Since last year, I’ve been training for ½ marathons… This weekend I will run my 4th half-marathon – the Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in San Juan, PR.
Training for a running event is exciting… and might seem kinda challenging for a vegetarian. People talk soooooo much about the importance of proteins when you’re training for a sporting event. And always, people concentrate on animal-based proteins. That’s all they know!!! I already mentioned a few ideas on the snacks I usually have when I am training to make sure I have the energy, stamina and recover as quickly as possible to continue my training successfully.
Something I have learned is to add certain boosters to my morning fruit smoothies… mix-ins that will provide me with protein, energy, strengthen my immune system and keep me injury-free. Some have become fads, some not so much, but I want to share them with all of you and a little of what they can provide:
- Maca – Maca is a plant that grows in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable for the last 3,000 years and most Peruvians consume the root as a boiled or roasted vegetable in soups, just like we eat potatoes or taro root. I use maca in powder form.
Maca is used for anemia, to increase stamina and athletic performance, to improve memory and fertility. When I learned about this fertility fact I was not too excited, but… oh well, the other benefits outweigh that minor detail. It’s also used for osteoporosis, depression, leukemia, HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction, to arouse sexual desire and to boost the immune system. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass.
Maca is rich in Vitamins B, C and E. It provides calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and many fatty and amino acids. If you are pregnant or lactating you should avoid taking maca. There are no known side effects of maca but like any other supplement it should not be taken in large amounts. I usually add a tablespoon of maca powder to my morning smoothie. It has a peculiar taste… kinda like butterscotch, but mixed in with your favorite smoothie the flavor blends very well.
- Chia Seeds – Yep… these are the same ones… Chi-chi-chi-chia!!! If you were around in the 80s, you might recognize and even be hearing the jingle in your head right now. They became infamous via the Chia Pets of the past, but nowadays chia is becoming better known as a great health supplement and food.
Chia seeds are relatives to the mint plant and they’re native to Mexico and Guatemala, suggesting they were a very important food crop for the Aztecs. Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorous, and protein. They are known to help with controlling Type-2 diabetes, fight belly fat, making teeth and bones stronger, improving blood pressure and increasing levels of healthy cholesterol.
I add a tablespoon of chia seeds in my morning smoothies. But I prefer to plan a little in advance… I add the chia seeds to my Magic Bullet mug with a splash of juice. Wait about 15 minutes for the seeds to bloom and form a gelatinous coating. Afterwards, add the rest of your smoothie ingredients. The seeds will bloom… and they’ll either bloom in the mug or around your teeth if you get some of them stuck when you drink your smoothie. So I prefer to bloom before I blend.
- Goji Berries – Berries are good for you… they’re considered like the “fountain of youth” by many. Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, , cherries, açai berries… they’re all filled with powerful antioxidants. But what’s so special about the goji berry?
Goji Berries are a bright orange-red and come from China, where they’ve been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer. People have enjoyed goji berries raw, cooked or dried to treat many common health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems. It’s also known to benefit mental well-being, promote calmness, athletic performance, happiness, and improve quality of sleep and feelings of good health. Goji berries are rich in Vitamin A.
I also add a tablespoon of Goji berry powder to my morning smoothies.
- Hemp – You’re thinking it… so let’s address the pink elephant in the middle of the room. Hemp seeds come from the same hemp plant renowned for its durable fiber and also it’s a variety of Cannabis, the plant grown for marijuana. This particular variety contains extremely low levels, or none at all, of THC, which is what’s considered a drug in most countries and what give people that “high”. Something very similar to the amount of opium found in poppy seeds. It is not possible to use industrial hemp as a drug.
Hemp is considered one of the world’s most nutritious plants. Hemp contains all of the essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron, potassium and fiber. It also contains Vitamin E and antioxidants.
Hemp can be consumed in many packaged products nowadays – hemp milk, ground hemp flour, hemp oil, hemp ice cream and hemp protein powder. I add these hemp hearts in my smoothies too.
I hope that you can appreciate you can supplement your training diet by simply adding a few scoops of these add-ons to your morning smoothies. No need to depend on the eggs or other animal-based protein sources to build muscle and to strengthen physically. I have noticed how I perform better during training and even recover better afterwards when I add these powerful add-ons to my diet.
What has been your experience?? Do you like any of these supplements?? Tell me your story…