Food For Fitness

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The goal of this blog is to provide a place where people can come together and share their love of food and fit. I wanted to create a place where people with similar interests can share tips, tricks and recipes. Nutrition has always interested me but it wasn’t until recently that I began taking it seriously.

Food For Fitness

1. Start With Whole-Grain Cereal

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If you don’t have enough to eat before you exercise, you may not have enough gas in the tank. You might burn fewer calories, too. Have some healthy carbs at least an hour in advance of your workout. Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal with skim milk and cut up fruit or some whole wheat toast or a bagel. Cream cheese and butter add saturated fat. 

2. Grab a Banana

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Don’t have much time before you head to the gym? Eat an apple or a banana 5 or 10 minutes before your workout for some quick, natural energy.

Your body easily digests these carbohydrates and turns them into the energy you need for exercise. Also, fruit is packed with helpful nutrients.

3. An Energy Bar in the Afternoon

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When you’re working out later in the day, have a small snack about an hour before you get started. A sports bar that has 200 calories or less is a good option.

Look for a bar with low-fiber content, ideally 3 grams or less. Too much fiber before a workout can upset your stomach.

On the ingredients list, keep an eye out for sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, and mannitol. Too much of these ingredients can give you cramps or diarrhea.

4. Grilled Chicken at Mealtime

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When you exercise regularly, you need more protein than people who don’t, especially after a workout. Your body uses it to repair muscles, to make blood cells, and for many other purposes. For lunch or dinner, serve a leaner source, like grilled chicken or turkey, instead of something like a cheeseburger.

5. Black Bean Burger

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Whether you sometimes try a meat-free meal or stick to a full-time vegetarian diet, you can get plenty of protein (and lots of other nutrients, including fiber) from plants. Try pinto, kidney, white, or black beans, split peas, or chickpeas. Soy products, like tofu and tempeh, and nuts also have protein.

6. A Bowl of Berries

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After a workout, go for these instead of a bottle of juice. A lot of the fiber in whole fruits is lost as they become juice.

Blueberries, in particular, have been shown to reduce muscle soreness from strenuous exercise. Cherries are another good option. But any berry will likely help.

7. Veggies and Hummus

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When you exercise regularly, it’s all too easy to overestimate how many calories you’ve burned. An intense, hour-long bike ride could burn 590 calories, but a more leisurely one might only use 290.

While you might feel like you’ve earned a cookie, it’s better to snack on fruits and vegetables. After you work out, pair your produce with protein to help you feel more full and replenish muscles. Try vegetables with hummus or fruit with Greek yogurt.

8. Peanut Butter

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While you train for a big event, the ideal post-workout snack combines protein with carbs. Revisit your childhood with a sandwich made with 2 slices of bread and 4 tablespoons of peanut butter. Of course, now that you’re an adult, you can substitute almond butter. Or try two or three cooked eggs for protein with a half a bagel.

9. Water or a Sports Drink

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Hydration is a must when you exercise. Often, water is all you need. But it depends on what you are doing. If your activity is less than 60 minutes, sip small amounts of water often to replace lost fluids. But when your workout is intense and lasts longer than an hour, a sports drink could help your hydration and your performance. Just keep an eye on the calories and sugar, like with any other drink, especially if you want to lose weight.

Top Fitness Foods

1. Milk

Milk pouring into glass

With hydrating water, muscle-healing protein, refuelling sugar and bone-healthy calcium in every glass, milk is great for those upping their activity levels. A warm glass around bedtime may also help you drift off and get the rest you need, thanks to its slow-digesting casein proteins and ability to boost sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin.

Fitness benefits:

Chocolate milk is an age-old favourite for endurance athletes. It might sound unhealthy, but it works because it contains the two essential ingredients you need after a workout: carbs to give energy and protein to repair muscles. A homemade fruit milkshake or fruit smoothie does the same job.

Great shakes…
Super berry smoothie
Strawberry ice cream shake
Cranberry & raspberry smoothie

2. Dried fruit

Dried fruit energy balls

High in natural sugars, dried fruits (such as apricots, raisins and mango) give a concentrated source of carbohydrate, making them agreat energy booster. You’ll also get a dose of fibre, potassium, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals with every mouthful.

Fitness benefits:

If you can’t stomach energy gels during long races, dried fruits are a great natural substitute as they pack in plenty of high GI carbs to give you energy. Aim for one or two servings before a race and two to three servings for every hour of running (one serving is roughly three dried figs). As with all foods, if competing, experiment with dried fruit during training runs rather than on competition day to avoid the dangers of a washing-machine stomach mid-race!

A compact boost of energy…
Dried fruit energy nuggets

3. Broccoli (and other green veg)

Broccoli on white plate

With free-radical-busting antioxidants, digestion-promoting fibre, plus a whole army of vitamins and minerals, broccoli along with kale, spinach and green cabbage are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you’ll find in the supermarket. They are also a great source of folate (a natural-occuring folic acid), which is thought to be good for heart health and for women hoping to conceive.

Fitness benefits:

When it comes to bone-building calcium, plant based foods such as broccoli and kale offer a healthy dose and can be a good alternative to dairy products. Low calcium levels make you more vulnerable to stress fractures, particularly if you do endurance sports, so make sure you get enough calcium in your diet – the NHS recommends 700mg for adults a day.

Go green…
Our favourite broccoli recipes
Our favourite spring greens recipes
Our favourite spinach recipes

4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potato on plate

Mash, bake or make into pâté – sweet potatoes are ultra versatile and are a healthier choice than regular potatoes, with disease-fighting beta-carotene, iron, fibre and vitamin C.

Fitness benefits:

Sweet potatoes are a good addition to a carb-loading diet before a long race, such as a half marathon. They are also high in the electrolyte potassium, which can help ward off muscle cramping during exercise.

Our favourite sweet potato recipes

5. Tomatoes

Tomato salad on white plate

As well as being loaded with vitamin C, tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which gives the fruit their lovelyletterbox-red colour. Lycopene has been making headlines for a few years now as a powerful nutrient to help prevent prostate cancer in men.

Fitness benefits:

Tomatoes may also help with a weight-loss programme: the fruit has been linked with natural weight loss hormones in the body such as leptin, a type of protein which helps to regulate metabolic rate and appetite.

Our favourite tomato recipes

6. Bananas

Peanut butter and banana toast

Bananas are the perfect fitness food: compact, unfussy, soft to chew, and packed with nutrients. Don’t be too quick to bin the peel however – Taiwanese nutritionists found the peel is not only packed with even more potassium, but mood-boosting serotonin and eye-protecting lutein, too. Try the whole banana – peel and all – in a smoothie.

Fitness benefits:

Bananas are slightly higher in energy than other fruits but the calories come mainly from carbohydrate, which makes them brilliant for refuelling before, during or after a workout. They’re also packed with potassium, which may help with muscle cramps during exercise.

Combinations for extra energy…

Mango & banana smoothie
Malt loaf with banana & honey
Peanut butter & banana on toast

7. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts in black bowl

All nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, but Brazil nuts are also one of the few good sources of selenium, a mineral and micronutrient which helps to maintain a healthy immune system and can help protect against heart disease and cancers. The heart-healthy ‘good’ fats in nuts help to lower bad cholesterol levels, but be wary: they can be high in calories if you nibble too many.

Fitness benefits:

Upping your exercise and activity levels can make you more hungry so it’s important to choose snack foods that pack in nutrients and curb hunger pangs. Nuts fill you up far better than other snack foods so are a wise choice to beat the 4pm snack attack.

Add to homemade cereal…
Tropical treat.

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