As a Spartan racer, you’re faced with dueling needs: endurance and strength are both huge factors of success in the races, and recovering between your efforts is key. While your workouts are important, how you’re fueling during and between each session is equally important if you hope to make it through a race. That’s why the Spartan Race Series has a nutrition credo that they hope racers will live by: "Diets should focus on the seasonality, sustainability, availability, and affordability of foods, while considering their nutrient density, taste and environmental impact.”
There’s one simple addition to your nutrition plan that can keep you racing — and healthier throughout the process. For a long time, the spirulina algae has been accepted as a powerful superfood for athletes: the Spartan Race Series even recommends using it as a supplemental source for vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and essential amino acids.
In fact, Fred Bisci Head of the Spartan Race Nutritional/Lifestyle Advisory Board said in a 2017 interview, "I eat sprouts just about every day and I include seaweeds in my life. I believe in eating a variety of different raw foods.”
It’s tempting to rely heavily on bars, powders, pills and other processed foods to hit your calorie needs. But what if you could swap all of that for a single serving of a one-ingredient addition to your morning smoothie? SP2, a fresh, tasteless form of spirulina, can be popped into any juice or smoothie (or even water!) to give you a dose of protein—almost 5 grams per 27-calorie serving—plus other essential nutrients.
Adding SP2 Life anytime throughout the day packs an antioxidant-filled punch that can help athletes avoid inflammation and keep their immune systems functioning in top shape as competition is looming. Post-workout, you shouldn’t be relying on a stop at a Starbucks to power up an afternoon with a latte and a cookie. A pre-mixed smoothie waiting for you in the fridge when you get back from your two hour training run, packed with vitamins and antioxidants thanks to SP2, will leave you more satiated, and in a better nutritional place.
The seaweed-y superfood is great for everyone, and athletes, in particular, should be indulging on the daily. Studies have shown that there is more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in 3 grams of spirulina than in five servings of fruits and vegetables—so if you have trouble eating massive salads every day, this is a great way to sneak in a nutrient-dense substitute without changing much of your daily intake.
For Spartan racers, the full range of B vitamins in each serving, plus 5100 percent more iron than spinach, mean that it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world. As an athlete, B12 is essential to performance: If you’re low on that, or on iron, you’ll likely feel weak and fatigued—not at the top of your game.
It also provides you with all of the essential amino acids you need, including the hard-to-find leucine. Those amino acids are the protein building blocks that you need for optimal recovery. As you race—especially in something like a Spartan race with loads of high-intensity efforts—your muscles break down and tear, which is a good thing and necessary for growth… But without enough essential amino acids, they can’t recover or grow. That’s how endurance and strength training athletes get into trouble, and that’s where Spartan racers really need to pay attention to their daily diets.
Athletes racing in Spartan conditions—literally—are also more susceptible to colds. When races include huge efforts and occasionally, exposure to bad weather, it’s easy to end up in a never-ending cycle of lingering colds and sore throats. A review of literature around spirulina has suggested that the benefits include building immunity and improving resistance to viral infections. That means less down time while you recover from colds, and more time spent on the trails.
The last piece of the puzzle comes from the Spartan nutrition credo: sustainability and environmental impact are both mentioned even ahead of nutrient density on their site, and for good reason. What’s good for the planet is likely good for you, and spirulina is arguably one of the best examples of this. Even as far back as 1974, the United Nations named spirulina one of the best foods for the future, and in the last decade, more and more work is being done to reevaluate the potential of spirulina to fulfill nations' food security needs and to develop emergency response efforts.
SP2 fresh spirulina is grown in Israel by AlgaeMor in controlled, non-GMO and pesticide-free conditions. Their process emphasizes the quality and safety of food, from the level of the best raw materials and high water quality, through the sanitary conditions and monitoring of the cultures and growth in the greenhouses. With no carbon footprint to crop production, and less water usage in growth than is needed to water most vegetable crops, spirulina is easily one of the most eco-friendly foods in the world. Minimal labor is required for harvesting it, and the entirety of the harvested spirulina is used, unlike other fruit and vegetable crops. That’s why SP2 has its name: Sustainable Protein.
So keep your nutrition simple and, as the Spartan Race Series also suggests, focused on real, whole foods that will fuel your training and racing. SP2 is easy to add to your day: it's packaged fresh and shipped frozen, and thanks to the raw, fresh processing, it’s taste- and odorless. But more importantly, the frozen form provides 150 percent more nutritional value than dried spirulina options, and has an absorption rate of 95 percent. In single-serve cube form, you just pop one out each day and slip it into a drink in the morning or post-workout for a nutrient-packed punch. And how easy is that?
Make your adventure count with improved recovery and an easier way to eat smart every single day. Buy SP2 Spirulina today.
Molly Hurford is a runner, cyclist and health & fitness journalist, running her site TheOutdoorEdit.com as well as The Consummate Athlete Podcast, which she co-hosts with her equally active husband. When they aren't on the trails, she teaches yoga and works to get more women and girls out riding bikes and having fun outside! Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter @mollyjhurford