If you're a meat-lover you can't do much better than venison. It contains more protein than any other red meat; essential for us endurance athletes for maintenance, repair and growth of lean muscle. Insufficient protein intake leads to prolonged recovery time and muscle weakness, counteracting the benefits of training. It also reduces immune function, meaning increased risk of infection (and winter lurgies!)
Venison is a rich source of iron (more so than beef, interestingly), especially useful for female runners where iron-deficiency anaemia is a common concern. It's packed full of energy-releasing B vits, zinc and phosphorus which helps strengthen bones. Vitamin E levels are also four times higher in grass-fed animals, an important antioxidant in combating oxidation caused by high volume training.
Venison is an extremely lean meat (due to the 'wild' nature of the beast!) and the fat contained within the meat contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid which has been shown in numerous studies to reduce fat mass whilst maintaining or improving lean mass (hence it is popularly taken in capsule form as a weight loss supplement).
Being sure you're eating top quality, well-sourced meat is a key consideration. I partner with a fantastic company called Field & Flower, to ensure my clients are eating the highest quality meat. For more on this and to receive a free month-long nutrition guide, visit www.sarahoneill.co.uk/field-flower
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Click Next Page for some delicious venison recipes.