You've got all the recipes for weight loss at your fingertips, but what if you aren't looking only to lose weight? You want to commit to a healthier lifestyle with a mix of food and fitness, so you need to eat meals that will fuel you up for your workouts. These foods each pack powerful nutrients for athletes, so you can stop relying on endless protein shakes and pre workouts to make the most of your journey to healthy living. Check out these foods below!
1. Quinoa: This high-protein grain contains all nine essential amino acids, which your body can't naturally produce. Those amino acids help build lean muscle and promote a quick recovery from intense workouts. Quinoa is also a versatile food you can eat for any meal, helping you get stronger no matter when you choose to work out. Try eating it for breakfast in this Protein-Packed Fruity Breakfast Quinoa!
2. Salmon: While they don't pack the protein of other meats, salmon, mackerel and trout are oily fish that reduce inflammation and help build muscle. Salmon's superpowers stem from its high density of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and essential vitamins. For maximum benefits, wild salmon is the wisest choice, but since it can be expensive and difficult to find, canned salmon can reduce inflammation, too.
3. Beans: Beans (of all varieties) are a protein must, especially for vegetarians. They may not have the protein that steak or poultry packs, but they have no saturated fat and are high in fiber, keeping you fuller longer and less likely to cut your workout short due to hunger pangs. To keep your stamina up, down these beans alone or in salad, chili or hummus. (via Outside Online)
4. Honey: This sweet snack can provide "time-released" fuel, steadying your blood sugar and insulin levels for a longer period of time. That ensures that you'll feel energized throughout your entire workout and will boost your power, speed and endurance as you sweat, as it's been proven to do with competitive cyclists. (via Health)
5. Bananas: It's no secret that bananas are a strong fueling food for athletes and you may already pack them to eat after long runs. They are high in potassium and vitamin B6 to help prevent muscle cramps and spasms after your workout, but they are also a smart pre-workout food as they help maintain low blood sugar and regulate digestion.
6. Berries: Fruits are packed with antioxidants that protect your body against oxidative stress and harmful free radicals that form as you exercise. Intense colored berries are the best of these antioxidants, which can also reduce inflammation and even preserve muscle strength as you age. They can be eaten in a variety of ways, too, so they're a versatile, healthy snack pre- and post-workout. (via Outside Online)
7. Tart cherries: Swap your morning OJ for tart cherry juice to fight pain caused by inflammation and regain strength after tough workouts. You can find fresh tart cherries in late summer, but frozen and dried varieties, as well as 100 percent cherry juice, is available throughout the year.
8. Watercress: This powerhouse vegetable is the most nutrient-dense food available, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control. It's an important food for any diet, but for active people, this green is crucial for countering the long-term effects of exercise. It reduces exercise-induced DNA damage, allowing you to live a strong, long, healthy life.
9. Dark chocolate: If you're still craving some sweets in your healthy diet, you're in luck! Dark chocolate has been found to increase blood antioxidant levels and reduce exercise-induced cell stress. This keeps your body stable and capable of maintaining an active lifestyle. (via Health)
>> What about chocolate milk? Should you chug it after a tough workout?