With the last two years putting a spanner into many people’s workout routines, many of us are now beginning to refocus on our health and fitness goals.
The effect of lockdowns may have dented your exercise regime, with the closure of gyms and fitness studios across the globe.
On the other hand, you may have been inspired to come up with creative ways to get your pulse racing and your muscles working at home or in your backyard.
In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle and getting enough sleep, the importance of nourishing your body with the right nutrients can also help you to meet your workout goals.
The undeniable link between diet and physical health means you can increase your energy levels and support your immune system by eating the right foods.
These will provide you with the necessary fuel your body needs to give you the energy, strength and endurance to make the most out of your exercise regimen.
To help you get back on track with your workout plans, this article will highlight some foods that can give you the edge when putting your body through its paces.
Nutrition and Exercise
Two of the most widely known and important nutrients needed by your body to work out effectively are carbohydrates and protein.
Carbohydrates are needed to fuel your muscles and give your body the energy it needs for endurance and high-intensity exercise.
Carbohydrates also play a key role in a process known as ‘protein sparing’, where they preserve muscle mass by providing glycogen for energy rather than breaking down proteins from muscle tissue.
Some good sources of carbohydrates include whole-grain bread, pasta, quinoa, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables. A risotto dish using arborio rice also can be a great meal to have a few hours before your workout.
Craig Salmon master trainer from Premier Global NASM PT Diploma says “Your body also needs protein to help build and repair your muscles. By increasing amino acid levels in the bloodstream, protein supports a process known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS) which is essential for building muscle mass.”
It is also needed to prevent muscle damage due to its role in repairing torn muscle tissue. This is why protein is also an essential nutrient for post-workout recovery.
Some of the best protein sources are meat, poultry, dairy products and fish. If your diet is lacking in this nutrient then a protein shake or protein bar can also be beneficial.
Foods that are packed with rich nutritional benefits such as healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as containing a low calorific content are known as superfoods.
When it comes to diet and exercise, superfoods can support you in your workout targets, whether they be to lose weight and acquire a leaner physique or enabling you to run longer distances.
Some superfoods are known to increase your metabolism, supporting your body with efficient fat burning while others can provide you with a long-lasting energy source.
Below are some superfoods to consider adding to your diet to help you achieve your workout goals.
Matcha is a type of finely ground, green tea from the Camellia sinensis tea plant and is cultivated in areas such as Uji in Kyoto, Japan.
It contains an antioxidant called EGCG, which can have a thermogenic and metabolism-boosting effect, helping you to burn more calories.
Rich in chlorophyll, matcha is a great source of antioxidants and its high levels of L-theanine can help reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels in the body.
Matcha also contains caffeine which can help you to focus, boost your endurance and increase your body’s fat-burning ability during your workout.
Incorporating matcha as part of your exercise regimen can help your body to increase its heat-producing ability, thereby burning more calories during your cardio or resistance work.
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae and is rich in many nutrients. It is usually sold in the form of a dark-green powder.
This superfood is rich in protein, iron and a range of minerals and vitamins including vitamin E, C B6 and B12.
It is also thought to support the immune system by boosting antibody and white blood cell production in the body.
Spirulina can support your workout efforts by improving your muscle strength and endurance, allowing you to work out longer before feeling fatigued.
Moreover, spirulina has high chlorophyll levels which can help to reduce inflammation and aching, inflamed muscles helping your workouts in the long run.
Due to its high protein content, spirulina is great to have post-workout to aid muscle recovery.
It can be stirred into a glass of water or juice, added to smoothies or made into energy balls to make the perfect post-workout snack.
Chia seeds are derived from the Salvia hispanica plant native to central America. They are loaded with nutrients such as zinc, iron and B vitamins which give your body the fuel needed to work out effectively.
They also help your body to retain water, preventing dehydration during exercise and their rich protein content can help with repairing and rebuilding muscles post-workout.
Maca or Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes also called Peruvian ginseng. This plant grows wild in the Andes mountains in Peru and has a range of health benefits.
Maca can boost your energy levels and provide a long-lasting source of energy that can support your stamina and reduce exhaustion making it great for running, cycling and other endurance exercises.
As it provides a steady boost to your energy levels, maca allows you to work out harder and for longer periods.
It can also benefit your muscles due to its high protein content, helping to build muscle mass and can be used post-workout to aid your muscle recovery process.
These nutrient-dense berries are packed full of antioxidants and are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein as well as healthy fats.
Acai berries can help your body to rebuild muscle tissues after a workout and can also replenish essential nutrients you may have lost while working out.
Try adding some of these superfoods to your workout regime and enjoy the benefits they bring to your exercise efforts.