Eating right can make all the difference for athletic performance. Even if you are not training for a marathon, the right fuel will make any workout more effective. Here are five foods that will make you feel energized and get you the results you want, faster.
Yes, water is a nutrient and it is the most essential of all. If you want to perform, you need to be well hydrated. Dehydration by anything over 2% of body weight significantly degrades endurance exercise performance, especially in hot environments. Try to drink at least eight-ten glasses of water per day, and even more when sweating a lot. Don’t forget you are also losing electrolytes when you sweat! Sodium is the most important electrolyte as its primary function is to maintain the fluid balance in the body. You don’t need to buy expensive sport-drinks. Just be aware of replacing lost sodium throughout the day and eat foods with a little bit of salt.
Don’t fear carbohydrates. They are actually the best fuel for both endurance AND muscle-building exercises. Your muscles need glucose to perform. Even for muscle growth – the most important ingredient is energy. If your energy balance is negative, you will not grow, run faster, or get stronger. Healthy carbs will slowly release energy and keep you going longer. Oatmeal is perfect as it is still high in fiber but easy to digest (you don’t want to eat anything too heavy before a workout!). You can add fruit for some quicker fuel and nuts or seeds for healthy fats.
Smoothies are the ultimate fast food! This is awesome fuel for endurance athletes. The fruit sugar is absorbed quickly but because the fiber is still in the smoothie, it will not leave you hungry like a juice would. To slow down the sugar absorption, add some nuts and seeds or protein. This will also add some additional energy (calories) to your smoothie and energy is everything you need!
Eggs are a perfect source of protein. Your body needs some protein to recover from that tough workout. While you don’t want to overdo it – too much protein could make you feel heavy – a balanced amount of protein will help you to feel re-energized. Eggs are a great, natural source of protein. Go ahead and eat the yolk too – it’s full of vitamins and nutrients.
A secret weapon of any endurance athlete. Beet juice actually increases our blood flow in the body – bringing more oxygen to muscles. This makes it easier to perform better at endurance events. However, you need to drink the juice for a few days to see effects. The ingredients responsible for the blood-thinning effects are called nitrates. They are also present in celery and spinach, but are particularly high in beet juice.