We're all looking for that extra edge to bring to our exercise regime. Sometimes we forget that the food we eat is arguably more important than the exercise itself. We need quality food to give us the energy to perform at our best. No matter what time of day you exercise, here are 10 foods that will help you have better workouts.
Blueberries: When people think of blueberries, they typically think of antioxidants. Did you know they help with muscle recovery? One study found that athletes who drank a blueberry smoothie experienced an improved rate of recovery 60 hours after exercise than those who drank a smoothie without blueberries.
Salmon: Salmon' Omega-3s support heart health and fight inflammation. These properties are important to recovery, making salmon a healthy option for a post-workout dinner.
Chocolate milk: Are you a devoted fan to sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade? Consider making the switch to chocolate milk after exercise. In one study, cyclists who drank chocolate milk during a break period between two hard sessions of cycling performed just as well or better than those who drank Gatorade or Endurox R4.
Yogurt: Yogurt has many health benefits. It serves as an excellent source of protein and has the right ratio of protein to carbohydrates. If you eat it while drinking water within an hour after exercise, it even helps improve hydration. Who knew?
Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are full of magnesium, which is an often overlooked source of energy. Many people struggle with including enough magnesium in their diets, so pumpkin seeds are a great source. Eat a handful before a workout for an extra boost in energy.
Peanut butter and bananas: Peanut butter and banana are a tried-and-true favorite. This tasty combination includes the perfect ratio of protein, carbohydrates, sugar and potassium. Try it on toast before a workout or in a smoothie with milk after your gym session.
Whole-grain cereal: Consuming whole-grain cereal before exercise gives you the extra boost you need to last a whole sweat session. You'll want to give your body enough time to digest after eating so you don't feel sluggish during your workout.
Sweet potatoes: High-intensity workouts require more carbohydrates than lower-impact activities such as yoga. Sweet potatoes are a great choice after high-intensity exercise because they have so many nutrients including Vitamin E and antioxidants.
Leafy greens: One of the drawbacks of exercise is the release of free radicals in the body. Free radicals have a bad rap because of their association with aging, cancer and even diabetes. Before you give up on exercise, add more leafy greens in your diet. Their antioxidants counter the free radicals' effects. The key is to eat them before you work out to maximize the benefits.
Hummus and pita: Hummus and whole-grain pita together provide the right combination of protein, fiber and carbohydrates to keep you going after exercise.
Many of these options serve as great pre- or post-workout snacks. If you want to improve your recovery, consider purchasing equipment such as stretching straps or a foam roller to help you recover faster. Whether you're looking for a pre-workout snack or nourishment after a challenging exercise session, there are plenty of healthy foods that will act as great fuel. It can be tempting to want unhealthy food after exercise because you feel like you've earned it. Stay strong! It' important to give your body what it needs to be ready for the next workout.