When it comes to exercise and weight loss, most of us are bogged down by thousands of questions and confusions that keeps us from getting up and hitting the gym. How can we optimize our workouts to extract maximum effects from it? Well, the secret lies in our diet. With so many varieties of energy drinks, bars, powders and supplements available in the market, we are confronted with yet another dilemma. But what if it was possible to get all the necessary carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats from a well-planned diet? Here is a list of few nutritious foods that you can eat before and after your daily workout session in order to make the most out of it.
Our body works exactly like a machine that requires fuel for running. Therefore, pre-workout foods must be rich in carbs, lean protein, fibers and healthy fats that help the muscles to endure the hardships of high intensity exercises. Carbohydrates and protein must be consumed in the ratio of 4:1.
Oatmeal is a super food that is packed with carbs, proteins, minerals, essential fatty acids and it is a great source of fibers as well. Oats is complete pre-workout food for those who hit the gym in the morning when you don’t have time to eat breakfast 1-2 hours before the workout. Oats settle well without giving you a bloated feeling and takes time to digest thereby keeping you satiated for longer slowly releasing sugar into the blood stream. Addition of fruits and berries will help you keep hydrated throughout the workout.
Sprouts and legumes are one of the healthiest snacks that are highly nutritious. Sprouts are rich in vitamin K and C, proteins, fibers and minerals. Sprouts are loaded with complex carbohydrates that take longer to break down thereby releasing energy for a longer period of time. This makes it ideal for consumption 1-2 hours before the workout.
Fruit smoothies are ideal pre-workout snack when you are running short of time. It takes seconds to prepare and you can have it on the go. Opt for fruits with high glycemic index such as mango, banana, pineapple, and watermelon. The carbohydrates present in the fruits breakdown rapidly to supply energy during workout while the proteins help in checking muscle damage.
Bananas act as powerhouse of fuel that helps the body to function effectively throughout the day. It’s a great source of carbohydrates, potassium and manganese that helps prevent muscle cramps, helps wound healing and increases bone strength and endurance. Eat a banana along with a cup of yogurt at least an hour before hitting the gym for optimal results.
Whole grain bread is one of most mess-free sources of carbohydrate that requires absolutely no time to prepare and can be coupled with some great protein sources such as hard boiled eggs, few turkey slices or honey. It is an ideal pre-workout snack to develop muscles.
Greek yogurt is packed with protein, almost double than regular yogurt that keeps the muscles energized throughout the workout. In addition, it is easy to digest and therefore ideal for the days when you feel like pumping the iron or go for intense exercises. It is easily digestible and therefore ideal for those with sensitive stomach. It is also a great source of carbohydrates that make up for the pre-workout energy requirements.
The good old eggs are one of the richest sources of proteins and minerals. It is easy and quick to prepare and great to eat. You can either have them hard boiled or scrambled. And yes, you can have the yolk as well because it improves the level of HDL in blood level thereby protecting the heart.
Research shows that caffeine before exercise can actually enhance performance by supplying energy to the muscles. Caffeine signals the muscles to burn stored fats rather that carbohydrates for extracting energy. Caffeine also helps prevent muscle soreness post-workout. Although caffeine is present in various sports drinks, tea and chocolate, but its better have a cup of black coffee before you hit the gym in order to boost up energy.
Our body uses a lot of energy during exercises that should be replenished properly for the muscles to recover. The two most vital requirements of the body post workout are fluids and carbohydrates which should be taken within half-an-hour of exercising for the body to use the nutrients effectively.
Kiwi fruit is a powerhouse of nutrients that has more vitamins and minerals per gram compared to any other fruit. It is packed with vitamin C, potassium, fibers and antioxidants that help relieve muscle soreness.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene that protects the body against free radical produced during the workout. It is a rich source of vitamin D and potassium that provides energy boost and helps relieve muscle cramps and injuries suffered during workout.
The yummy crunchy snacks are ideal for those days when you are running a bit late. Just have a pack full of mixed dried fruits and nuts in your bag that you can munch on while returning from the gym. Nuts are packed with proteins while dried fruits are a good source of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible and better supplier of muscle glycogen compared to complex carbohydrates.
Replenishment of fluids lost from the body during a workout is extremely important, but instead of gulping energy drinks and sports drinks try natural fruit juices like orange juice that is a great source of vitamin D and potassium that supplies energy and helps in restoring fluid level of the body post exercise. In addition, fruits juices work as effective antiaging agents.
Grilled chicken and vegetables is the ideal recovery food after a strenuous exercise session when our body is drained out of energy and fluids. It is a dish full of wholesome nutrients that restores protein and carbohydrates in the body without making us feel bloated and full.
Salmon is complete source of nutrients packed with proteins and omega 3 fatty acid- an essential antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that helps lower the level of muscle inflammation during exercise, increase blood flow to muscles thereby reducing muscle soreness, enhances fat burning and slows down muscle loss. It is a complete food that helps the body to maximize the benefits of a workout.
Put aside the sport and energy drinks and grab a glass of sinfully healthy chocolate milk post workout. Recent research has shown that chocolate milk is one of the most effective post-exercise recovery drinks. It has double the amount of carbohydrates and protein compared to any sports drink or plain milk that is essential for revitalizing the tired muscles. In addition, it also contains calcium, sodium and sugar that helps regain energy.
Although cereal is a traditional breakfast food but it is actually good during any time of the day. Cereals work wonders as a post exercise snack too. It is a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, fiber and calcium that is vital for muscle recovery and energy. In addition, it also replenishes the post workout fluid needs to certain extent.
Now gift yourself and your loved ones a fitter and healthier you with the help of a planned diet and workout combination and don’t forget to share your diet and fitness tips with us.