6 Foods That Will Help You Get Fit Fast
Many of us hit the gym to build muscle, increase our endurance, and get in better shape. If you’re only concentrating on your workouts, though, you’re missing out on an easy way to get fit even faster. What you eat also plays a role in your overall fitness. Certain nutrient-rich foods can boost your stamina, help repair muscle, fight off cramps, and aid in recovery, which will help you hit the gym harder each time you go. Ready to get in better shape just by eating? Here are 6 foods that gym goers should be working into their daily diet.
1. Chocolate Milk
If you aren’t already guzzling calcium-packed milk after working out, it’s time to start! Calcium plays a key role in muscle health, meaning it’s a must for anyone who’s strength training. “Calcium is one of the two most important nutrients our body needs for healthy and strong bones and muscles,” Leon Popovitz, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, told Shape.
Furthermore, it can also help your body recover after a tough workout. Web MD notes that low-fat chocolate milk is able to refuel your muscles because of its perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein. A study done by William Robert Lunn examined eight male runners, who completed two 45-minute runs over a two-week period.
After each run, the participants either drank 16 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk or 16 ounces of a carbohydrate-only sports beverage. After their workouts, a muscle biopsy sample was taken, revealing that runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk during recovery had heightened markers of muscle protein repair compared to those who drank the other beverage.
2. Beet Juice
Looking for a way to push through a particularly hard workout? Beet juice may be just what you need to improve your endurance. Runner’s World explains that beets are a great source of inorganic nitrate, which is converted to nitrite when it mixes with your saliva. Other parts of your body then convert the nitrite to nitric oxide, which contributes to many important body functions, such as blood flow and muscle contraction.
A study done at the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences looked at eight male cyclists who either drank 16 ounces of organic beetroot juice or a placebo. The results revealed that those who drank the beat juice cycled for up to 16% longer. Runner’s World adds that if you’re drinking beet juice to improve your stamina, you should drink it two to three hours before a workout.
Sipping on cherry juice is a great way to help your body fight muscle soreness and regain your strength after an intense workout. A study conducted at the University of Vermont’s Human Performance Laboratory asked a group of men to drink either 12 ounces of a tart cherry juice blend or a placebo twice daily for eight days. During the study’s fourth day, the participants completed a strength-training routine. Two weeks later, they were given the opposite beverage, and repeated the same workout.
The research revealed that drinking cherry juice had a remarkable impact on pain reduction and muscle soreness. Furthermore, for those in the cherry group, strength loss only averaged 4%, compared to 22% in the placebo group. Health notes that if you’re ready to jump on board the cherry bandwagon but fresh cherries aren’t in season, you can eat frozen or dried versions of the fruit or drink 100% tart cherry juice — they work just as well!
4. Sweet Potatoes
Packed with beta-carotene, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese, sweet potatoes are a fitness fiend’s best friend. Their combination of killer nutrients is able to help the body repair itself faster after a workout. Men’s Fitness explains that sweet potatoes are filled with high-fiber carbs, which help to stabilize your energy.
“Starchy carbs like sweet potatoes eaten in combination with lean protein after a workout, act as a catalyst for protein to enter muscle tissue and begin the repair/rebuild process, “Katy Jercich, a strength and conditioning specialist, told Today. “Sweet potatoes are hypoallergenic and the preferred source of post-workout carbohydrates for many athletes, bodybuilders and regular exercisers who want to keep their energy stores up and body fat down.”
Men’s Fitness writes that this powerful vegetable also contains electrolyte-balancing potassium. Not only does this help you stay hydrated, but it can help relax your body and lower your blood pressure. This helps prevent fatigue and can cause you to have more energy during your workouts.
Salmon is a fatty fish that’s packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids. A three-ounce serving of salmon contains 22 grams of protein. Not only does salmon’s high protein content help you to build muscle, but Fitnea explains that people who eat higher amounts of omega 3’s typically have greater muscle strength than those consuming small doses of the fatty acid.
“Omega-3’s can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery,” Registered Dietician Tom Incledon told Men’s Health.
If you’re looking for a surefire way to increase your endurance, eating bananas is one of the easiest way to do so. Active.com explains that eating this fruit 30 minutes before exercising can minimize cramps that you may otherwise experience during your workout. In addition, it also helps your cardiovascular system function correctly, ensuring your heart is pumping properly and you’re receiving enough oxygen.
Livestrong also recommends eating bananas after exercising because they’re filled with potassium, magnesium, and carbs, which all aid in recovery and can stave off post-workout muscle cramps. The lesson here: Whether you’re lifting weights or going on a bike ride, run, or swim, eating a banana is a great way to boost your energy before and after your workout.