Fueling the Athlete

Fueling the Athlete in You

  • Athletes the world over rely on peanut butter to provide long lasting energy for their competitive lifestyles.
  • Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, peanuts and peanut butter can be an important part of a nutritious eating plan for performance, recovery and well-being.

Sports Nutrition

Athletes need a special kind of nutrition…the kind that lasts and makes the most of every calorie.  Nutrient-dense foods like peanuts and peanut butter are perfect.  Energy boils down to calories and at 170 calories and seven grams of protein per ounce of peanuts and 190 calories and eight grams of protein per two tablespoons of peanut butter, peanuts and peanut butter are concentrated sources of nutrient-dense calories.

According to the Institutes of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes for protein, the average adult needs 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.  However, athletes may need extra protein to help their bodies recover from the stress of training.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that athletes engaged in weight-focused or body-building sports could need as much as 1.7g of protein per kilogram of body weight.  Eating protein from a variety of animal and vegetable sources will help ensure a well-balanced diet that includes all vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Here are a few highlights of peanut nutrients of importance to fueling the athlete in you:

Protein:   Eating a variety of protein sources, including plant-based sources such as peanuts, can help provide needed nutrients and reduce the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in the diet.  Protein is essential for muscle growth, maintenance, and recovery.

Vitamins, Minerals and More:

  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a dietary antioxidant that helps to protect cells from oxidative stress, a normal, yet damaging, physiological process (1).
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is important for muscle function including the heart, enzyme function and energy production (2).
  • Folic Acid: Folic Acid is important for new healthy cells (3).
  • Copper: Copper is essential for red blood cell formation and for healthy blood vessels, nerves, immune system and bones (4).
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is important for the formation of teeth and bones, cell growth and muscle function, as well as helping the body use vitamins to create energy for cells (5).
  • Niacin: Niacin is an important B vitamin that helps to convert food to energy, aids with the digestive and nervous system, and helps the skin (6).
  • Manganese: Manganese is important for processing cholesterol, and nutrients like carbohydrates and protein (7).

Good Fats:  The unsaturated fat make-up of peanuts helps link them to a reduced risk of heart disease.  In fact, scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, including peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Fueling Up with Food

Nutrition experts agree that focusing on food is the best way to fuel and maintain an active life.  A good diet can give an added edge to any athlete.  Supplements may have a place, but good nutrition, along with adequate training, is the most important part of feeding performance.  Here are some tips to make the most of your pre- or post-workout snacks and meals:

  • Add two tablespoons of peanut butter to morning oatmeal with berries
  • Blend together plain yogurt, frozen banana, a splash of milk and two tablespoons of peanut flour or peanut butter with ice for a frothy protein rich smoothie
  • Mix GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) for a filling and nutrient packed snack with antioxidants, fiber and protein from the peanuts
  • Toss lightly salted peanuts on a salad filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables to add crunch and protein

References:

  1. Medline Plus. Vitamin E. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/vitamine.html.  Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  2. Medline Plus. Magnesium in the Diet. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002423.htm.  Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  3. Medline Plus. Folic Acid. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/folicacid.html. Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  4. Medline Plus. Copper in diet. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002419.htm.  Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  5. Medline Plus. Phosphorus in diet.  Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002424.htm.  Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  6. Medline Plus. Niacin. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002409.htm.  Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  7. Medline Plus. Manganese. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/182.html.  Accessed on October 17, 2012.
  8. Medline Plus. Protein in Diet. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002467.htm.  Accessed on October 18, 2012.
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