When it comes to getting in shape, loosing weight, and getting fit, exercise is half the battle. If you think of your body as an engine, if you put bad fuel into your engine, the engine will run poorly. For all the effort you put into your exercise efforts, it’s important that you fuel it properly. And, with the right foods, you can actually boost your performance and recovery while building muscle! Here’s a number of fitness foods for getting in shape!
Fitness Foods for Stamina – Beet Juice
Recent research in the United Kingdom is showing that when it comes to boosting energy, beet juice is even more effective than caffeine or other energy supplements! In a blind study, those that drank beet juice were able to cycle up to 16% longer than a placebo. And, they couldn’t duplicate those results by any other means, including training! Look for bottled beet juice, or try juicing with fresh beets. You can even find organic powdered beets that you can add to your protein shakes.
Fitness Foods for Endurance – Honey
You may have tried energy bars or gels for your longer workouts for extra energy. But many of these energy bars out there are full of fillers and extra carbs that actually don’t do much good. Instead, try raw honey! The University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory found that that consuming honey before exercise provides “time-released” fuel to provide steady blood sugar and insulin levels over a longer duration. And, this natural sweetener also helped to boost power, speed, and endurance in competitive cyclists who downed it prior to and at 10-mile intervals throughout a 40-mile race.
Fitness Foods for Building Muscle – Salmon
If you’re looking to add muscle while avoiding fat, you can’t really do much better than salmon. Not only do the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help to fight heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes, but salmon can also help to boost muscle growth. In fact, compared to animals that were fed cottonseed and olive oils, those that consumed fish oil showed improved muscle development, as their bodies used twice the amount of amino acids to build new protein tissues. It’s important to look for wild salmon (the farm raised salmon looks nice, but is lacing in nutrients), or try salmon jerky as a snack.
Fitness Foods for Reducing Muscle Soreness – Watermelon
Watermelon is a great post workout snack during the summer. It’s cool and refreshing. And, research is showing it’s also a great way to reduce muscle soreness. Spanish sports medicine scientists discovered that if you drink about 16 oz. of watermelon juice prior to your workout, you’ll reduce and relieve post workout muscle soreness. This is probably due to citrulline, a substance found in watermelon that’s been tied to improved artery function and lowered blood pressure – so make sure you eat it fresh and bite into the white rind a bit—that’s where citrulline is found in higher concentrations.
Fitness Foods for Strength Recovery – Pomegranate
Daily living causes your body to produce what are known as “free radicals”, as the body is under constant attack from oxidative stress. Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. And since electrons like to be in pairs, these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and many others. They also may have a link to aging, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free-radical damage. But, researchers have found that the antioxidants in pomegranate have been linked to enhanced memory and brain activity, and now researchers at the University of Texas at Austin report that pomegranate juice helps improve muscle recovery. Those who gulped pomegranate juice like “POM”, experienced significantly less muscle soreness and reduced muscle weakness for up to 7 days.