Whether you’re trying to reach your goal of running 10 miles or even a marathon, or maybe you just want to have enough energy to “play the game,” whatever that game might be, fueling your body properly is an important factor to consider.
Never underestimate the importance of a proper diet in achieving optimal energy for your workout, whether for athletic competition or the casual athlete who just wants to maintain an ideal body weight. Making healthy food choices can make all the difference in the world.
In order to maintain energy throughout your workout, it’s important to eat healthy fats. While some people seem to believe that it’s better to avoid all fats, everyone needs some healthy fat in their diet and especially athletics. Include foods such as almonds and peanut butter or almond butter, fish, soy milk, and olive oil. Fatty foods that should be reduced or eliminated include lards, ice cream, high-fat cuts of meat, and butter. Trans fat should be avoided at all costs, including packaged snack foods, commercially baked pastries and donuts, stick margarine and fried foods.
Greek-style yogurt (plain, no sugar or additives) is one of the best foods to rev up your metabolism and keep you going throughout your workout. By mixing it with fresh fruit you’ll get a naturally sweet flavor in addition to lots of vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Grains such as amaranth, barley, millet, and wheat are all good foods to help keep you full while avoiding stagnation in your digestive system. The last thing you want is to feel too full when exercising, but at the same time these grains will help boost your energy levels and keep you going.
While there is no such thing as one “super food” there are a number of foods that can give you the most bang for your buck. Try to include as many of these as you can:
- Lemons: This fruit has 100 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, may increase your good cholesterol, and strengthen your bones. Its flavonoids may also help to prevent cancer.
- Broccoli: Another wonderful cancer preventing food that also has a full day’s worth of vitamin K, and 200 percent of the daily value for Vitamin C.
- Potatoes: These are a great vegetable to base your diet on, with an endless amount of cooking options. They contain lots of folate and are filling. A sweet potato is even better, with eight times the amount of vitamin A you need in a day.
- Salmon: This fish is a great way to get your protein, as well as the healthy omega 3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and cancer.
- Walnuts: These also contain the excellent omega 3 fatty acids, and even the antioxidant melatonin to help you get good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep means a better workout the next day!
- Blueberries: One of my favorites, this fruit packs a lot of benefits into a little berry. They’ve been rated the highest for antioxidants of any food on the planet.
- Spinach: Fresh spinach leaves make a wonderful salad and helps to prevent muscle and bone loss, as well as having lots of vitamins and anti-oxidants.
K.C. Dermody has been an avid runner, hiker, and yoga enthusiast for twenty years, and as a trained yoga instructor she taught a variety of students from senior citizens to competitive athletes. She enjoys combining her passion for sports, emotional and physical well-being with her love of writing.
More from this contributor:
Five sports with the best health benefits for women
Don’t stop running: Tips for exercising in inclement weather
Running after 40: How to prevent injuries that will stop you in your tracks