Nico Zen on the benefits of spirulina.
We ask vegan super athlete Nico Pfitzenmaier, also known as Nico Zen, what his professional opinion is on how to take spirulina powder for optimal sports performance.
” Spirulina powder in my opinion is the most beneficial endurance Superfood. It has become my trusted ‘companion’ whilst training and racing…
It literally provides everything you need as an athlete:
As a vegan it has become my prime source of protein with 75% of its biomass being pure protein , which is three times more than beef. Spirulina’s protein is easily digested, assimilated and is more absorbable than beef protein. Hence it has a much higher net gain and creates less stress on the body during digestion.
When I do mountain bike races, I take spirulina tables, which I put into a small pop up lid container, in regular intervals. After the first intense phase of the race where the muscles get flooded with lactic acid, I take spirulina tablets to help buffer and alkalize the blood again. Its high mineral density helps to bring down the acidity levels in the body which gives you sense of feeling as if you hit a reset button, so you can keep pushing forward.
Interestingly, unlike other glycogen sources, spirulina’s glycogen content is immediately available to the human metabolism because it has the same nutrient profile as a human. Other starch and carbohydrates have to undergo a long process of “reconstruction” into glycogen, while drawing blood from the muscles into the digestive tract. If you use glucose or fructose instead, then you get a short rush which leaves you without the glycogen signal to the liver to provide more energy to your cells, resulting in unstable energy levels.
Another beautiful benefit of spirulina is that it helps build red blood cells.
Both choloropyll and hemoglobin belong to the same porphyrin pigment with almost the same chemical structure. The only difference is that the plant “blood” chlorophyll has magnesium in it’s core and hemoglobin in human blood has iron in it’s core. The similarity of the to structures enable a transformation of chlorophyll into hemoglobin in the human body.
Additional benefits are its antioxidants count – it contains a striking ORAC ( Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity ) value of 61900 which is one of the highest of any food. As you may know antioxidants fight harmful free radicals in the body and while training, free radicals get released in the body and impair our immune function, damages tissue, and generally weakens or destroys cells. Super oxide dismutase (SOD), an enzyme found in spirulina, helps as an antioxidant catalyst to get rid of free radicals, slow down inflammation and oxidative stress by reducing cellular damage, including DNA cell damage.