On Feb. 25, one of the most punishing events in the action sports calendar unfolded: the Sahara Marathon. Set in Al Ayoun, Algeria, the event was complete with a piles of stones, flags and other makeshift markers.
The unforgiving 42km length of the main marathon and the inevitable blistering heat causes competitors to utilize any endurance supplements they can for some extra kick.
Let’s take a look at 3 amazing foods and juices that can help you increase your endurance and energy naturally.
Many athletes of all stripes swear by ginseng. The herb with a touch of mystique has been deployed for about 2,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Ginseng certainly sounds more exciting than a conventional energy booster like plain old protein.
Champions of the herb say it turbocharges your energy levels, speeds recovery from illness or injury, curbs stress and more. Ginseng seems truly deserving of the description “wonderherb.” Here’s some science.
Mixed with some vitamins and minerals, ginseng was found to ease fatigue in a Mayo Clinic double-blind trial. If you want to test ginseng’s seemingly miraculous power, be choosy – go for “Panax” (Greek for “all-heal”) or Korean ginseng, which should be rich in the compounds said to increase endurance and give you more oomph.
The active ingredient is thought to be steroid-like components called ginsenosides. Despite its Asian image, the power plant grows freely in woods in the eastern United States. Native American tribes harvested Panax root to formulate tonics and treat headaches and fever: further evidence of the effectiveness of the “adaptogen”.
That is, a natural substance that works through the adrenal glands to produce adjustments in the body that boost resistance to everyone’s bugbear, stress. It may not taste fantastic, but live with it – in light of all ginseng’s benefits the downside is a small price to pay.
2. Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice has rather less glamour about it than exotic ginseng. And some would say it tastes even worse. But do not underestimate the power of the blood-colored fluid.
In studies run by Exeter University in the UK, researchers found cyclists who drank a half-liter of beetroot juice several hours before hitting the saddle rode up to 16 per cent longer than riders who drank a blackcurrant juice placebo.
Note that statistic again: 16 percent longer. That is an awful lot more headway. Whether you could even get that kind of energy jolt from necking a string of espressos is unlikely.
The scientists concentrated on eight men aged 19-38, who took 500 ml per day of organic beetroot juice for six days in a row before doing a series of tests, involving exercise bike pedaling.
In a plus, the group that had been given the beetroot juice also boasted lower resting blood pressure.
Talking to the BBC, study researcher Professor Andy Jones said it all: “We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training.”
When was the last time you read of a scientist expressing amazement?
Despite the reddish-purple fluid’s dubious taste, it must contain something special. Apparently its endurance supplement secret is its nitrate-rich nature.
3. Coconut Water
Coconut water straight out of the husk is less bland than you might think. The delicious liquid teed up so neatly by nature for us to drink seems to be blessed with miraculous properties.
According to a scientific study conducted by US researchers, coconut water hosts five times as much potassium as a popular fitness drink.
Hold that thought – besides tasting divine, coconut water contains five times more potassium than a designer sports drink laced with the substance.
Potassium matters because, when you exercise or engage in strenuous sports, you bleed electrolytes like potassium as you sweat.
The lost electrolytes need replacing. What nicer way of replacing them than by taking a swig of the natural nectar?
Coconut water packs calcium, iron and chloride, which all work together to help you increase endurance. Better yet, the natural electrolyte and isotonic beverage is a gunk-free, cheap and refreshing endurance supplement.
Dubbed ”nature’s energy drink” and “the ultimate sports drink”, coconut water proves that energy supplements need not be nasty.
Kiss goodbye to caffeinated energy drinks and increasingly reviled sugary sodas because coconut water has you covered and is much more enticing than that dull but worthy staple, water. Good health.
Let us know if you have any other natural supplements that help you do more when energy and endurance are pushed to the limit.