. Quinoa is a staple in our diets. Just 1 cup of quinoa provides 39% B6, 22% folate, 75% iron, 47% magnesium and 27% zinc for your RDA and is only 222 calories. That is nutrient dense!
4. Maca is another superfood and adaptogen. We put 1-2 tbsp in our smoothies everyday for added performance, stamina and energy.
5. Sweet potatoes are another staple in our diet. The Okinawan’s, some of the longest living people’s on the planet, diet consisted of about 67% sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are nutrient dense and super tasty.
Damian’s favorite smoothie recipe:
2 T chia seeds
1 cup mixed berries
1 cup mixed greens
12 oz water
handful of goji berries
1 T Maca
-Lindsey Hintz, M.S. in Holistic Nutrition and certified in Plant-based Nutrition from the T. Colin Cambell Center for Nutritional Studies at Cornell, the founder of Wholicious Living and an elite runner
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-Damian Stoy is the founder of Wholistic Running, respected coach, biomechanics specialist and certified running instructor. As a professional ultra runner he has been injury-free for over 9 years. Read his bio and race results.
Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is essential for overall health and well-being. The addition of specific superfoods can give you added benefits and help you perform optimally. Keep reading to see what foods elite ultramarathon runner Damian Stoy adds to his diet for optimal health, enhanced recovery and peak performance.
- Super greens: Barley Grass, spirulina and chlorella are alkalizing, full of nutrients and full of powerful anti-oxidants such as Superoxide dismutase (SOD).
- Enzymes and probiotics: Essential for healthy digestion and helpful for quick recovery.
- Flax and chia seeds: Full of omega-3s which are natural anti-inflammatories.
- Powerful herbs: Turmeric, ginkgo biloba, aloe, grape seed extract and ginger are natural anti-inflammatories and speed up the healing process.
- Super fruits: Goji berries, mangosteen, and acai enhance overall health and performance.
Macro Greens and Miracle Reds are the perfect source for these super foods. Damian uses Macro Greens and Miracle Reds daily and always adds them to his post-run meal or smoothie. He also enjoys the MacroLife superfood bars which he eats before, during and after runs.
Damian’s superfood smoothie for optimal performance and recovery:
1 cup coconut milk
1 scoop Macro Greens
1 T. chia seeds
1/2 cup blueberries or scoop of Miracle Reds
You may believe that you need to train harder and very often to perform well. However, I train infrequently and perform very well (see my race results) because I run smarter not harder and I use these tips I am sharing with you now. Eating well and an efficient running technique can greatly reduce fatigue, improve your performance and make for a more enjoyable running experience.
What causes fatigue when you run?
Energy inefficiency: The most effective way to have a less fatigue when you run is to reduce energy expenditure. If we can run more efficiently, we can run faster and farther with less effort and more joy. Running can literally be easier. An efficient running technique reduces energy expenditure and increases performance. Damian teaches efficient running technique for runners of all levels. He also offers online coaching and online video analysis with individualized technique guidance plans..
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Oxygen debt: Muscles require maximum oxygen to function optimally. How do we increase our oxygen capacity? One way is consuming adequate iron. Iron, a component of hemoglobin, is what transports oxygen throughout the body.
Foods to consume daily for optimal iron levels in the blood: chlorella, blackstrap molasses, dark leafy greens
Metabolic waste buildup: Waste products build up in the muscles causing fatigue (i.e. lactic acid). Having a healthy body pH is crucial for overall health but also to handle the excessive waste products accumulated during running. An alkaline body will feel much less fatigued during a race than an acidic body.
- Alkalizing foods: Fruits and vegetables, wheatgrass
- Acidifying foods: Meat, excess protein, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee
Impact and stress on muscles: Impact causes injury and fatigue during races. Reducing impact is crucial for increased performance especially for longer distances but is helpful for all races. The best way to minimize impact is an efficient, low impact running technique.
Inflammation: Excessive inflammation also causes fatigue. We can reduce inflammation by going into a race with a ‘healthy’ inflammation response. Consuming omega-3’s and other natural anti-inflammatories daily helps decrease inflammation during races. I recommend flax oil and Tissue Rejuvenator daily. High daily antioxidant levels as well as during a race reduces muscle damage and fatigue. Incorporate goji berries, wheatgrass, fresh juices and lots of fruits and veggies for high levels of natural antioxidants.
