Maybe you’re already familiar with good dieting practices for high performance at the gym—complex carbohydrates for energy, plenty of water to stay hydrated, fruits for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But there are plenty of foods well off the radar of the common gym-goer, foods that can improve performance, speed recovery, and help you maintain your energy levels without relying on dubious energy drinks and overloaded protein mixes. Today, we’re going to cover five of those beneficial foods—items you may not have considered before in the context of the gym, and won’t want to forget.
5 Beneficial Foods for the Gym
Milk certainly isn’t for everyone—if you’re even the slightest bit lactose intolerant, stay well away before any exercise—but there are quite a few intriguing benefits for those that can digest it without issue.
- Research shows improvements in fat loss and muscle gain in those who drink milk to recover over an energy drink.
- Surprisingly, milk hydrates better and faster than water, offering a perfect blend of water, protein, carbs, electrolytes, and fats.
- Studies show chocolate milk operates nearly as effectively as protein shakes as a post-exercise recharger.
- Exercise means building bones as much as it means building muscle, and milk offers the calcium you need.
Again, you’ll want to stay away if you have milk digestion issues, but for those who don’t it works wonders.
Beets in any form have come to be known as something of a wonder food. Drinking beet root juice has shown any number of health benefits in a clinical setting, including:
- Reductions of high blood pressure
- 20% stamina gains in those who drank it shortly before exercise
The benefits are theorized to derive from the natural nitrates found in the juice.
You might already be chomping down tuna tin by tin, but next time you’re at the market consider mackerel.
- Higher omega-3 content keeps post-workout inflammation to a minimum
- Zinc keeps testosterone levels stable and healthy, allowing for superior gains and harder regimens—especially important as a counter to the natural decrease in thyroid production intense training can generate.
This, along with the well-documented benefits of fish as a lean protein, makes mackerel a wonder for the fitness-minded.
Vinegar doesn’t offer a long list of secret fitness and health benefits like some of the foods on this list, but it does offer a big one: helping your body put carbs to better use. Studies show that adding vinegar to a meal with dense carbohydrates encourages your body to more quickly and efficiently store those carbohydrates as muscle glycogen—speeding recovery, and refueling you for your next gym visit.
Not just for waking up before you get there—research has shown that drinking coffee shorlty before exercise unleashes a host of benefits to the fitness-minded.
- If you’re looking to lose weight, the fat-burning properties which encourage your body to consume fat cells before glycogen might catch your interest.
- If you’re looking for a performance boost, studies how shown a clear edge over non-caffeinated athletes, in stamina, output, and focus.
- Muscle pain slowing you down? Drinking coffee beforehand will reduce pain during workouts.
- And of course, let’s not forget the inverse correlation of coffee with diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and several varieties of cancer.
Few foods or beverages can boast such as range of benefits (and have the research to back the claims up).