This article originally appeared in Triathlon Magazine Canada
Throughout the past 10 years, spirulina has become an increasingly popular food for athletes. Way back in 1974, at the World Food Conference of the United Nations, spirulina was named the best food for the future. The cyanobacterium is an excellent source of protein and several micronutrients. 60-70% of its dry weight (dehydrated) is protein and the rest is carbohydrates and vitamins – beta-carotene, vitamin C and E and minerals such as iron, calcium, chromium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
Spirulina is so dense in nutrients that NASA has calculated that one kilogram of spirulina contains just as many nutrients as a thousand kilograms of fruits and vegetables. (Making it an ideal food source for space missions.) Spirulina is available in capsule, powder and even frozen form.
The benefits of spirulina
- Reduction of total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
- Antioxidant properties
- Source of iron and other minerals
- Source of vitamin B12 and other vitamins
- Source of protein
- Preventive effect on muscle breakdown and increased performance during a test until exhaustion
- Increase in fat oxidation
Because of spirulina’s high source of protein, it’s an ideal post-workout snack. In powder form, you can easily add spirulina to smoothies or homemade energy balls.
Green smoothie with spirulina
- 1 cup of almond milk or other vegetable milk
- 1 tablespoon of almond butter
- 1 teaspoon of hemp seeds
- ½ teaspoon of spirulina powder
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 bananas
Energy balls with spirulina
- 1/2 cup of pecan
- 3/4 cup of oats
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of spirulina
- 1 cup of dates
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or almonds
Since spirulina is high in protein, it’s an ideal snack after a workout to promote recovery. It’s also a great way to start the day with a protein and natural smoothie.