Sometimes your body can seem sluggish and you are tired before you begin your workout. Food can affect your performance in several ways. To make the most of your workout try these seven power foods pre or post workout to keep your body systems balanced so your energy levels are optimal for enhanced performance from your exercise routine.
When you are looking for a natural sugar high and carbohydrate to raise levels of energy, fruit is Mother Nature’s answer. Fruit should be easily digestible and bananas and apples are perfect to have to hand when you need a healthy energy boost. Both fruits are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, and fibre, need no preparation and will not make a mess of your sports bag. An apple or banana eaten before your workout will sustain you and give you the energy boost that is safe and natural. Avoid citrus fruits as they are harder to digest and may cause abdominal cramps.
Often described by athletes as a “gift from the Gods”, Greek yoghurt is a high protein treat before your workout. With twice the protein of natural yoghurt, it also supplies you with good carbohydrates, which are needed for beneficial exercise. Add some berries for a nutritional boost to leave you feeling light and energised. Greek yoghurt is good for muscle growth with the balanced carb and protein content giving added value from a simple, easy to obtain power food
Bran is a by-product from wheat so may not suit if you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. For others bran is a winning choice as breakfast cereals made from bran are high in fibre and the chemical betaine. Betaines have several dietary functions, and help to prevent liver and heart disease. They also enhance metabolic function. Bran cereals are known to help prevent dehydration during exercise making them a perfect pre workout snack or breakfast. Top with some dried or fresh fruit and this is one power packed, energy enhancing meal in a bowl.
Chicken, Fish, Eggs, and Vegetable Protein
When you have finished your workout, your body will need to replace the nutrients it lost so now is a good time to restore the body and replenish depleted muscles. Protein such as chicken, eggs or fish provide the muscles with essential amino acids to help them grow back stronger. For up to one hour after exercise, your body will be craving these nutrients so for maximum benefit try to eat within this timescale. Protein is vital to the optimisation of your body post-exercise. For vegetarians and vegans, there are many forms of vegetable proteins and very good chicken substitutes to eat which will perform the same function
Everyone loves a smoothie and the good news is they are ideal for obtaining all the nutrients, vitamins and trace elements your body needs after working out. Whether you choose a specialist protein shake, or a home made smoothie packed full of fruit, wheat germ, honey and yoghurt, your body replenishing in that vital first hour post exercise will be fast tracked, reaching the target muscle areas faster. Not everyone can face solid food after a taxing exercise session, so a liquid meal is ideal.
Oats are a great friend of athletes of all kinds. They provide the essential glucose to fuel your muscles and are a great weight loss aid. Oats encourage the burning of body fat more quickly and keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Porridge for breakfast or some oat snack bars will keep everything on an even keel, satisfy hunger, and give you sustained energy for your workout.
Dried Fruit and Nuts
Making your own low calorie trail mix is easy and is beneficial to your workout before, during, and after. An easy mix is to take two tablespoons of raisins, a quarter of a teacup of chopped dried apricots and another tablespoon or two of slivered almonds. Nibbling this mix helps your body to prolong energy levels during your workout. Having something to hand can help when you feel a little light headed or tired during exercise to give that small energy boost.
Try some of these power foods and notice the difference. Remember though the most important thing is to keep hydrated so make sure to have water or a sports drink with you at all times.