Getting fit is a challenge, but certain foods can make it a little easier. Fitness writer and sports therapist Katie Hiscock says these are the top 10 foods to help you reach your fitness goals.
Blueberries have topped healthy eating lists since the concept of a “superfood” became a thing, and for good reason. Their high GI sugars provide energy to the muscles extremely quickly. Fresh blueberries can be pricey, so consider buying them frozen and whizzing them up into a post-workout smoothie.
Loaded with vitamin C, tomatoes are a great immune booster. Even better? Studies have proven their link to the natural weight loss hormone, leptin, a type of protein that helps to regulate both appetite and metabolic rate.
Don’t be fooled by how deliciously sweet they are – bananas are packed with nutrients that make them an excellent food for improving fitness. They’re high in energy, making them the perfect pre- or post-workout food, while their high levels of potassium can stave off muscle cramps.
You’ll never guess what endurance athletes regularly drink: chocolate milk! It might not sound like the healthiest thing, but chocolate milk has two essential post-workout components – carbs for energy and muscle-healing protein. Oh, and all that calcium definitely doesn’t hurt either.
A serving of this nutrient-dense fish just once a week is enough to meet the body’s need for omega-3 fatty acids. It improves heart health and packs a serious protein punch. Eat it after exercise to rebuild and repair muscles.
6. Dried fruit
There’s no better (and healthier) energy source than dried fruit. A natural substitute for energy gels, dried fruit has loads of high GI carbs for a major mid-exercise energy boost.
7. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are the healthier alternative to regular potatoes (and are just as versatile!). Mash them, roast them, or pop them into the microwave. They’re high in potassium, and help prevent muscle cramps during exercise.
Chock-full of antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals, broccoli is one of the most nutritious foods in the refrigerated aisle. It offers a healthy dose of bone-building calcium, helping to prevent stress fractures, particularly in endurance sport.
Cocoa is rich in magnesium and antioxidants, but it’s most beneficial when it’s as close to the bean form as possible (sorry, Cadbury!). Cacao nibs and slabs containing over 70% cocoa are perfect for a healthy treat that’s packed with amino acids.
10. Brazil nuts
All nuts have their benefits, but Brazil nuts are one of the few natural sources of immune-boosting selenium, a micro-nutrient. On top of that, they’re a filling, nutrient-dense snack that curbs hunger pangs and gives you the stamina to keep your workout going.