Did you know that by incorporating more raw, green vegetables like kale into your diet daily, athletes can improve endurance, energy levels, and postpone fatigue during exercise? Did you also know that they contain powerful anti-cancer properties? Am I catching your attention yet? Continue reading “The 10 Most Super Superfoods: Part 7 of a 10 Part Series”
The one Super food you’re probably not eating enough of: Sweet Potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are one of the most optimal carbohydrates an athlete, or any person for that matter, can consume. I’m not just talking runners here. They’re highly beneficial for anyone who lives a sedentary lifestyle to any athlete looking for more strength, endurance or speed. Sweet potatoes offer a superior complex carbohydrate source that is stored, and then efficiently broken down for future energy needs. Complex carbohydrates serve as an important component of a healthy, well-balanced diet and contribute to weight loss. Because carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, I recommend complex carbohydrates (non-stripped, whole) ideally make up around at least 60% of daily total calories to fuel you for whatever you do.
I usually eat one sweet potato per day or at least four times a week. Here’s why I think you should eat them, too:
- They’re relatively low in calories. A medium-sized sweet potato (2″ in diameter, 5″ long) offers around 103 calories and 24 grams of carbs.
- Sweet potatoes are high in fiber (around 4g or 15% of your daily value). People often ignore the importance of fiber consumption. Fiber not only helps to satisfy you, it also helps you to feel fuller for longer and helps keep your digestion healthy.
- They’re packed with 35% of your daily value of Vitamin C, which helps for immune support and absorption of iron. They contain the highest amount of Vitamin A (beta-carotene) than any other root vegetable, have all the B Vitamins except B12, are high in magnesium and potassium, which will aid in diminishing cramps and preventing muscle spasms, contain all minerals except selenium and are a complete source of protein, helping to protect cells and muscles to recover and regenerate.
- They’ll help you lose weight. As stated above, they’re low in calories and high in fiber. Both play a huge role in weight loss. They also have a high water content to hydrate your body and also keep you fuller for longer and prevent overeating.
- Sweet potatoes are cheap and very easy to cook. If you store them in a cool, dry place, they’ll last for 6-8 weeks. I throw a couple in the oven to bake and have quick and easy snacks before or after my workouts or leftovers for dinner. They’re very versatile. You can bake, boil, mash, grill, roast, shred for use in baking recipes, blend in smoothies or cut into wedges to make fries (I highly recommend baking them with no oil).
- They’re delicious, wholicious and taste amazing alone or in any recipe.
Baked Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
- 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean (organic when possible). I personally like a mixture of Japanese sweet potato and regular sweet potato. The Japanese variety are mild yellow in color and not as sweet.
- 2 Tbsp water in spray bottle
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Leave the skin on and cut sweet potatoes into thin, even match sticks with a very sharp knife.
- Transfer to two parchment paper lined baking sheets and spray with water. Then sprinkle with seasonings.
- Arrange in a single layer to ensure they crisp up. Then sprinkle with seasonings.
- Bake for 15 minutes and flip/stir to cook on the other side. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until brown and crispy. You’ll know they’re done when the edges are dark brown and crispy.
- Remove from oven and either serve as is, or drizzle with a bit of maple syrup or honey to offset spiciness.
- Serve plain or with your favorite dip, such as ketchup.
As an elite athlete, I’m always looking for ways to help compliment my diet to ensure that I’m getting the highest quality nutrition. I always want to be able to perform my best, recover as quickly as possible and stay strong and healthy so I can keep training. Eating a diet filled with a variety of whole foods helps me do this. In my mind every whole food is a superfood, but I’d like to share with you my favorites and some of the most powerful.