Whether you run the Beach to Beacon every year, have just signed up for your first marathon, or are starting a new fitness routine, there are a number of local restaurants that offer healthy food to enhance your performance and help you fuel and recharge before and after a workout.
GET A SHOT OF GINGER Jacqueline Bradley, owner of Mojo Health Bar in Cape Elizabeth, serves one up.
Portland is well known for deliciously fatty foods (think burritos, poutine, and burgers) but there are options for healthy eating too. The Green Elephant, Local Sprouts Cooperative, and Fit to Eat are known for their organic and vegetarian fare. The Maine Squeeze and the opening-soon Roost House of Juice will cater to your juice and smoothie needs. Flatbread Pizza touts organic local pies; and Silly's has an array of gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian menu items.
Brian Leighton, a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Planet Fitness on Marginal Way, says if people are looking to build muscle or lose weight, how you fuel your body is as important as exercise itself. "Diet is 70 percent of the game," he says.
To prepare for a strength workout Leighton recommends consuming lean proteins and complex carbohydrates (fish and a leafy green salad), and after a rigorous body conditioning session he suggests refueling the body with more carbohydrates and protein. Although he prepares his own food, Leighton says "any restaurant that is known for cooking organic, whole foods" is a good place to eat.
For those training for a marathon, triathlon, or other long-distance physical competition, Doug Welling, a coach with the Maine Running Academy and the Sustainable Athlete, says carbohydrate intake is an important factor in endurance training as a way to fuel, to maintain energy, and to recharge the body after a long run.
He says runners should avoid simple starchy sugars and ingest more whole and organic foods to provide energy and more stable blood-sugar levels. And while running can suppress the hunger stimulus (making it challenging to replace calories after a long run) "a smoothie works well for a post-workout refuel" as a way to get fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes back in the body, he says.
Jacqueline Bradley, owner of Mojo Health Bar in Cape Elizabeth, says her clientele includes athletes, teens, and people looking to increase their overall health. Her juice and smoothie bar attracts area cyclists, swimmers, and runners as well as parents looking to make good choices for their children.
Those training for a competition often purchase ginger shots or juiced beet drinks, which Bradley says have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve athletic performance and endurance. After races or training, athletes often order protein smoothies to help rebuild and replenish muscles.
"Across the board people are starting to choose smoothies and juices as an alternative to caffeine and even ice cream," she says. "(These drinks) are absolutely for everyone. Athletes will home in on particular vegetables that are good for them but on a whole anyone who incorporates juicing and smoothies into their diets, they're packing their bodies full of nutrients which is the best thing they can do for themselves," Bradley says.