Healthy Foods to Eat for Optimal Workout Performance
Getting the greatest benefit from your workout routine, and sticking with it, are easier when you eat the right, energy-giving foods. Complex carbohydrates along with some protein are your keys to success--before and after exercising. The following foods deliciously satisfy hunger, while providing extra oomph when you need it most.
Mix and Match Healthy Snacks for Maximum Exercise Benefit
About an hour before your workout, combine 2 or more of these items for an energy-enhancing, strength-building snack prior to hitting the gym or jogging path.
• Fruit: Raisins, berries, bananas and apples are quite portable, and easily mixable with the other items on the list for a fresh, natural burst of energy--plus stamina for your exercise session.
• Nuts: Combine with fruit, ideally including more fruit than nuts in a mix.
• Nut butter: Try peanut butter or almond butter with a sliced banana or apple. Combining healthy fat and protein, nut butter can help balance blood sugar (when eaten with carbohydrates) and it’s easy to digest.
• Oatmeal: Make a bowl with water or low-fat milk, add to a smoothie or stir into yogurt.
• Yogurt: Greek yogurt is simply packed with protein! Buy ready-made with berries and/or add your own other ingredients (consider oatmeal or nut butter) from this list.
• Low-fat milk: Add fruit or nut butter for a smoothie or use the milk in your oatmeal.
• Water or a sports drink: Don’t forget the importance of hydration in your fitness equation! For high intensity exercise, workouts in humid, hot weather or long exercise sessions (over an hour), opt for the sports drink to replenish electrolytes.
Some individuals need up to 3 hours between snack and workout, so adjust the timing (and the amount of food) to what works best for your body. You may need to experiment a bit. Also, remember to follow your workout with protein-filled food to begin the all-important muscle-repair process.
Crucial Post-Exercise Foods
Reap the rewards of exercise with these after-workout recovery foods:
• Cheese: String cheese is a simple and elegant choice for a post-workout, quick snack.
• Granola: Choose a low-fat ready-made bar, perhaps, or a handful of trail mix.
• Fruit and yogurt smoothie: Get healthy refreshment and nutrition simultaneously -- but you still need to drink water.
• Water: Don't forget to rehydrate!
If you'll be eating lunch or dinner within an hour after working out, you could forego the recovery snack without ill effects. Try a turkey-veggie wrap for lunch or
Keep this list handy on your fridge or inside your front door (or set an alarm on your smartphone) so you don't leave the house ill-prepared for the day, or workout, ahead. When you creatively combine these nutritious foods, you'll enjoy portable meals that take just moments to prepare and bracket your workout with health-giving, natural energy.
Photo credits: Instagram accounts: @nutritionstation_alexandria, @lumadeline, @happyhealthblog