Whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, increasing your fitness or a combination, getting the right blend of nutritional foods is critical to achieving success. To get the most out of your workouts you need to get your diet right. Eating foods rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, complex carbs and healthy fats can have a massive impact on how effective your workouts are and how quickly you recover. Adding these foods to your diet will help power your workouts.
Chia seeds may be small but they pack a mighty nutritional punch. In just 28 grams of chia seeds you will get around 11 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 18% of your calcium, 30% of your manganese and magnesium and 27% of your daily recommended intake of phosphorus. That’s pretty amazing for just two tablespoons of these little seeds! Chia seeds are great for muscle recovery because they are a natural anti-inflammatory. Calorie for calorie they’re one of the best sources of nutrients you can get. Try adding a couple of tablespoons to a smoothie or sprinkling them on apple slices or oats 15 to 20 minutes after your workout.
Chickpeas are a great long-lasting energy source. These beans provide a variety of vitamins and minerals and are packed full of fibre and protein. A cup of chickpeas packs 10.7 grams of protein, 9.6 grams of fibre, 210 calories, with only 3.8 grams of fat. Chickpeas are cholesterol-free, low in sodium and a great source of vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, soluble fibre and phosphorus. They are also a great source of iron, which helps transport oxygen around the body, helping with your recovery. For best results, eat chickpeas before your workout for sustained energy and improved performance and endurance.
Eggs are a muscle building protein powerhouse loaded with nutrients. In just one large egg you are getting 6 grams of protein! They are also chock full of iron, phosphorus, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5, riboflavin and folic acid – making them the perfect fuel for energy intense workouts. They are also ideal as a recovery food 15 to 20 minutes after your workout. Make sure you’re getting free-range, pastured eggs that are omega-3 enriched for best results.
This orange tuber is packed full of nutrients, making them a great pre or post workout food. The humble sweet potato is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Because sweet potato is a slow-release carbohydrate it provides longer lasting energy for those gruelling workouts. Just one cup of baked sweet potato contains 65% of your daily intake of vitamin C, 50% of manganese, 29% of vitamin B6 and 27% of potassium. The high percentage of potassium helps to repair muscle and prevent fatigue. Try subbing white potato for sweet potato in the future and start reaping the benefits!
Quinoa is high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, making it a rare complete protein. This means that it is great for muscle-protein synthesis post your workout. Plus, it’s a complex carb, meaning it gives you longer lasting energy to fuel your workout because it’s metabolised at a slower rate. It’s also high in fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and antioxidants. One cup of cooked quinoa has great nutritional value providing you with 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fibre, 28% of your recommended daily allowance of phosphorus, 19% of folate, and 15% of iron. And because quinoa is so high in antioxidants it helps neutralise and prevent free radicals caused by working out. Quinoa is easy to cook and is a great replacement for rice. There are heaps of tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes available online, so check them out!
Together with a healthy diet, supplements can help you add additional nutrients to your diet. Popular supplements include:
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): nutrients that help your body reduce muscle and protein breakdown. This can help prevent muscle fatigue during intensive gym sessions. Some popular BCAAs include Optimum Nutrition – AMINO ENERGY and Scivation XTEND.
- Creatine: allows the body to produce more energy, improving overall performance and quicker muscle recovery after a workout. A popular choice is Dymatize – CREATINE MICRONIZED.
- Protein: helps to grow and repair muscle. Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein and a great choice to aid in muscle recovery and growth. Popular choices include Scivation – XTEND PRO Whey Isolate, Optimum Nutrition – GOLD STANDARD NATURAL 100% WHEY and Cellucor – Cor Performance Whey.