Jill here - walking just 1mile per day nets 365 miles per year plus other wellness gains.
Small things accumulate in a linear fashion but the gains can accelerate over time.
Soon that 1mile per day also becomes better sleep, brighter mood, enhanced confidence, lower body fat.
There are 2 ways to approach a change in nutrition.
1. Start at the bottom and place the cornerstones - macronutrients, unprocessed foods, hydration and then add the smaller critical bricks to boost performance.
2. Start at the top with simple additions, build a little confidence and work your way downwards to the larger cornerstones.
Both strategies arrive at the same place. For some the first step is a tablespoon, for others it’s a solid cornerstone placed with intent.
Whether you’ve laid the cornerstones and are looking for critical bricks or if you’re simply looking to sprinkle performance on your current nutrition then you may want to consider one or all of the below.
1. A spoonful of nutritional yeast – not to be confused with Brewer’s yeast.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae undergoes a heat and drying process that renders it inactive. It’s dairy free and gluten free, high in beta glucans essential for immune function and one of the rare complete plant proteins in that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. These are the amino acids that the body cannot manufacture. (One caveat, if you get migraines from certain aged cheeses, etc then be careful as nutritional yeast contains the amino acid tyramine too.)
It’s super rich in B-vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and most manufacturers fortify it with B12. All these B vitamins are essential in the creation of energy (ATP). Nutritional yeast also contains calcium, potassium and iron in substantial amounts.
A lovely mild cheesy flavor which goes well sprinkled over eggs, soup, rice, pasta. I add it to Joe’s favorite lunchtime gumbo. He doesn’t even know it’s there!
2. A spoonful of ground flaxseeds - delivers performance on all fronts.
Each tablespoon comes with 3g of essential fatty acids, in particular alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is one of the most heart healthy nutrients out there. ALA helps prevent cholesterol being deposited in your arteries.
Flax seeds are also especially high in the amino acid arginine, which is readily converted to nitric oxide a substance which relaxes blood vessels. So now you have relaxed, cholesterol free arteries meaning more oxygen rich blood delivered to working muscles and organs. Manna for every athlete!
That one tablespoon also contributes vitamin B1, calcium, iron, magnesium and 3g of fibre (both soluble and insoluble) to your nutrient bank balance.
Ground flaxseeds are so versatile, sprinkle over oatmeal, yogurt and granola or add to your smoothie. You won’t even know it’s there.
3. A spoonful of fresh ginger - yes, it has to be fresh as we’re looking for the active and aromatic compounds of gingerol and shogaol.
These compounds have a direct effect on inflammation and we all need help keeping our inflammatory processes in check post training.
Gingerol builds up in the digestive tract, which is why it’s often considered a treatment for nausea. There's also promising research on protection for various gastrointestinal cancers.
Grate it fresh onto oatmeal, add it to a smoothie or if you’re a morning juicer, like we are, it’s fabulous with carrot, lemon or beet juice.
4. A spoonful of cacao powder - not to be confused with cocoa powder.
Cacoa is an antioxidant powerhouse. Gram for gram it’s one of the highest plant based sources of iron, magnesium and calcium. It’s also a great source of positive brain chemicals like serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine.
Because it’s milled at lower temps and is packaged as a pure powder with no added sugar its slightly bitter so I’d stick to a teaspoon on this one.
Add to oatmeal, smoothie, energy bars and balls.
5. A spoonful of blueberries - ok a few spoonfuls of any berries fresh or frozen is just a good thing to do. Blueberries are particularly high in the mineral manganese, which is vital in the process of converting carbs and fat to energy (ATP).
They are also high in vitamin K and we all need to fiercely protect the bone mass have built.
Add to oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt or salad.
How does the song go, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” I’m not advocating sugar but I do like the concept of just a spoonful to get going on a positive track.
If you're interested in a one hour presentation on the cornerstones of Performance Nutrition then check out my talk, April 8th.