By Lori Mork
Nutrition is especially important for a healthy workout. Here are a few tips on what to eat to maximize your exercise:
Whole grain bagels. These bagels provide a constant stream of energy during your workout through the complex carbohydrates they provide, as opposed to the burst of energy and crash you get from simple carbohydrates.
Bananas. High potassium content makes bananas the perfect food to relieve muscle cramps. Not only that, but bananas are paced with carbohydrates and help replace sweat loss by keeping you hydrated.
Berries. Berries are one of the richest foods in antioxidants. They are perfect for helping protect muscles from damage that may be caused by exercise.
Here’s a hint: The darker the color, the healthier the fruit.
Carrots. Containing complex carbohydrates that provide energy and potassium to help control blood pressure and muscle cramps, just a half-cup of carrots has only 35 calories.
Whole grain cereal. Need a quick snack before exercising? Grab a quick bowl of whole grain cereal. Cereal contains complex carbohydrates and protein, and eating an hour before a workout will give you more energy.
Chicken thighs. Chicken thighs, or turkey drumsticks, will fill you with iron and zinc to boost your energy levels. The dark meat is lower in fat than red meat, but has much of the iron, zinc and B vitamins that women need in their diets.
Chocolate milk. Not only chock full of calcium, milk also gives you plenty of vitamins and minerals, and, when combined with cocoa, is a powerful recovery drink that helps repair muscles.
Low-fat cottage cheese. There are 14 grams of protein in each half-cup of this snack, an important factor in repairing those small muscle tears that happen during exercise.
Cranberries. Not just a Thanksgiving specialty, cranberries pack a big carbohydrate punch. They also have proanthocyanins, a compound that helps prevent and battle urinary tract infections.
Eggs. One egg a day, especially the yolk, is a good source of iron, as well as lecithin, which promotes brain health. It also falls under the 300-milligram daily cholesterol limit set by the American Heart Association.
Ground flaxseed. Full of lignans, ground flaxseed has both soluble and insoluble fiber to help keep you regular.
Oranges. A year-round source of vitamin C, oranges also help repair damage to muscles and helps make collagen, the tissue that keeps bones strong.
Peanuts. One study found that female soccer players who added just two ounces of peanuts daily to their regular diet were able to play just as well at the end of a game as they were at the beginning. The extra fat helps to improve endurance.
Potatoes. Help replace your sodium and potassium with a small baked potato and a few shakes of salt. It will help maintain fluid balances in your body and keep muscles from cramping.
Salmon. Not only good for your heart, studies now show that the monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats from salmon may help keep away abdominal fat.
Lori Mork of Lowry is a mother, grandmother and dabbler in all things food, photography and decor related.