Whether you’re a dedicated athlete, a weekend warrior at the gym, or anything in between — one thing is for sure, you always want to perform at your prime when it comes to fitness. Our quality of exercise boils down to how much sleep we get every night, how much we’re hydrating, and (of course) how we fuel our bodies. In order to make sure you’re reaching your full potential, here are the go-to foods for optimizing your workout performance.
1. Energy: oats
By now it’s common knowledge that when it comes to a pre-workout meal, carbs should always be a go-to. They give our bodies excess energy to burn, giving us the fuel to keep going through even the most grueling of workouts. But when it comes to picking your carbohydrates, not all choices are ideal. Rather than reaching for white bread or pasta, which will leave you feeling more drained than energized, opt for complex carbs. When in doubt, oats are your best friends. Since oats are rich in beta-glucan and fiber, they’ll take an extended amount of time to digest, which will keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable throughout any workout.
2. Endurance: coffee
While coffee may not be the first fitness beverage that comes to mind, it can actually be a mega-endurance booster. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, glycogen (the body’s stored carb supply) is replenished 66% quicker if athletes consumed carbs and caffeine following a workout. You might be worried that tossing back java will leave you feeling dehydrated, but according to The American College of Sports Medicine caffeine isn’t actually a major issue when it comes to hydration. But just to be sure, it never hurts to make sure you’re drinking ample water before and after a workout.
3. Stamina: beetroot juice
Recently, beetroot juice has become the beverage of choice for athletes everywhere. This newly dubbed “superfood” has been shown to improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure, and increase blood flow. In various studies, beetroot juice has proven to help muscle oxygenation during exercise, meaning it can help significantly improve endurance during workouts. In fact, one study in the UK found that when athletes drank 16 ounces of beetroot juice, they were able to cycle for 16% longer.
4. Muscle-building: salmon
This long-favored fish should always be a first choice when it comes to performance enhancing foods. Packing tons of lean protein, this fishy friend will help your body re-synthesize muscle tissue after the wear and tear of a tough workout. This means more results to show for all your hard work! Plus, as a mega source of vitamin D, it packs even more muscle-building potential.
5. Anti-inflammatory: ginger
After a tough day at the gym, your body can be left feeling sore. Often these aches and pains even inhibit you from performing at your best during future workouts. But rather than let your worn muscles keep you from reaching your full potential, eat some ginger instead. According to Men’s Fitness, ginger has the power to ease post-workout pains. Plus, it’s been shown to reduce stiff joints and swelling — making it a prime recovery snack. So rather than reserving ginger-consumption for the occasional times you grab sushi for dinner, add this super recovery food into your daily diet.