10 Top Fitness Foods
Today’s families lead extremely busy and stressful lives that make it difficult for them to find the time to shop for, prepare, and eat several well-balanced meals every day. An optimal diet supplies the required nutrients which are adequate for tissue maintenance, repair, and growth without excess energy intake.
Whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, what you eat before and after exercise can make the difference. Here is a list of fitness food that will enhance your workout:
1. Chocolate Milk
A study suggested that chocolate milk has an optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to help refuel and repair tired muscles after a workout session. The research involved eight male runners drinking either 500 ml fat-free chocolate milk or 500 ml of a carbohydrate-only sports beverage with the same number of calories after each run. Researchers found that the muscles were better able to rebuild after the milk drink as compared with the carb-only drink. Also, drinking fat-free chocolate milk led to a higher concentration of glycogen - muscle fuel - in muscles 30 to 60 minutes after exercise as compared with the sports drink.
Caffeine has long been known to increase alertness and endurance. A recent Australian study found that the runners who took about 95 mg of caffeine (equivalent to 250 ml cup of coffee) improved their 5 km run times by an average of 10 to 12 seconds. Additionally, a new study conducted by a team of University of Georgia researchers on a small sample of female volunteers found that moderate doses of caffeine (roughly equivalent to two cups of coffee) can cut post-workout muscle pain by up to 48 percent. The findings may be particularly relevant to people new to exercise, since they tend to experience the most soreness. Caffeine can make it easier for them to transition from that first week into a much longer exercise program. But be careful just how much caffeine you’re getting and where it’s coming from - extras like cream and sugar in large serving sizes can quickly counteract your fitness goals.
Apart from being a good source of fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E - the form that is best absorbed by the body. According to a 2002 study, vitamin E may help ease muscle soreness from a rigorous workout. Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant, protecting your muscles from highly reactive and unstable molecules called free radicals generated during a workout. Free radicals contribute to your aching muscles and diminished performance.
Bananas are a great way to fuel your body before or after exercise. They contain natural sugars for sustained energy which are very important for exercise. It is a rich source of potassium, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. Potassium from bananas helps to maintain normal blood pressure and heart function and also prevent muscle fatigue.
5. Pineapple and Papaya
Pineapple and Papaya are loaded with enzymes – bromelain and papain respectively - which promotes muscle strength and muscle elasticity. These enzymes not only help break down proteins for digestion but also have anti-inflammatory properties to speed up your post-workout recovery.
6. Beans and Legumes
Beans are high in protein and have a lot of fiber. They are excellent at regulating your blood sugar. Heart diseases can be prevented by including beans and legumes in the diet as they are mainly able to lower cholesterol level in blood. They are loaded with complex carbohydrates, the nutrients that are responsible for providing energy to the muscles and brain.
The proteins from fish are easy digestible and easily absorbed into the body. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish help reduce cholesterol, maintain flexibility of arteries and veins and strengthen cardiac muscles. Omega-3’s can also decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout. Australian researchers found that cyclists who took fish oil for eight weeks had lower heart rates and consumed less oxygen during intense bicycling than a control group did.
The amino acids in eggs are converted into muscle, skin, collagen, and other body tissue more efficiently than the proteins from any other food. This means a hard-boiled egg is an ideal muscle-repair food after a workout. Eggs are more satisfying than carbs, making you feel full longer.
Barley contains copper, phosphorus and zinc. It is also rich in fiber and has been known to lower high blood cholesterol. Barley also contains calcium and iron. The beta-glucan fiber in barley helps to protects from diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure and stroke. It has all the necessary nutrients required for continual cell building, cell regeneration and energy production and these processes are necessary for fitness.
This fruit is high in monounsaturated fat, potassium content and is also a good source of vitamins A, B1, D, E, K & B. They are used in alternative medicine to treat arthritis, high cholesterol, and gum disease. It is not only rich in vitamins, minerals and fat, but also protein and carbohydrates, making it an awesome, pre- or post-workout meal.
Spinach is another muscle fuel. Researchers tested the effect of chemicals extracted from spinach (phytoecdysteroids) on samples of human muscle in the laboratory and found that they increased the protein synthesis by 120 percent, helping muscle tissue to repair itself faster after workout. However, you will have to eat more than 1 kg of spinach everyday to see these effects.
A proper routine of workout with healthy diet increase your efficiency. Fitness and exercise make your lifestyle healthier and you can live a long, healthy and happy life.