As athletes, our lives are filled daily with mention of energy bars, gu, sports beans, and sports drinks that we often forget about real food. None of the above have enough sustenance to maintain our bodies for the long haul – they only serve as a quick fix in an emergency or when an energy boost is needed so what is real food?
My personal favorite before an early morning run or at any given time takes me back to my childhood. It’s the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This may get some questionable glances but hear me out. Peanut butter is the best sports food around and there’s a reason your Mother made you those sandwiches and served them up with milk. It’s tasty, inexpensive, satisfying, and nourishing. Ever wonder why you feel a burst of energy after a Snickers bar? It’s the peanuts, not the chocolate. Snickers realized this early and jumped on the energy bar band wagon before any candy bar.
Peanut butter is also a quick and easy way to reduce your risk of heart disease – so slap together a sandwich with your favorite jelly on multi-grain bread and you have the makings of a nutritious heart healthy meal.
Other benefits of peanut butter include:
A good source of calories – a hungry athlete needs 3,000 calories. You will spend a significant amount of money refueling yourself if you spend it on energy bars, gu, and other sports foods. Peanut butter is inexpensive and won’t break the bank, especially in this economy.
A great source of vitamins and minerals – it contains folate, vitamin E, magnesium, and resveratrol, all nutrients associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Magnesium is also associated with reduced risk of adult-onset diabetes. Peanut butter offers a small amount of zinc, a mineral important for healing and strengthening the immune system. As an athlete, you need all these nutrients to keep you off the bench and on the playing field.
However, peanut butter alone is a poor choice for muscle fuel. Combined with bananas, apples, oatmeal, crackers, raisins, and even pasta (Thai noodle dishes) you have the makings for a powerful super food that will take you a long way.