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Pistachios: The Perfect Fuel for Athletes

Becci Twombley's picture
By: Becci Twombley : May 29, 2012

It is no coincidence that the Twitter handle for the American Pistachio Growers is @Pistachiopower. This little green nut houses many of the nutrients required to allow muscles to grow and repair as nature intended.

As a sports dietitian, it is my job to fuel athletes so that their body’s can repair quickly. The athletes of the US Olympic Waterpolo team can attest that they push themselves to the limit on a daily basis. It is through this intensity and dedication that their skill and fitness levels have evolved to be the best in the world yet it is the very same intensity and dedication that puts them at risk for overtraining injuries or fatigue. Proper fueling, pre, during and post exercise nutrition can prevent these circumstances from sidelining Americas Finest. This is why American Pistachios are the perfect snack for elite athletes AND weekend warriors.

Pistachios are high in three different kinds of antioxidants. This means the free radicals that are formed in muscle from contraction and relaxation during a workout can quickly be gathered and quarantined before they can cause damage to the surrounding tissues. Think of these free radicals as drunk drivers. They are rogue electrons that are released into our bodies as a result of cellular metabolism. If left alone, they will crash into the walls of our blood vessels and create small injuries resulting in inflammation. Enter antioxidants, beta-carotene, lutein and tocopherols! These heroic law enforcers capture these free radicals and arrest them for DUI before any damage can be done. This effectively reduces the soreness and recovery time that an athlete feels after a hard workout. What’s more is that these same antioxidants fight heart disease and have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

For the most benefit, pack a snack of 1oz of pistachios and plenty of water to be consumed within 30 min after your next workout. Follow this snack with a recovery meal within the hour that will replace lost muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) and provide the protein building blocks to continue repairing muscle.

Check back regularly for more nutrition tips and don’t forget to follow the US Waterpolo teams journey to London! Go USA!