Our bodies were made to move! Whether it’s a game of pick-up basketball, round of golf, or Pilates class, movement is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Not only does it strengthen our muscles, bones, and hearts, but it also boosts our mood by releasing those feel-good hormones called endorphins. To perform everyday activities, we need proper nutrients found from our food. Set yourself up for success by giving your body the key to unlock its fullest potential. These essential nutrients will propel you to hold the squat longer, pedal a little farther, or swing the racket harder.
Speaking of nutrients, carbohydrates and protein are two that should be included in your fuel of choice. Carbohydrates are broken down by the body and used as energy. Protein is important in the process of rebuilding muscles after a workout. With the addition of vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables make for wholesome choices when reaching for performance fuel. Enjoy a small snack, rich in protein and carbohydrates, about 1-2 hours before a workout. Avoid skipping breakfast before an early morning workout. At the end of your workout, include a balanced meal within a few hours after working out. For more vigorous workouts, reach for a source of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of exercise.
Now that we know our bodies perform best when fueled, let’s talk about plant-powered snacks to reach for. Your body will thank you!
Full of complex carbohydrates and packed with vitamin A, this fall root veggie is one to keep on hand. Their slow releasing carbohydrates will provide you with long lasting energy rather than a quick burst and then later crash as we tend to find with simple or refined carbohydrates. Vitamin A aides in repairing cell damage and recovery. Shelf stable sweet potatoes are simple to pop in the microwave, wrapped in a damp paper towel to keep it moist, and topped with black beans and avocados. Meal prep this Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes for a fast snack after work before headed to the gym.
With carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium, pears make a great grab and go fruit when thinking about fueling. Vitamin C can help to reduce oxidative stress within your body and promote muscle and tissue repair. Throw them in a gym bag and enjoy with a handful of nuts, sliced on top of whole grain bread with a smear of almond butter, or baked as chips like this simple Asian Pear Chips recipe, and paired with a Greek yogurt dip.
Perhaps not an instant produce pick that comes to mind when thinking about fueling, pumpkin offers minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. These electrolytes are lost during sweat and are important for our heart and muscle function. Pumpkin also provides carbohydrates, making it a great go-to to mix into a smoothie, stir into oatmeal, or bake into a muffin, like these Chia Seed and Pumpkin Muffins. Pumpkin puree can be used in savory dishes, like soups and pasta sauces, too.