As you know, I place a huge amount of importance on healthy eating. My household is committed to clean, organic foods. To fully reach your potential as a triathlete, you must pay attention to how you're fueling your engine.
In addition to being very purposeful about my diet fundamentals, I'm also an advocate of using nutritional supplements. As athletes we place tremendous stress on our bodies, and supplements can help us improve how we deal with that stress. Here are five of my favorites.
An important amino acid for the heart and blood vessels, L-arginine is converted into nitric oxide (NO), which causes vasodilation for improved blood flow and more suppleness of the veins. The end result is heightened nutrient transport and tissue oxygenation.
Sources and use: Nuts and coconut are two great sources of L-arginine, but I also like to supplement my diet with EAS 100-percent whey protein, which I use in my morning smoothies.
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Known only by its initials (who can say beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate?!), HMB is a metabolite of the branched-chain amino acid leucine. Leucine is an essential amino acid that can trigger muscle protein synthesis and help prevent protein breakdown. The damage to skeletal muscle after hard exercise sessions—especially after intense strength workouts or our longer runs with eccentric load damage—is accompanied by elevated levels of muscle enzymes. HMB reduces the spike in these muscle enzymes and limits the "leaking" of the enzymes from the cells. Studies have shown that this reduction limits DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness—and I've certainly found this to be the case.
Sources and use: HMB is found in a number of foods including: whey protein, chicken, salmon, dairy and eggs. However, daily supplementation with HMB is key during: a) high levels of training, b) excessive travel, c) lack of sleep and d) whenever you might be prone to upper respiratory tract infections. I typically take 3 grams of EAS Muscle Armor mixed with 12 ounces of water every day. When used post-exercise, HMB is almost magical.
Another essential amino acid, glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our blood and is stored in skeletal muscle and in our lungs. For the past decade I've recommended L-glutamine to my athletes, specifically when they're dealing DOMS and whenever they're vulnerable to colds and sickness. Since your L-glutamine levels can be depleted by 50 to 70 percent after a workout, this also puts the immune system under siege. Recovery and immune health can be optimized with L-glutamine supplementation.
Sources and use: I like to take L-glutamine as a supplement. Depending on my current workloads and the stress factors noted above, I typically take 5-12 grams of L-glutamine each day.