I'm always searching for ways I can naturally boost performance.
Whether it's in the gym, at work or in my every day life, I try to set aside time to research and self experiment with different foods, supplements and habits to find ways to level up faster.
In fact, improving performance is one of the main reasons we created Vivo Life in the first place. We wanted to provide people around the world who share our values and ethics with the best tools to improve physically and mentally, and become higher performance versions of themselves.
This is the ethos behind our motto: For The Living. It's our commitment to helping people live the most awesome life possible, whilst having respect for the earth and all Living beings that we share it with.
We recommend a plant based diet because:
- It's a dope way to live more consciously and protect our planet
- It's also pretty awesome for performance. See how it's all connected?
When your diet is made up of wholesome, plant based foods, virtually everything you eat can be considered a 'performance booster.'
But there are certain foods that I keep coming back to that I notice really give me an extra edge.
Try adding these 10 to your diet and level up your performance faster than ever!
Top 10 Plant-based Performance Boosting foods
I feel like every article I write these days mentions turmeric in some way. This one’s not going to be any different.
This earthy, bright yellow spice contains the incredibly potent antioxidant curcumin, known for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to lower inflammation, reduce pain in the joints, prevent against and improve the symptoms of arthritis3, improve insulin tolerance, increase blood flow, and even protect against various cancers.
Turmeric can be enjoyed in a number of ways; use it in curries, as a seasoning, or even add it to smoothies. It’s also a key ingredient in our protein powder, PERFORM, to help improve recovery after your workouts.
Bananas are nature's energy bar. They're cheap, portable, and can easily be thrown in your gym bag for a glycogen replenishing post workout snack!
The world's most popular fruit is best known for its potassium content, but they are also great sources of the energy boosting vitamin B6, along with essential minerals manganese and copper. Chuck them in a smoothie or eat them straight up!
3) Gotu Kola
One of my favourite herbs in the world, Gotu Kola is a mental performance booster renowned for it's ability to improve concentration and memory. It has been used for thousands of years as part of traditional Ayurvedic practice, and in its native India is prescribed to business men and women, and students revising for exams!
Without geeking out too much, gotu kola has been shown to stimulate an increase in the growth of neurones in the brain. It does this by activating a class of proteins called MAPKs, which cause a release in growth factor for neurons called Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
Still with me?
Gotu Kola has also been shown to be particularly effective in older adults. In a 6 month randomised, placebo controlled study conducted on healthy adults over 45, Gotu Kola supplementation was shown to enhance working memory and even improve mood.
We include Gotu Kola in our THRIVE Mulitnutrituent to enhance cognition and leave you feeling your most mentally productive all day.
Beets are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, but they also stand up from a performance point of view too. This is because compounds found in beetroot have been shown to increase the conversion of nitrates to nitric oxide in the blood, which in turn improves output when performing high intensity exercise.
In a study published in the American Journal of Applied Physiology, subjects who drank beetroot juice prior to exercise were able to continue for an average of 16% longer than those who didn’t. Not bad, huh?
Since the days of the ancient Incan warriors, maca has been used as a natural performance booster. As it turns out, they were on to something pretty good.
In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Ethnopharmacology, a group of male cyclists were split into two sub groups – one of which was given maca, the other a placebo. The cyclists who consumed the maca increased their time faster than the ones who got the placebo.
And, a separate clinical review of maca also noted it’s ability to improve energy levels and mood in a range of subjects, both male and female.
Try a teaspoon of gelatinised maca in your pre-workout smoothie. It tastes amazing and you’ll feel an instant performance boost, too.
6) Himalayan Salt
As an athlete, a high quality salt is one of the cheapest and most effective performance enhancers you can add to your diet.
Sodium drives muscular contractions, regulates your fluid balance, and allows your nerves to send impulses through your body. It also assists in the absorption of other minerals such as magnesium and potassium, and plays an important role in digestion.
Sodium is lost through sweat; so if you sweat more than the average human, you’re going to need more salt. If you're training hard, this will probably be the case for you.
And if you want better workouts, a better pump, greater nutrient absorption and less water retention, you’re going to benefit from an extra pinch of Himalayan salt!
7) Acai Berry
Acai is one of the few foods that helps to boost both mental AND physical performance at the same time. It is rich in essential fatty acids omega 3, 6 and 9, which are essential for brain health and cognition. They also help to improve joint and cardiovascular health, so are great for endurance athletes such as runners or cyclists.
Acai is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and is packed with antioxidants, making it a great way to fight the damage caused by intense exercise. These are just some of the reasons why we've included it in our Acai & Blueberry PERFORM!
Matcha is well known for being the most powerful form of green tea, thought to contain up to ten times the antioxidants of the ‘regular’ kind. There’s no denying the benefits of matcha from a health point of view, but did you know it can serve as a powerful performance booster, too?
Matcha Green Tea is great as a pre workout energy boost, particularly as an alternative to coffee. This is because it contains the stimulatory benefits of caffeine, alongside the amino acid L-theanine that helps to prevent the crash. L-theanine also increases levels of dopamine in the brain.
Both green tea and matcha are also well known fat burners, with controlled trials demonstrating it’s unique ability to boost metabolic rate and enhance fat oxidation.
If you’re looking to get lean, get focused or get energised, definitely recommend giving matcha a try.
Simple. Humble. Effective. Potatoes are one of the most nutrient dense carb sources on the planet and are packed with potassium and energy boosting B vitamins. Mash them, bake them, boil them or roast them. Just make sure you're eating them.
10) Coconut Water
Coconut water is often called 'Nature's Sports Drink' thanks to the high concentration of electrolytes. These electrolytes play a key role in hydration, making them ideal for anyone with a high sweat rate. In fact, coconut water is so hydrating it was used as an IV drip during the Vietnam war!
If you want the electrolytes of coconut water without the sugar, you can use a freeze dried coconut water power (like this one.)
Now let me know... what are your favourite plant based performance boosters?
If you're struggling for ideas on performance boosting meal ideas, check out our FREE muscle building eBook!