Ask almost any personal trainer and they’ll tell you that regardless of your training goals, healthy eating is the backbone to good fitness. Think about how you feel when you’ve had a fat-filled, carb-loaded meal that leaves you feeling lethargic. It’s like putting bad fuel in your body! Food is the fuel that allows your body to reach goals the goals you’ve set. And, without proper nutrition through quality foods, you’re likely to stall.
Good nutrition is also vital for building muscle mass, as well as to speed up your recovery post-workout. Your choice of food can improve and enhance your athletic performance – which can help your mental motivation to keep up with your workouts. Here’s some suggestions for different types of foods to add to your diet to help strengthen your “fitness backbone”.
Try giving up your morning cup of coffee for a glass of beet juice. Recent research has shown that beet juice may be more effective at boosting energy than caffeine. UK researchers had male athletes drink either 16 ounces of organic beetroot juice or a placebo like a cup of coffee. Those who gulped the beet juice were able to extend their cycling workouts up to 16% longer, an effect scientists say isn’t achievable by any other known means, including training. To try beet juice, either use a juicer and grab some fresh beets, or look for bottled beet juice, which can be sipped straight or blended into a pre-workout smoothie.
That jar of honey in your cupboard is also a great source of fuel for your workouts. Researchers have found that consuming honey before a workout give you a slow-release energy source vs. other “sugary” substances, keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels stable. Honey has also been shown to boost power, speed, and endurance among competitive cyclists who took it both prior and during long interval races.
Next time you grab some low-fat yogurt after a workout, mix in some blueberries. Blueberries have been shown to help reduce inflammation, helping to boost your post-workout recovery, as well as boosting in your body’s natural “killer cells” which play a vital role in your body’s immunity functions.
Bulding and toning muscle doesn’t happen during your workout – it happens as your muscles rebuild. Giving your muscles a good source of protein post-recovery is important to boost both your recovery as well as muscle growth. Salmon has been shown to not only be a potent muscle booster, but the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have been shown to boost brain function, fight off type-2 diabetes, and also fight heart disease. In testing, steers that were fed cottonseed and olive oils vs. fish oil used twice the amount of amino acids to build new protein tissues (i.e. muscle).
With summer approaching, that slice of watermelon is not only a great snack on a hot day, but also a great food for reducing post workout muscle soreness. Spanish sports medicine scientists discovered that watermelon juice helped relieve muscle soreness when about 16 ounces were consumed an hour before exercise. This may be due to a natural substance in watermelon called citruline. Citrulline has been tied to improved artery function and lowered blood pressure And when you eat it fresh, be sure to bite into the white rind a bit—that’s where citrulline is found in higher concentrations.
Finally, when you’re putting your diet plan together, try to eat organic foods and, above all else, maintain a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, complete proteins, and fats including such things as fish oils and flaxseeds.