Sweating it out in the gym isn’t enough. You need the right food to support your workout. After all, the idea behind exercise is to gain health and not eat up your muscle and get prone to injuries.
There are some foods that can stoke your fat-burning furnace big time, and you need to make them a part of your diet ASAP. That is if you want to gain big from all that exercise you are doing.
Include the following five foods in your diet if you exercise regularly.
Banana is a great source of natural sugars and simple carbohydrates, so eating a banana pre-workout is the perfect way to boost your glycogen stores. The best news is that it releases slow and steady levels of glucose into your bloodstream, which is great for endurance workouts.
Bananas also stimulate the production of dopamine in the brain which helps to improve antioxidant capacity and combat the damaging effects of free radicals formed during exercise.
Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, which is needed to help the heart and skeletal muscles flex and contract during your workout.
Tip: In the body, potassium is only stored for a limited amount of time, so try consuming a banana around 30 minutes to an hour before you workout.
Coconut oil often gets bad mouthed because it is a saturated fat. But that’s only half the information.
Coconut oil is an excellent fuel source for workouts, because even though it’s a saturated fat, the medium-chain fatty acids in it give you the energy you need without making you crash later.
Our body digests and metabolises coconut oil to produce energy differently than it uses other foods. So it provides energy faster than any other fat.
There’s another good news: coconut oil also increases your metabolic rate, and that is good news for anyone looking to cut down their fat percentage.
It will also help you build the muscle you want when working out as it helps accelerate the enzyme activity associated with the production of testosterone. And testosterone plays an important role in toning up and building muscle. So it’ll help tone you up faster.
Finally, research also shows that the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil can reduce your appetite and delay feelings of hunger by keeping you full longer.
Tip: Try a teaspoon of it before you workout and you’ll be amazed at the sustained energy and endurance it provides.
Trail Mix: Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruits
Trail mix is a great pre-workout snack as nuts and seeds cover all your macro-nutrient bases, as they have carbs, protein and fat.
Trail mixes are loaded with antioxidants and omega-3 fats, which provide sustained energy and also fuel your recovery after an intense workout. Dried fruits offer lasting energy.
Watch out for store-bought mixes that are often packed in a lot of salt, preservatives, and sugar.
Tip: Make your own trail mix with dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Add some raw cacao nibs to boost the benefits. Have it 30 minutes to an hour before your workout session.
Sweet potatoes are a fibre-rich root vegetable and a nutritional powerhouse. There is no doubt about that. But not many know that it is every fitness fanatics best friend too.
When we exercise, glycogen stores are quickly used up and depleted, and our body, looking for new sources of energy, ends up breaking down our hard-earned muscle. So it makes sense to provide our body with functional carbs for a boost of energy during workouts.
Fuelling a workout with sweet potatoes is a great idea as they deliver slow-releasing complex carbs that can help sustain you through your workout.
Sweet potatoes are also packed with calcium and iron, and are high in beta carotene, which, together with other essential antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, helps with protecting cells, muscle recovery, regeneration and repair free radical damage caused by the workout.
They are also rich in B6, which combat the physical effects of stress the body goes through during an intense session.
Tip: Have this 2-3 hours before the workout.
Oats are a great pre-workout food. They have a low glycemic index and help slow down the digestion process. This helps deliver carbohydrates to the body efficiently and at a steady pace without unnecessary sugars.
Oats give our muscles energy. The more energy we have, the better will be our workout, and the better the workout, the better will be the results.
Oats also happen to be excellent muscle recovery food.
Tip: Because of its slow-burn effect, don’t eat oats just before a training session. Instead have it 2-3 hours prior to your workout to digest it on time.
(The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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