In the summer months, many people amp up their training programs to get ready for a big competition or swimsuit season. What I see often during these times, though, are clients who increase their training frequencies and/or intensities without properly fueling their bodies. That’s where nutrition comes into play. Not only can you have more power during your workouts by properly nourishing your body, but you will also have great muscle gains and repair by focusing on your recovery, too.
One superfood that I often recommend clients consider adding into their nutrition plan during this time are beautiful red strawberries. (After all, May is National Strawberry Month!) If you can get your hands on them year-round, by all means continue incorporating them on the reg, but they’re in abundance typically in the summer season and usually on sale, too.
First things first, did you know a 1-cup serving of strawberries (or about eight berries) provides the following:
- 110% Daily Value for vitamin C (96 milligrams)
- 8% Daily Value of folate (35 micrograms)
- 7% Daily Value of dietary fiber (2 grams)
- 4% Daily Value of potassium (170 milligrams)
- Rich source of phytochemicals
Besides their stellar vitamin C content (you can read more about why you need vitamin C in your workout routine in our Citrus Marinated Shrimp Salad recipe), the potassium content in the strawberry is definitely something to take note of.
Potassium is an important mineral and electrolyte that plays a prominent role (alongside sodium) in nerve transmission, muscle contraction and heart functioning. Each and every time you head into a workout, having the proper sodium-potassium balance is essential for performance.
However, what’s alarming is the fact that the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans found potassium to be underconsumed and a nutrient of concern, meaning this is definitely a nutrient that athletes specifically need to be aware of. (For reference, the Daily Reference Intake for adult men and women is 4,700 milligrams a day).
With strawberries being such a beneficial source of key nutrients that come into play for training and competition, Jenna Braddock, CSSD, founder of OffSeasonAthletes.com, suggests athletes consider incorporating them preworkout and postworkout. “Strawberries contain some carbohydrates, which can help fuel a workout and the recovery period,” she says. “Beyond that, the nutrient profile suggests it could be very beneficial for supporting optimal recovery both because of the vitamin C and the other polyphenols.”
Braddock recommends trying an eight-strawberry serving before or after workouts or competition and observing how your body responds. “If it contributes to good energy and a great workout by eating it before, then consider that one of your “power food” options,” she says. “Or try strawberries as part of a recovery snack and pair with a protein source and [potentially] additional carbohydrates.”
A key component to experimenting with any new fueling food is to test your tolerance. Use a light workout day to try the strawberries and take note of how your body responds. The best way to include the strawberry superfood is one that agrees with your body specifically.
One way to focus on getting your potassium in is to consider adding a smoothie like this potassium powerhouse strawberry banana smoothie below. This nutrient-packed combination provides nearly 20 percent of your daily needs and makes a terrific postworkout snack to enjoy.
If for some reason the fresh berries aren’t yet in season at your market, Braddock reminds us that frozen strawberries are an excellent option to include, as well. “Frozen strawberries maintain their nutritional value and allow you to enjoy them year-round,” she says.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, looks like we’ve got a new smoothie recipe that’s right for us all! Now who’s ready to dive in?
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Tags: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free; Dairy-Free/Vegan Option
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
• 1 small (3 oz) frozen banana
• 1 cup strawberries, halved, stems removed
• ½ cup 2% milk
• ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
• 3 ice cubes
• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
1. To a blender, add all ingredients.
Note: To make this smoothie dairy-free and vegan, substitute a plant-based milk and consider replacing the yogurt with a plant-based protein powder to increase the total protein content of the smoothie.
Serving Suggestions: Pair with a hard-boiled egg and mashed avocado over whole-grain toast for a complete meal.