Just as you need to change your workouts periodically to keep them fresh and meet your performance goals, you should consider varying your nutrition. Don't pretend drinking the same pre-workout shake day after day doesn't bore you to tears. Mix up your next pre-workout snack by including one of these four super foods. Research shows that they all have the nutrients to power you through any kind of training.
If you find yourself continually wearing down in the middle of your workouts, consider fueling with beets. (Brandon Bass likes to mix them in his smoothies.) A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found runners who ate at least a seven-ounce serving of beets before their workout ran three percent faster than usual. This is mostly due to the nitrates found in beets, which help deliver oxygen to muscles faster during high-intensity exercise.
How can you enjoy this dark root vegetable? Try the simple roasting method. Peel and cut four beets into bite-sized cubes and mix them with olive oil and salt. Place them on a baking sheet, making sure they don't touch, and roast them at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes or until tender.
Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed athletes who munched daily on up to three ounces of watercress for eight weeks before strenuous sessions suffered less muscle damage, thanks to the beta carotene and vitamin E. Your body uses these nutrients to flush waste out of muscles and speed up repair. Watercress has a spicy taste, so if you don't like it, try kale or swiss chard, which provide similar benefits. (Learn how to use sports nutrition to heal faster.) Toss watercress in a salad with a splash of olive oil for better nutrient absorption. You can also roast hearty kale by combining olive oil, salt and garlic with the kale on a baking sheet (spreading the leaves apart) and baking at 425 degree F until the leaves are crisp—about seven to 12 minutes.
Tomatoes are full of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps combat tissue damage. Research published in the Nutrition Journal showed drinking five ounces of tomato juice reduced cell damage during an intense cycling test. Pick some up from your local grocery store or blend your own. To mix your own V-8 juice, blend together tomatoes, onions, sugar (to taste), salt, pepper and hot sauce. Put the mixture in a large pot, bring to boil and simmer for 25 miuntes. Once cooled, strain the juice and enjoy.
Aching muscles may follow a good workout, but that doesn't mean they're fun to live with. Before you head to the weight room today, try eating some ginger. Studies show consuming half a teaspoon of raw or ground ginger can lessen next-day muscle soreness up to 25 percent. This is because ginger contains the pain-relieving chemicals gingerol, shogaol and zingerone. The Journal of Pain suggests that ginger can be more effective than popping NSAIDs. How can you ingest it before a workout? Drop a few slices of fresh ginger into your tea, use ground ginger as a marinade, blend it into a smoothie or buy pickled or ginger paste from the store to eat plain or as a garnish on a sandwich or salad.
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