To be and look healthy and fit, we must combine physical exercise with a well-balanced diet. One without the other simply doesn’t bring about the optimal results. Eating right is not a complicated matter – there are some foods that help us feel fueled up and maintain a fit body. That is simply because some foods can enhance our physical performance, speed up the recovery process, and, of course, build muscles. With the right nutrition tips, you’ll stop yourself from emotional eating. If your goal is to look fit by combining workouts with a healthy diet, look at some of the superfoods fitness pros eat to look fit to help you achieve your goal.
Why is it important to fuel up before, during, and after the workout?
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If we want to be able to endure any kind of workout, we need to fuel up our bodies with the right foods and fluids. The overall conclusion of many studies that were done is that we need food and fluids before, during, and after our workout as it helps our bodies maintain the glucose concentration in the blood, maximizes our performance and helps our muscles and bodies to recover faster.
Before the workout
Before the workout, we should provide our bodies with energy, and ideally, it would be two hours before the workout. First things first, you should be well-hydrated. Next, you should eat food which is in the category of healthy carbohydrates. This includes whole-grain cereals, brown rice, different fruits, and vegetables, among other things. You should avoid food containing saturated fats and plenty of healthy protein as it is digested more slowly and thus can take oxygen and energy that you need. If you have only 5 to 10 minutes before your workout, make sure you eat something light, such as a banana or other fruit pieces.
During the workout
It’s important to take short breaks during a workout and use that break to hydrate. Eating is not suggested for short workouts ranging from half an hour to an hour. However, for longer, high-intensity interval training, experts suggest eating 50-100 calories every half an hour. Ideally, foods such as a banana, low-fat yogurt, or raisins.
After the workout
Post-workout is also key for taking in the right fluids and food. Make sure you drink plenty of water or 100% juice. Moreover, fuel up on carbohydrates as they provide a source of energy and recovery. Finally, eat protein to help you in repairing and growing your muscles. To maintain a healthy and well-balanced, highly-nutritious diet, it’s important to be mindful of what you take in.
Meet the superfoods
1. Oats – great for fat burn
Regardless of whether you workout at the gym or your home gym, oats are a superfood that can help you in burning fat. Every fitness professional out there bases their diet on different combinations of oats with berries and nuts, among other things. A bowl of oats has the power to boost our energy and burn fat. They are a great pre-workout meal, as they are rich in fiber, which helps with digestion and reduces bloating. Oats are also high in nutrients and thus provide satiety for hours. This superfood is also great as you can easily take it to go and provide your body with a healthy breakfast wherever you are.
2. Eggs – simple and yet, full of protein
A very simple and affordable food – eggs are also one of the staples of a healthy, protein-rich diet. There are so many ways we can prepare them that we can almost certainly never get bored with them. They are definitely one of the top foods eaten by athletes and fitness professionals. Eggs are great as a post-workout meal as the whites are full of protein. By incorporating eggs in your diet, you help your muscles recover and tone your body. As they contain about 6gr of protein, they are also great as a snack before the main meal. They give us energy while at the same time not weighing us down.
3. Protein powder – a useful supplement
However, sometimes a healthy and well-balanced diet simply isn’t enough. Often, due to many external factors and our own body and metabolism type, our muscles and bodies simply require more additional protein. When this is the case, you can easily supply your body with some diet supplements’ necessary proteins. Using a pre-workout blend helps you maximize performance and increase your energy levels with carefully chosen ingredients and specialized amino acids. On the other hand, a post-workout protein dose helps you regain your energy and build muscles.
4. Tuna – an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids
Tuna is a great source of protein containing almost no fat. It is packed in all the essential amino acids that we need to maintain lean muscles. Canned tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart. We can easily combine tuna with some vegetables and salads, and we can take it to go. For example, a combination of tomatoes, tuna, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is a low-carb protein bomb, containing essential fats and raw vegetables.
5. Avocados – highly nutritious
Avocado is a superfood that is great either as pre or post-workout food. You can eat it in a salad, like a guacamole dip, on a toast, or with eggs. It is very healthy as it is rich in vitamins such as C, E, K, and B6. It also contains beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, so one avocado serving helps you feel full. This is so because when you eat food that is rich in fats, your brain gets the signal to turn off your appetite, which in turn slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, keeping the sugar levels in your blood stable.
6. Clementines – for an energy boost
Eating whole foods such as raw fruits and vegetables is always more preferred to eating processed foods. For example, raw fruit such as the clementine is suitable either as a pre or post-workout energy boost. This citrus fruit with high water content is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. Consuming clementines can reduce inflammation. They are a great food for when you’re on the go.
