Olive Oil and the Athlete
The nutrient demands an athlete places on his or her body can be intense. Increased nourishment in order for any serious athlete to achieve their goal(s) is of vital importance. Olive oil as a source of energy, anti-oxidants, and recovery properties may just be the best thing a true athlete should consider in helping them achieve their goal(s).
Olive oil is a fat. We as a society tend to associate fats with heart disease and poor health. Fat always being a bad thing is not true and the thought of such a negative connotation between fats and health is the result of our terribly flawed health awareness. The discussion of fats and what constitutes a good fat and a bad fat is complex and beyond the scope of this article. Just know that olive oil is a fat and it is considered a good fat proven to contribute to heart health and longevity.
With that said, olive oil as a fat provides a source of energy to our bodies. Obviously this benefits an athlete as an increased draw on energy reserves is noticed during higher levels of activity.
As an athlete you can be sure that when consuming real 100% extra virgin olive oil from a trusted source you are truly fueling your body with a vital energy supply.
Hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol are some of the many phenol compounds in olive oil. There are as many as 5 mg of polyphenols in every 10 grams of olive oil. That is to say just one serving of olive oil gives you a powerful kick of antioxidants, which your body can use and absorb, virtually on the spot!
These flavenoid polyphenols (antioxidants) give olive oil its distinct taste but more importantly help combat the oxidative stress our bodies are constantly undergoing. With increased activity comes increase oxidation at the cellular level.
As an athlete, neglecting your nutrient needs of antioxidants can result in illness and injury. However for anybody not receiving the proper amount of antioxidants in their diet the potential for premature death and disease is the real concern.
A healthy diet with real extra virgin olive oil at its core can help provide anyone, active or not, with ample antioxidants.
During the time of rest and recovery an athlete is arguably making the most progress in their overall conditioning. This is when the body is in repair mode adapting to the increased activities and demands placed on body systems. This is when we get stronger so that the next day we can run a little further or faster than we did today. That’s the idea behind recovery. But if we don’t provide our body with the right environment during recovery we will fail to realize the full benefits of our athletic endeavors. Beyond simply providing antioxidants to our bodies, olive oil does amazing things to accommodate other bodily functions during the recovery process.
The Olive Oil Times mentions in an article titled Olive Oil, Athlete Go in Stride :
“Muscles take a beating during athletic training and events. Without adequate recovery, which includes repair, strengthening, and muscle building, no progress is gained. Olive oil steps it up in this role too. A 2009 study published in the journal Lipids, shows olive oil helps cells absorb cholesterol and convert it to testosterone better than other fat sources. Testosterone is critical to the body’s muscle building process as well as increasing energy levels.
Fats are also vital to the development, repair, and building of bone density which prevents and protects against fracture and injury. Olive oil in particular has the ideal make-up for bone health due to its unique combination of oleic acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids which work together to build bone tissue. This is vital for the athlete whose body is constantly in a state of work and recovery, allowing the body to regenerate and grow stronger.”
Also, olive oil naturally contains a chemical, oleocanthal, which research has shown can inhibit inflammation and pain as effective or more so than common anti-inflammatory pain-killing medications.