food exercise


Ten Best Foods to Support Physical Activity

01 March 2021

Your body depends on certain nutrients to fuel itself through a workout, and some foods are better than others at providing those nutrients. Foods that contain energy in the form of carbohydrates and protein in addition to certain vitamins, antioxidants and stimulants known to boost performance top the list of foods for physical activity.

Next time you’re at the supermarket, make sure you stock up on these top ten staples to help fuel your body and to get the most from your workouts. 

Bananas are the ultimate pre and post workout snack, providing a potent energy boost and quickly replenishing energy stores. Your body easily digests these carbohydrates and turns them into the energy you need for exercise.

Eating one banana will help you regulate your fluid intake (since you’re drinking more water before, during and after physical exertion). It will also protect you from muscle spasms or cramps.

Enjoy bananas on their own, in a fruit salad, with toast, oatmeal or cereal, or blend them into a recovery smoothie after your sporting event or workout. 

Beans are seeds from the Fabaceae family, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family. Including plant-based protein such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils as part of your fuel for working out can have added benefits because of the extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidant that come in these foods.

Aside from potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc, beans are full of protein and rich in fibre for that complex carbohydrate boost. Beans make filling additions to salads and soups, can be blended into delicious dips, added to tacos or burritos, or served as a simple side dish.

After a workout, opt for berries instead of a bottle of juice. A lot of the fibre in whole fruits is lost as they become juice. Just a handful of fresh berries is an excellent source of nutrients, which protect muscles from free radical damage that might be caused by exercise.

Blueberries, in particular, have many anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to help muscles recover and prevent sore joints after strenuous exercise. Cherries are another good option, but all berries are high in fibre and complex carbohydrates to fuel workouts.

All vegetables are good vegetables when it comes to providing the vitamins and minerals your body needs for optimal performance. But some, including dark, leafy greens and members of the cruciferous family (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale), have higher concentrations of antioxidants, fibre and other important nutrients.

It is recommended that you eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit or vegetables each day. Avoid overcooking vegetables, which causes micronutrients to diminish. Instead, you can steam, blanch, microwave, grill, or roast. 

Starchy foods give us more energy so it’s good to eat brown rice to fuel your workout. Rice supplies the body with fibre, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, proteins, and healthy fat for long-term energy. This whole grain is also a great source of muscle-benefiting magnesium. Brown rice makes a great side dish for lean proteins like chicken or salmon.. 

Nutrient-rich eggs are the perfect protein-packed pre or post-workout fuel. They help to replenish and increase muscle soreness after exercising. In order to get the optimal benefits from eggs, make sure to eat the yolks which contain significant amounts of protein, zinc, choline, and vitamins A and D.

Eggs are also a source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, D, E and B. They’re quick and versatile and can be easily consumed at any time of the day and in 1001 different ways.

Salmon and other seafood are a good source of muscle-building protein and omega-3 which reduces the inflammation that can happen with continual physical activity. Salmon is also rich in minerals including B12 – another critical nutrient for the production of energy for workouts. Get creative and enjoy salmon in burgers, salads or pastas.
Oats are your best friend when it comes to prepping your muscles for a workout as they provide glucose to fuel them. They are a slow-to-digest complex carbohydrate and have a carb-to-protein ratio of 4 to 1 to help provide sustained energy. To start your day, enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with berries and natural yoghurt.
Whole grain quinoa is a perfect slow-burning fuel; packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including several members of the vitamin E family, it not only provides complex carbs but nutrients. Eat quinoa as a side dish, snack or even for breakfast mixed with other performance-enhancing foods on this list.

Ground into butter or eaten straight from your hand, consuming a variety of nuts and seeds is an excellent way to boost the amount of valuable minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium in your diet. Plus, they provide a quick, protein-packed replenishment after a workout.

Whole nuts and seeds make a convenient, nutrient-dense snack, while nut and seed butters can be incorporated into smoothies and oatmeal or paired with fresh fruit or vegetables. Almonds, pistachios, cashews, chia and sunflower seeds are great choices.