Pre-Race: I taper/rest 7-21 days before a race, depending on the specific race. You can rarely rest too much but you can train too much before a race. As I taper for a race, I also make sure I’m eating plenty of alkalizing foods including fruits and veggies. I make sure to have sufficient electrolytes in my body by consuming Endurolytes for a few days before a race.
Race: The morning of the race, I eat very little. People are surprised to hear I eat a banana or two and that’s it before a 50 mile race. I don’t want my digestive system taxed during the race. If prepared properly, my body should have plenty of stored glycogen already. Please be advised, I am pushing myself harder than the average runner and therefore am very picky. Also, do not try any new food right before a race.
I am often asked what are the best foods to eat for health, increased energy, recovery, healing injuries and performance. I believe certain foods are beneficial for everyone and I will share my thoughts including what has worked for me.
Eating for Overall Heath and Well Being
I suggest eating a variety of food that is whole, unrefined, local, and organic. Eat real food! Keep it creative and fun and try not to be too restrictive. Include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and nuts. What you eat everyday is the foundation of health. Do not rely on supplements, pills and miracle foods for health.
I highly suggest getting rid of dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt) as well as other highly inflammatory and mucus forming foods such as refined flours, sugar, wheat, eggs, alcohol and fried foods. Excessive mucus lines the GI tract and severely hampers your body’s ability to assimilate nutrients and digest food. Also, these foods are common allergens and produce symptoms such as runny noses and phlegm in the throat or lungs. This is not normal! If you have these symptoms, play around with eliminating certain foods for a week or two and see if you notice any improvements. Foods that help rid the body of excess mucus includes lemons, apple cider vinegar, ginger and cayenne.
For runners specifically, I suggest nutrient dense foods such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and brown rice. Try to limit pasta, non-whole grain and wheat products. Enzyme rich foods provide energy and include sprouts, raw foods, fresh juices, miso and wheatgrass. Include foods rich in healthy fats including flax seeds, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil.
Foods for Performance
Incorporating specific performance enhancing foods is something you may want to try. Foods known as adaptogens are beneficial for many reasons including increased endurance, stamina, energy and a healthy immune system. Adaptogens include ginseng, maca, astragalus, chia seeds and goji berries. I also recommend flax oil, turmeric, ginger and wheatgrass for their anti-inflammatory properties and greatly reducing recovery time. For runners, I recommend foods high in iron and those which build the blood. Those include dark greens, spirulina, cherries, seaweeds, beets, parsley and molasses. Incorporating these foods will allow you to assimilate oxygen more efficiently and result in greater performance. Ample fresh herbs and spices are recommended for anti-oxidants and to benefit digestion. Examples include ginger, cayenne, garlic, cinnamon and oregano.
I don’t use supplements most of the year but during the race season I incorporate a few to recover faster and improve performance. I highly recommend Tissue Rejuvenator from Hammer Nutrition for healing, reducing inflammation and speeding up recovery. Zyflamend is another great product with similar benefits. Hammer Nutrition provides a variety of super high quality supplements that increase performance and overall health. Click on this to get 15% off your first order!
Choosing healthy substitutions can make an immense difference in overall health. Don’t just get rid of the bad, enjoy the good! Since we all have cravings, here are some recommendations for alternative foods that satisfy and actually provide healthful benefits instead of dis-ease.
- Replace ‘bad’ fats with coconut oil, olive oil, avocados and flax oil.
- Replace table salt with Celtic and Real Salt. Seaweeds, herbs and spices provide the real flavor and nutrients we crave.
- Replace white sugar with maple syrup, honey, molasses, dates and agave.
- Snacks: seaweed or kale chips (salty), apple with almond butter.
- Hydrate with herbal teas and fresh juices not soda or coffee.
To find out specifically which foods benefit you, I suggest listening to your body. Remember, eat real food and play with what works for you. You’ll have more energy, greater health and will be able to do more of what you love to do in life.