By: Calum McLellan, CISSN, CSCS, NASM-PES Sports Nutritionist and Sports Performance Specialist Spectrum Sports Performance SSP Nutrition: Timing

This week’s nutrition topic focuses on the quality of the foods we are including in our performance diets. When speaking about the quality of food, we narrow the topic down to two categories: nutrient dense foods and calorie dense foods. Although two food items may be equal in caloric value, does not mean they have equal nutritional value.

For example:

Apple vs. 2 Oreo Cookies: both = 100 calories
The nutrient dense apple supplies good carbs, fiber, vitamins and minerals

The calorie dense Oreo cookies have bad fats, high in sugar, virtually NO nutrients.

It is important that we try to include as many nutrient dense foods in our diet as possible, as they have far more health benefits than their counterparts. Nutrient dense foods help the body recover quicker, allow for consistent energy sources, and allow the body to work at its highest efficiency. A diet lacking nutritional quality can have your body working at sub-par levels.

As a rule of thumb, a diet rich whole food items (single ingredient items) such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables are the easiest way to improve your total nutrient intake. When looking at food labels, the fewer the items on the ingredient list, generally the better the food is for you. Also keeping an eye out for high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list can help you quickly eliminate foods that may be sabotaging your fitness/health progress.

Here is a list of super foods that have a high nutrient value:

Tea (green or black)
Greek Yogurt
Whey Protein
Dark Chocolate
Flax Seeds
Chia Seeds

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