Why not do everything in your power to fuel your workout in the most healthy fashion – both helping you feel stronger while you exercise and help you recover the most quickly – reducing soreness and making your feel ready for your next session!
Here are some tips from Women’s Health Magazine – the best foods you can (and should) add into your diet to help you workout longer & stronger and recovery faster:
1. Avocados: The cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat in these green health bombs can help keep your body strong and pain free – not only helping you recover more quickly, but also helping with injury-prevention. University of Buffalo researchers found that competitive women runners who ate less than 20 percent fat were more likely to suffer injuries than those who consumed at least 31 percent. Turns out, diets that are too low in fat can weaken both your muscles and joints – but always focus on healthy fats!
2. Bananas: we recently mentioned on our Facebook page that bananas might be a near-perfect workout recovery snack, and can even fuel your workout better than most energy drinks! Turns out, the potassium in bananas might also be the perfect solution to cure your muscle cramps: While a lack of sodium is the main culprit behind muscle cramps, studies show potassium plays a supporting role: you need it to replace sweat losses and help with fluid absorption. Bananas are also packed with energizing carbohydrates, helping your push yourself harder and longer while working out!
3. Berries: any, and all! Go by the rule of thumb: the deeper the color, the healthier the berry. USDA researchers recently placed fresh berries on their list of the 20 foods richest in antioxidants. Just a handful of blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries is an excellent source of these potent nutrients, which protect muscles from free radical damage that might be caused by exercise.
4. Carrots: Carrots pack complex carbs that provide energy to muscles and potassium to control blood pressure and muscle contractions, says Leslie Bo.
5. Whole Grain Cereal: If you are looking to fuel a strong workout, look for a whole grain cereal that packs a combination of endurance-boosting complex carbs and muscle-building protein. Sixty minutes before a workout, fuel up with a 200-calorie snack: ¾ cup of whole-grain cereal with 4 ounces of fat-free milk. “When you eat something before exercising, you have more energy, so you can work out harder and perhaps longer. And you’ll be less likely to overeat afterward,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D.
6. Chicken thighs: A lack of iron and zinc in your diet will make your energy level plummet. Look to most lean proteins to help get your levels back up, but “dark-meat poultry is significantly lower in fat than red meat yet has all the iron, zinc, and B vitamins that women need in their diets,” says Seattle sports nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., author of Power Eating.
7. Hummus: the chickpeas and olive oil that combine to make hummus a fabulous combination of complex carbs, protein and unsaturated fats, all of which energize you for a workout. Aim for a snack of 100 calories of hummus, paired with veggies to fill you up for hours.
8. Eggs: Protein-filled egg whites, yes! But don’t skip the yolk, either. One egg yolk per day supplies 215 milligrams of cholesterol—not enough to push you over the 300-milligram daily cholesterol limit recommended by the American Heart Association. Plus, the yolk is a good source of iron, and it’s loaded with lecithin, critical for brain health, says nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D. Start your day off with an egg white omelet with one yolk tossed in.
9. Chocolate Milk: not only is milk a top source of calcium, but choose a reduced-fat variety of chocolate milk to create an almost-perfect muscle recovery drink. The chocolate kind is loaded with calcium, vitamins, and minerals just like the plain stuff, but new studies confirm that milk with a touch of cocoa is as powerful as commercial recovery drinks at replenishing and repairing muscles.
10. Salmon: As crazy as this sounds, new studies are suggesting that monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats might help lessen abdominal fat! Pair that with a muscle-building workout to whittle your middle in no time.