An age-old saying states “Abs are made in the kitchen”, and it’s not far from the truth. To achieve your fitness goals you must consider your food!
You might have already heard about stuff like protein cookies or fitness bars that are really effective as pre-or post-workout snacks. However, they are not the only fitness food! What is healthy fitness food? What products to choose from? What are the best fitness diets? Sometimes figuring out the right diet or nutrition plan is tougher than maintaining a workout regimen.
We’ve created this guide to provide you with faithful info on fitness food.
4 Nutrition Rules To Follow For The Best Fitness Results
- Give Up Junk Food
To make your fitness journey successful and get in shape, you have to start with the food you eat. Food filled with unhealthy fats, refined grains, and sugar does contribute to weight gain. Moreover, this junk promotes systemic low-level inflammation and increases the risk of chronic illness and even early death. You should avoid ultra-processed products that contain artificial flavors, colors, hydrogenated fats, added sugars, and chemical preservatives. Examples of such products include sugary breakfast cereal, artificially flavored chips or crackers, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc. Exclude these nutritional bankrupts from your menu since they’ll never boost your fitness levels, instead, these foods pose a serious risk to your overall health.
- Mind Your Macronutrients
To support effective workouts, your body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Protein provides your body with amino acids – building blocks needed to recover, maintain, and build muscles. Including protein-rich products in each meal suppresses your appetite. Plus, if you pair protein with carbohydrates, it’ll help you feel full longer. Our bodies can’t store protein, so it’s advisable to include this component at every snack or meal. It’s also important to evenly distribute protein intake throughout the day.
Good sources of protein are:
- Poultry – chicken, duck, turkey, goose
- Lean meats – pork, lamb, beef, lamb, veal
- Fish and seafood – fish, clams, prawns, lobster, crab, mussels, oysters, scallops
- Legumes and beans – tofu, chickpeas, all beans, lentils, peas
- Dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese
- Seeds, nuts, nut pastes – sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, macadamias, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts.
All these products are the best fitness food for muscle building.
Carbohydrates are vital for energy and workout performance. Actually, they are fuel for muscle contractions. If your fitness routine consists of moderate or low-intensity exercises, the carbohydrates you get from your regular meals should be enough. However, if you take part in high-intensity activities that last more than an hour, consume some extra carbs.
Make sure to include only healthy carbohydrates to your fitness food menu:
- Sweet potatoes
- Kidney beans
Eating healthy fats will never make you fat! Instead, they provide essential fuel for both endurance workouts and low-intensity exercises. Fatty acids are vital for your overall health; they help protect internal organs and ensure a healthy cell structure. Finally, fats are necessary for the production of hormones and the absorption of nutrients.
Healthy high-fat foods:
- Dark chocolate
- Whole eggs
- Fatty fish
- Chia seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconuts and coconut oil
- Full-fat yogurt
To meet your everyday nutritional needs, and maintain your exercises, distribute your macros as follows:
- Protein – up to 35%
- Carbohydrates – up to 65%
- Fats – up to 35%
- Mind Your Micronutrients
The following micronutrients are a must if you want to make your workouts even more effective, build muscles, burn fat, and improve your overall health. Ensure to include them in your fitness food list.
Vitamin C is known for its protective properties: it protects the body against infections, oxidative stress and helps to absorb iron.
- Citrus fruits
- Green peppers
Biotin converts proteins, carbs, and fats into energy. Besides, it helps keep skin and hair healthy.
- Egg yolks
- Peanut butter
It’s widely known that calcium is needed for strong and healthy teeth and bones. However, it’s also required for energy metabolism and muscle contraction. A lack of calcium triggers the release of calcitriol – a hormone that leads to excessive fat storage.
- Sesame seeds
This mineral boosts the immune system, fights cancer, and prevents heart disease. It can also enhance your mood and even prevent depression.
- Brazil nuts
- Wholemeal bread
- Sunflower seeds
- Fresh tuna
Iron forms a part of hemoglobin, the element that transmits oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. It keeps the immune system strong and helps to maintain high energy levels.
- Bran cereals
- Dried apricot
Zink helps your body to produce testosterone, hence improve muscle building. It also boosts fertility, promotes muscle repair and increases the number of T-cells.
- Red meat
- Baked beans
Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for heart health, improved blood circulation. Besides, they suppress appetite, thus helping you to lose weight.
- Brazil nuts
- Flaxseed oil
This element strengthens tendons, skeletal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
- Sunflower seeds
- Sardines in tomato sauce
Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle contraction and boosts your energy levels. It also helps reduce fatigue and muscle cramps.
- Green leafy vegetables
Riboflavin or B2
B2 helps break up fats, carbohydrates, and proteins that are transformed into energy. This element also supports the antioxidants in your body.
B12 is key to forming red blood cells and transforming food into energy. Plus, it improves coordination and muscle growth.
Vitamin D helps to absorb phosphorus and calcium. Phosphorus affects ATP synthesis, the energy source in the body, while calcium is important for muscle contractions.
- Sunflower seeds
- Olive oil
- Pre-workout and post-workout fitness food
Fueling your body with proper nutrients before a sweat session will boost your energy levels and strength, this way you’ll improve your workout performance no matter how long and intensive your session is.
Here are healthy pre-workout options:
- A turkey sandwich
- Dried fruits
- Handful of nuts
- Greek yogurt and fruit
- A cup of oatmeal and one scrambled egg
- Almond butter on whole-grain bread
Post-workout is as important as pre-workout. A post-workout snack or meal will help with glycogen replacement and muscle repair. Note that pre-workout focuses on carbohydrates whereas post-workout must include proteins. Try to eat within 45 minutes after the session. Choose easy digested snacks or meals, this way nutrients will absorb faster to your depleted muscles.
Here are ideas for efficient post-workout:
- A protein shake and banana
- Scrambled egg and avocado toast
- Tuna and crackers
- Roasted sweet potatoes and salmon
- Grilled chicken and roasted vegetables.
The consequences of poor nutrition can be dramatic, so you need a good fitness food plan. We hope our post will help you eat right, stay healthy, and active.
If you know several fitness food recipes that you’ve tried yourself, share them with us in the comment section!