When you’re trying to get in shape or maintain your current level of physical fitness, you know it’s important to stick with a regular workout routine that includes cardio and strength training. However, you might not realize that it’s also critical to eat the right foods to supplement your exercise. Whether you’re looking for fat burning, energy, or recovery foods, there’s a tasty, nutritional option to help you reach your fitness goals.
Top Foods for Energy
Coffee: Well known as the go-to pick-me-up for many people, caffeine is effective in improving exercise performance if consumed before a workout. Feel free to add a splash of skim milk for some calcium and vitamin D for stronger bones as well, as milk also provides carbohydrate fuel. You only need one cup of coffee to reap the benefits, so don’t go overboard by drinking the whole pot.
Whole Grain Cereal: This breakfast staple can be enjoyed throughout the day as consumption results in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream – providing sustained energy levels for hours. Hint: Check labels to make sure your cereal has most of the important nutrients you need and at least five grams of fiber. Enjoy with skim milk or Greek yogurt for a protein boost.
Eggs: One of nature’s superfoods, eggs provide a steady source of energy because they don’t impact sugar and insulin in the blood stream. Plus, they’re protein-rich and contain vitamins B12 and B6 – both of which are essential for energy production.
Smart Options for Fat Burning
Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios & Other Nuts: Nuts promote fat burning as soon as you pop them in your mouth. They also build muscle and minimize food cravings to help you avoid overeating. Make sure you keep the skins intact to get the best benefits.
Dairy: Low-fat and fat-free dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, pack a healthy dose of calcium. This nutrient helps curb cravings and keeps you full much longer after a meal, so your body turns to fat for fuel. As a bonus, dairy products also keep your bones strong.
Green Tea: The active substances in green tea enhance fat burning and prevent your body from storing fat. Don’t worry – it’s not necessary to drink it hot. Enjoy a refreshing glass of iced green tea after a workout and you’ll be burning fat at the same time.
The Best Foods for Muscle Recovery
Blueberries, Cherries, and Dark Colored Fruit: Nutrients in these sweet treats help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, also helping muscles recover faster after a workout.
Potatoes & Starchy Vegetables: High-glycemic fruits and vegetables help store glycogen levels in the body after an intense fitness session. They can also aid in tissue repair.
Of course, eating for muscle recovery is just part of the battle: You also need to restore muscles by providing the circulation they need to deliver oxygen to tissues and carry waste out of the body. It’s wise to make a stretching and cool down session part of your fitness routine.