Not all of you are athletes or regular exercisers I know. But if you are, then this traditional Salade Nicoise, with the addition or swap-out of sweet potato for the plain potato, is a post-workout winner.
Sport nutrition, which can also be called exercise nutrition, is the application of nutrition principles for the purpose of improving training, recovery, and performance. Exercise and sport nutrition reflects the close relationship between the academic fields of exercise physiology and nutrition.
I taught sport and exercise nutrition for a number of years at the University of Waikato, but back then, there was very little knowledge and emphasis on the needs of midlife women going through menopause. Whilst many of the strategies are the same as younger female exercisers or athletes, there are a number of factors that are unique to the needs of women transitioning menopause. These include:
- the stage of menopause women are in and their iron needs, i.e. if women are still menstruating during peri-menopause and menopause compared to post-menopause.
- the need for greater intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients from food.
- the need for foods that provide specific nutrients to help the ageing heart, muscles and blood vessels. This includes calcium which is necessary for muscle and nerve action in the body.
- whether women are experiencing gut health concerns – this can impact the absorption of nutrients, which may be compromised.
- protein intake and effect of nitrogen secretion on ageing kidneys.
Proper nutrition and fueling/hydration are critical to the body’s ability to withstand training stressors, while keeping the body in good health as women age. Not only does this include the type of food, but also the amount of food, especially when it comes to healthy carbohydrates.
The traditional Salade Nicoise originated in Nice, in the south of France. That’s where I tasted my very first one too. I still remember the incredible combination of ingredients from the salty anchovies to the texture of the tuna and crunchiness of the beans. Delicious.
I love this recipe for a post-workout recovery, because it is rich in carbohydrates, healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil and olives) and protein from the tuna or anchovies and a few hard-boiled eggs. Traditionally, it is made of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and anchovies or tuna, dressed with olive oil, or in some historical versions, a vinaigrette.
The influence of nutrients on our ability to continue as exercisers or athletes as we age is an important one. And whilst sports nutrition can be very technical, depending on the type of sport or exercise and whether women are competing or not or whether they have to make a certain weight (such as in competitive body-building), the basic intake to focus on should be as follows:
- Carbohydrate intake should be at least 5 to 7 gms/kg of body weight but if you are an endurance exerciser, you may need more than this up to 9 gms/kg of body weight. Carbohydrate intake post-exercise helps your muscles and liver to store the glucose that has been used up during your training or competitions.
- Protein requirements differ depending on the sport or exercise. Ranging from 1.0 gms/kg/day for health, some Trainers and Nutritionists like their athletes to go up to 2.0 gms/kg/day but this can be a heavy load for your kidneys and gut, so check with your Sports Nutritionist and see how well you tolerate a high protein intake because many calculations are based on younger, male athletes.
- Fats are also important to the exercising or sporting woman going through menopause, especially if they are still menstruating. Too much fat however, especially saturated animal fats, may place unprecedented load on the ageing liver and gallbladder. It’s why I love the healthy, anti-inflammatory extra virgin olive oil and the olives used in this Salade Nicoise.
I encourage you to try this recipe, whether you are an exerciser or athlete or not.
Makes enough for 2 people
- 2 sweet potatoes
- A handful of green beans
- 2 eggs
- Half an iceberg lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes
- 1 can of tuna (or fresh)
- Anchovies (optional)
1 garlic glove
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
- Heat oven to 180 Celsius. Chop the sweet potato into small cubes and bake in the oven until cooked through (approximately 25 minutes).
- While the sweet potato is cooking, fry the beans in a pan, with a dash of olive oil, on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile boil a pot of water (about an inch above the height of the eggs). Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and place the eggs in. Cook for approximately 7 minutes, then transfer to a bowl of iced water to cool. Drain the eggs, then peel and halve them.
- Dressing: Peel the garlic, and smash it under your knife, then chop into small pieces. Combine the garlic, mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl and stir.
- Place the chopped lettuce, tomatoes, tuna, olives sweet potato, eggs and beans into a salad bowl, and then stir the dressing through.