Happy Monday!  This week’s column, though short and to the point is actually very appropriate for the time of year.  I am full into my pre-season training routine at the gym.  Whether you play volleyball, another sport, or are already thinking about that 2015 summer beach body, here are some tips and additions to consider for getting in the best shape ever!

*Of course, the number one thing you can do for increased endurance and muscle tone is to work out!  Nothing replaces working out if you want to tone muscles and increase your endurance.

So your primary concern isn’t losing weight, or gaining weight necessarily, but simply getting in the best shape you can be?  There are some foods and herbs which will help you along the way:

Green foods and super greens powders.  While there is still a lot to learn about the specific mechanisms and effects of chlorophyll-rich green foods inside our body, we know that they tend to nourish and have a tonifying effect on our respiratory system.  That’s good news for any training goals.  I have been using super greens, whole-food powders for years.  Maybe it’s the increased mineral content, maybe it’s the alkalinity which combats muscle fatigue, or the neutralization of lactic acid once breakdown has occurred.

Recovery is just as important to an increase in endurance and muscle tone.  Our body craves consistency.  Creating a recovery routine will help to signal our body that it’s time to repair.  Human growth hormone is secreted at its highest levels for 15-45 minutes after we work out.  This is probably the most important hormone for repair.  If you eat or consume any significant calories that require digestion, you’re actually shutting down HGH production.  Hydrate first!  Relax after your workout.  Let your body do its thing.

Alkalinity is important to combatting lactic acid fatigue which will help your muscles repair faster.  Super greens are great for that.  Also, mineral/electrolyte recovery drinks (WITHOUT SUGAR) are alkaline due to their mineral content.  The sugary sports drinks are naturally acidic, which would make them less effective for ideal recovery protocol.  I recommend something with stevia to avoid the chemical cocktail of artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame.

There is a good amount of evidence from studies that suggest endurance athletes actually require more protein than body builders.  The “1 gram of protein per pound of body weight” myths floating around aren’t supported by anything.  Just a pitch to sell more product in my opinion.  2/3 of a gram of protein per pound of body weight is the highest end of the scale requirement for endurance athletes.

To finish with some philosophical and herbal suggestions.  There are many herbs and super foods from indigenous medicinal systems around the world which have a long, safe history of use and association with endurance and long-lasting energy.

Gynostemma, rhemannia, ginseng, chia seeds, maca and shilajit are some of my favorites along with omega 3s of course.

I love high-elevation foods for endurance training.  Seen those people at the gym with the masks which restrict breathable oxygen intake?  Kind of like living in the mountains where the air is thinner and there is less oxygen than at sea level.  Mountain-dwelling cultures are adapted to use oxygen more efficiently, so for a short time at sea level, they will have higher blood counts and oxygenation levels in their blood.

I like to consume the super foods and herbs from above that these cultures find valuable.  I have found them to be excellent additions to my endurance training routines.  The philosophy behind that is that “nature always provides” solutions in each type of ecosystem.  I want to train smarter, and therefore include the foods and herbs which have a natural benefit to endurance training along with my workouts.

Next week, some interesting tips on putting on muscle besides eating a whole cow everyday.