Healthy Fats for Athletes:
When it comes to training and performance, carbohydrates and protein often overshadow dietary fats. However, fats are important for many metabolic processes such as energy production, transportation of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) and play a key role in the synthesis of hormones.¹ Good choices include liquid at room temperature oils (olive oil, avocado oil), nuts, seeds, fatty fish and avocados. Saturated fat (fats solid at room temperature) should be limited and trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oil) should be avoided completely.¹
More recently, researchers have investigated the role of omega 3 fatty acids in reducing inflammation and muscle soreness. There are three types of omega 3 fats: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).² ALA is an essential fatty acid and needs to be consumed in the diet, while small amounts of EPA and DHA can be made in the body from ALA. It is recommended that men aim for about 1.6g ALA per day, while women aim for 1.1g ALA per day.² It has also been suggested that consuming EPA and DHA in 1-2g per day doses may help to decrease exercise induced inflammation.³
Food sources of Omega 3 include:
|Food||Portion Size||Amount ALA (grams)||Amount EPA/DHA (grams)|
|Edamame, cooked||125 mL||0.29-0.34||0|
|Soy beverage||250 mL||0.19||0|
|Eggs, cooked||2 eggs||0.06-0.28||0.07|
|Anchovies, canned with oil||75 grams||0.01||1.54|
|Cod, Pacific, cooked||75 grams||0.04||0.79|
|Oysters, Pacific, cooked||75 grams||0.05||1.04|
|Salmon, pink, cooked/canned/raw||75 grams||0.03-0.06||0.87-1.06|
|Tofu, cooked||150 grams||0.27-0.48||0|
|Chia seeds||15 mL||1.0||0|
|Flaxseed, ground||15 mL||2.46||0|
|Flaxseed oil||5 mL||2.58||0|
|Walnuts, English, Persian||60 mL||2.30||0|
Golden Beet Noodles with Feta Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds and Dried Cranberries
Makes about 4 side servings
** To make this recipe you will need a spiralizer (I have the OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer, $20 from Cook Culture – pictured to the right). You could also try using a grater to shred the beets.
4-5 medium golden beets
3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries (you could also use pomegranate seeds)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/4-1/2 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
- Using a spiralizer, prepare beets.
- Using kitchen scissors, snip beet noodles into bite sized pieces. Place into a large bowl.
- Combine the last 5 ingredients and mix together with the beet noodles. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
- Top with feta cheese, cranberries and pumpkin seeds before serving.
Sport nutrition for young athletes. Canadian Paediatric Society Website.
Published April 2, 2013. Accessed February 1, 2016.
Food Sources of Omega-3 Fats. Dietitians of Canada Website.
Omega-3-Fats.aspx. Published 2016. Accessed February 1, 2016.
Michleborough TD. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in physical
performance optimization. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013;23(1):8396.