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on Omega-3 steps to Ultimate Foodie Domination

October 29, 2010

In the past few months, I’ve been working on my nutrition coaching certification from the great guys at Precision Nutrition, and just wanted to share a few small steps you can take towards “Ultimate Foodie Domination.”

But just what does that mean? I’m not quite sure, but we can both agree that you not only are what you eat, you become what you eat quite literally as your cells and soft tissues get replaced bit by bit.

Not only that, but think about it this way, if I told you that you could increase your top speed by 10% in 6-8 weeks, that sounds like a good thing right? Well, one way to do this would to be improve your running form/economy, and/or include strength training to make better use of the muscles you already have. Another way to do this would be to drop a bit of less-than-necessary body fat: in other words, to change your body composition.

In recent blog posts, whether on 10s toughness or the inner/mental game of Ultimate, we’ve looked at the role of the mind in high level play. But let’s not forget that the brain consumes a large fraction of the available blood sugar supply coursing through your veins, and that the more efficient/effective your brain is, the better you’ll play at the end of a long tourney day.

In this blog post I won’t cover day-of tourney nutrition–perhaps I’ll ask sports medicine doc Jamie Nuwer for a guest blog post, but rather focus on what you can do in the days and months leading up to your next tournament.

So, let’s keep it simple, with nods and thanks to Dan John and Dr. John Berardi / PrecisionNutrition.com.

“Omega-3 steps to Ultimate Foodie Domination”

Step 1. Eat a complete, lean protein source at every meal

Plenty of athletes and Americans miss this, going instead for simple carbs up the wazoo with no greens or veggies to speak of. (Step 0 should really be eat your greens, but I think y’all know that, so instead step 0 might be get your greens+ if you aren’t a veggie kind of girl/gal/guy.

If you ask your local, neighborhood, skinny non-athlete nutritionist, they’ll tell you that vegetarians (but not necessarily vegans) shouldn’t worry about protein, and that you can eat too much. While this can be true, it also misses other factors such as nutrient timing, feeding frequency, and the general up-in-the-airness of how important it is to consume complete protein sources at regular intervals.

That said, it’s a great heuristic, and some simple suggestions might be:

a) half-egg half-egg-white omelettes with spinach

b) pre-soaked irish steel cut oatmeal, cooked, and *then* mixed with whey protein (don’t mix in the whey before!! like my friend Jessie, ahem)

c) top sirloin steak with onions prepped in balsamic

(see PN’s Gourmet Nutrition for more!)

Moving on.

Step 2. Consume simple carbs mainly before/after exercise

Of course, this advice may differ on a tournament week (carb loading), or depending on your ecto/endo/meso body type, and so on. But the point is that breads/pasta/grains are encouraged to be eaten a few hours before practice/exercise or immediately after the event.

But enough on carbs, except to say that I think the IF (intermittent fasting) WD (Warrior Diet) heuristic for meals is pretty neat: eat greens, protein, and carbs in that order at dinner. You’ll make sure there IS something green & proteinacious, but fill out/up preferentially on those.

Step 3. Take 1-2 Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements, fish oil if possible, at every meal

You might note that this is slightly higher than some recommend, but a number of doctors now recommend this slightly higher dose. If you take a look at this InformationIsBeautiful visualization of the research support for various supplements, you’ll see that fish oil is consistently a highly recommended supplement over many peer-reviewed scientific studies as well as meta-analyses. In fact, there have been studies stopped because to deny fish oil to the control group was considered unethical (!).

But why fish oil? And why at every meal? For Ultimate athletes, controlling inflammation is the name of the game, and even if you don’t think you are inflammed, your body is still healing from injury, stress, training and the like, and the lower your generally inflammation levels are, the faster you will recover & play next time. (Particularly inflammed? I’ve had good results with Zyflamend.)

Not only that, but fish oil has cardiovascular and mental/mood health benefits, which are of useful wherever you play on the field.


Drilling down, fish oil has a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. To boil it down, science suggests that you want a high Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio. In other words, more Omega-3 (fish oil) and less Omega-6 (corn oil #fail).

Interestingly, while there are botanical sources of Omega-3, “the Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that ‘the omega-3s that FDA considers healthful (DHA and EPA) are not found in plants such as flax seed.’ [121]” to cite ye old Wikipedia.

Within those sources, however, not many know that chia seeds have more Omega-3 than flax seeds, and don’t need to be ground. In fact, inspired by the Taruhumara tribe storied in Born To Run, who regularly run hundreds of miles for fun & carry chia seeds with them along the way (Aztecs valued chia seed over gold, per unit weight, understandably!), I’ve starting trying out chia fresca in tournaments.

And while I don’t yet have Invisible Shoe Taruhumara cleats just yet (will have to make do with Nike Air “Huraches”), I think chia is well worth investigating as a micronutrient source during day-of tournaments. Another unexpected source of Omega-3 might be Wakame, which one source suggests has the highest veggie source of Omega-3:Omega-6 (18:1), compared to corn oil which has the _opposite_ 45:1 O-6 to O-3 (at least according to that one source).

DHA/EPA/Hg debates aside, I do think that regular supplementation of fish oil for non-vegetarians makes a heck of a lot of sense, and you can read dozens of books / hundreds of journal articles on the topic if you’d like (I started with the Omega-3 connection), & feel free to post interesting chia / wakame articles/links in the comments section.

So there you go. Omega-3 steps to domination!

Step 1. Eat a complete, lean protein source at every meal.

Step 2. Consume simple carbs mainly before/after exercise

Step 3. Take 1-2 Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements, fish oil if possible, at every meal

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Leslie Wu permalink
    October 31, 2010 7:58 pm

    A good Omega-3 review from PrecisionNutrition:

    http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-o3s-work

  2. November 11, 2010 3:03 pm

    THanks for information!

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  4. May 12, 2011 4:41 am

    I love to make a desert pudding of coconut milk with chia seeds then add whatever else you want – goji berries, mixed nuts, cocao powder, vanilla essence, maca. Sometimes I let it set over night then serve it with raw cream poured all over it with raw nuts and blueberries!!! awesome!!

  5. philippedrolet853 permalink
    July 15, 2011 3:03 pm

    Hi Leslie, thanks for providing a well-written article full on information.

    I have a question for you. I’ve been experimenting with high doses of omega 3’s (about 5 fish oil capsule with every meal) and chia in my morning smoothie. I train in brazilian jiu jitsu which is quite demanding, and I’ve noticed that my recovery has increased tremendously.
    Do you know if there is any research as to what the optimal omega 3 consumption for athletes?

    I vaguely remember seeing a video with Charles Poliquin where he talked about body builders taking 40 capsules of fish oil a day!)

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