7. Greek yogurt – aids muscle recovery
Greek yogurt is a great go-to-food that aids muscle recovery. It makes us feel full with few calories. It is also a good source of healthy bacteria that we need in our digestive tract. When buying Greek yogurt, it is best to buy plain Greek yogurt, made with goat’s milk. By choice, you can upgrade the plain yogurt with berries and nuts, instead of buying one pre-made, as only then you can be sure about the ingredients it contains. It is a great powerbomb that you can stack up on and take to work, for instance, to ensure a healthy, well-balanced breakfast or a power snack.
8. Watermelon – refuels muscles
Watermelon is a delicious, watery summer food that people love, and for good reasons. This tasty fruit helps restore glycogens and refuels your muscles. You can be a little creative and mix up a cold watermelon drink that you can drink throughout your workout. Some recent studies have also discovered that watermelon is good for relieving pain and muscle soreness. This is probably so due to citrulline, that has been known to improve artery function and lower blood pressure. As it contains a lot of water, it can help you in maintaining hydration throughout the day. Besides these, consuming watermelon has many other health benefits.
9. Almonds – packed with fiber and protein
Almonds are a great source of fiber and protein that can easily relieve our hunger with just a handful of these nutritious nuts. However, we need to be careful with them as they are also high in calories and easy to overeat. We can eat them raw or in some smoothies and protein shakes. A popular almond smoothie recipe contains unsweetened almond milk for the base, a dose of protein, dry oats, a frozen banana, and natural almond butter. You can top it off with some crackers for a richer taste.
10. Kale – rich in antioxidants
Talking about one of the most nutritious foods on our planet, we must mention its majesty – the kale. Kale has numerous health benefits. It contains vitamins A, C, K, and B6 and minerals such as Calcium, Copper, and Magnesium, among other things. It is also packed with antioxidants, and due to its many healthy ingredients, it would be a really good idea to implement it into your diet if you wish to be healthy and fit. Some studies have also shown that eating kale can aid your weight loss. It is relatively easy to add it to your diet. For instance, you can add raw kale to your salads or make kale chips by drizzling some extra virgin olive oil on the kale, adding some salt, and baking it in the oven.
11. Beet juice – for stamina
Some recent research shows that beetroot boosts your energy even more than caffeine does. There are fresh beets all year round, so make sure to get a juicer if you already don’t have one and start juicing! Beets are one of the favorite foods of fitness pros as they are low in calories and yet high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Besides the many health benefits they have, beets are also popular in the fitness circles as they are known to enhance athletic performance. It also increases oxygen use in our bodies. These studies also concluded that it’s best to consume beets 2 to 3 hours before a workout for the optimal effects.
12. Honey – for endurance
It has been shown that eating honey before a physical workout makes blood sugar and insulin levels steadier during a longer period. Honey also boosts speed, power, and endurance during exercises. You can eat it straight out of a jar, or you can mix it in some smoothies. It has plenty of health benefits, besides boosting athletic performance. It has been concluded from the studies done that honey is as good as or even better than glucose, sugar, and water when it comes to increasing endurance of athletes.
13. Blueberries – for reducing inflammation
Blueberries are well-known anti-inflammatory fruit, which recent experiments proved. Well-trained athletes were fed certain amounts of blueberries for some time. The results show reduced inflammation and an increase in natural killer cells, important for maintaining our immune system. It’s best to consume them raw, but the frozen alternative is also plausible when fresh ones are not available. You can easily combine them with smoothies, protein shakes, and oatmeal.
14. Pomegranate – for muscle recovery
Pomegranate is well-known for its plentiful health benefits, but recently it has been found that eating it also aids muscle recovery. In these studies, people were tested, and those who consumed certain amounts of this delicious fruit reported that they had experienced less muscle soreness and weakness. You can eat it raw, of course, but it is also a good idea to add it to smoothies, oatmeal, or salads. Make sure to incorporate it into your diet if you wish to recover faster from your workouts – advice given by the pros.
15. Salmon – for building muscle
It is common knowledge that salmon is abundant in healthy ingredients that our bodies need. What’s a relatively new discovery is that it can be a potent muscle booster. A study done on animals, comparing a diet based on cottonseed and olive oil and a diet based on fish oil, showed improved muscle development. To be fit, it’s best to consume salmon a few times a week as it is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Only by incorporating these superfoods in your diet and exercising regularly you will be able to be healthy and look fit. One without the other won’t achieve the best effect. Start slowly, build up gradually, and never give up – that’s the key.
Featured Photo by LYFE Fuel on Unsplash