The ABCs of Sports Nutrition: Kidney Beans, Liver, Mackerel & Nut Butter


, by Renee McGregor

Photography by: NUM LPPHOTO

Throughout the last month, Renee McGregor has been running through the Sports Nutrition alphabet. Today we tackle the letters K, L, M, N (Kidney Beans, Liver, Mackerel & Nut Butter), and discuss some of the essential foods you should consider adding to your diet.

K is for….Kidney Beans

Beans and Pulses are a great nutritional choice for anyone who is active. Kidney beans are just one variety, but in themselves provide a great source of soluble fiber, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphates which are all necessary for body processes to occur optimally. In addition, they are low in fat and reasonably high in protein, making them particularly useful to vegetarians and vegans.

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The high fiber content is hugely beneficial for digestive health - studies have shown including a variety of beans and pulses in your diet can support your gut biome.

Nutrition tip: Drain a tin of kidney beans, mix it with chopped pepper, tomato, coriander, a squeeze of lime, and chili flakes for a nutrient-dense filling for a wholemeal pitta or wrap.

L is for….Liver

Photography by: Sea Wave

While this won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, you will not get a more concentrated source of iron, B vitamins, and Vitamin A.

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Iron is an important nutrient for all individuals who are physically very active. It is necessary for the efficient transport of oxygen around the body. When iron levels are low, it will hinder performance. Some sports, such as endurance running, actually result in the increased breakdown of red blood cells, enhancing the problem further. Liver is also one of the only sources of dietary Vitamin A, important for maintaining eye health. Pregnant women are the only exceptions and should not consume high intakes of Vitamin A.

Nutrition tip: try making a chicken liver pâté to have with oatcakes or on toast as a nutritious snack during the day.

M is for…Mackerel

Photography by: Vitals

Oily fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids have been linked to reduced inflammation in joints and muscles; heart health and fatigue. Physically active individuals should aim for at least two servings of oily fish per week.

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Mackerel is also a great source of zinc, which is necessary for optimal functioning of many of the body’s processes, including testosterone production. Low levels of zinc have been associated with poor muscle mass gains and loss of appetite in athletes.

Nutrition Tip: Try making this easy smoked mackerel dip that can be served with baked sweet potato and salad as a great recovery meal. Blend 2 smoked mackerel fillets with ½ juice of lemon and 80g cream cheese.

N is for….Nut Butter

Photography by: New Africa

Most athletes are surprised when I mention they can eat nut butter. Yes, it is high in fat, but it is a good fat that can provide you with other essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and Vitamin E. Nuts also provide protein so these can be very useful, particularly in vegan and vegetarian diets.

One thing to be mindful of is that they don’t make such a good choice post high-intensity training sessions as the fat content means that it slows down the absorption of protein needed for recovery. One way around this is to have a glass of milk first (soya if you are vegan) and then follow up with your nut butter.

The ABCs of Sports Nutrition - the series

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