Okay, I totally know you guys have marathons on the brain, but this trick works for any race. Hard 10k? Sure. Half marathon? Yup. Even a 5k!
The reason this two ingredient recipe is particularly perfect for the post-marathoner is 1) its easy to eat when your body is stressed out after a long 26.2 mile journey 2) It can easily be thrown in a checked bag for the end of a race 3) Even if you're going to be eating a post-race meal soon after the race, it doesn't hurt to have a post-race snack before your meal.
But first we gotta talk about ...
Before we talk all about what the magical ingredients in this lovely "recipe" (I don't know, can we call putting two foods together a recipe?), I want to talk about dietary nitrates.
I know. You're not excited about dietary nitrates YET, but you will be. Why? I'll tell ya! Dietary nitrate has been shown in several small studies (yes, fo' sho' small) to help athletes push harder and perform better simply by consuming a source of dietary nitrate.
Nitric oxide has been used to treat hypertension for years, but only in 2007 did scientists realize that dietary sources of nitric oxide could potentially benefit athletic performance in endurance athletes. Nitrate plays a role in "reducing" the amount of oxygen a hard working muscle needs thus improving the muscles exercise efficiency and reducing your perception of how hard you're working. If you feel like you're not working super hard, you can ramp up the peek effort, ya dig?
Consuming nitrate rich foods for 3-7 days prior to an athlete event has been shown to improve athletic performance with some studies showing a one time intake may also benefit an athlete 2-3 hours before an athletic event. And while many of the studies used large doses of dietary nitrate in 2-3 hours before an event, positive effects in performance have also been linked to the consumption of a totally easy-to-consume daily quantity of nitrate from your normal diet. Literature suggests that nitrate is useful for hard efforts ranging from 5-30 minutes, which suggests that while nitrates may not be the solution for carrying you over a 4 hour race, they can help you kick it at the end or up a hill. Nitrate is thought to add a little power when you need it most.
Something I found frustrating while reviewing the literature is no one broke the recommendations down into terms that are easy for us, the laymen, to understand. So I'm kinda winging this next part TBH.
What I do know is that foods rich in dietary nitrate include dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, beets and tart cherries. I do know that I usually eat a lot of veggies day-to-day ANYWAY, but its hard to say if I'm eating enough to meet the dose used in the studies. The studies frequently used 0.5L of beet juice as a source of dietary nitrate, which I can tell ya right now I do not eat on a regular basis.
My next half marathon is November 10th and I'm going to do a little experiment where I supplement with beet root powder for the 10 days before my race and see if I can subjectively feel the difference (I'm not measuring my blood or anything). Wana join me in this experiment before your next race? I'm going to try drinking a scoop of Love Beet's Beet Root Powder everyday for 10 days before my race to see if I feel/perform better! LMK if you're going to try this trick out too! (Remember, we have to practice asap adding the powder into our daily routine BEFORE adding it to our race week schedule - never try anything new during race week!)
Back to why you're really here...
ANYWAY, you came here for a super simple recipe for the BEST post race food ever, and instead you got a science lesson. Whoops, sorry.
So here's the dealio. This two ingredient REAL FOOD recipe contains whopping amounts of nitric oxide but more importantly, this specific carb-rich source of nitric oxide has been shown to have post-race benefits as well by decreasing oxidative stress. Pair it with a leucine rich source of protein, since leucine is a branch chained amino acid most linked with muscle repair, and ya got yourself the perfect post-recovery snack!
You can check out a video where I walk you through the steps by clicking here!