You’ve heard it before: Wellness is 80 percent diet and 20 percent working out. That balance shifts slightly person-to-person, but overall the sentiment is true. You can’t out-work a poor diet. There are foods that are nutritious, but then there are foods that go that extra mile. Did you know that some foods can specifically improve your workout depending on when you consume them and in what quantity?
Here are five foods, vitamins and supplements to add to your diet and the workouts they pair best with:
1. Over 20 grams of protein. Whether you get it from whey-based protein powder, or a generous portion of beans, protein is absolutely critical to repair muscles. These foods that are meant to power you up should be consumed as soon after a workout as possible (and certainly within 30 minutes). Strength training can include weight lifting, body weight exercises, or anything designed to increase muscle size. If you don’t consume protein, your muscles can’t repair themselves and your workout is nearly moot.
2. BCAAs. BCAAs are key branch chain amino acids that your body produces naturally. However, your body quickly depletes them during rigorous workouts, including both cardio and strength training. You can sip on BCAA-infused water before, during, and after a workout. There are sugar-free, zero-calorie options available that you simply add to water.
3. Warm lemon water. Instead of a cup of coffee in the morning, drink eight ounces of warm water with a fresh-squeezed lemon. It kickstarts the metabolism and oral hygiene for the day. It’s part of an Ayurvedic practice but can also increase fat burning the second you wake up. Plus, it may help wean you off of caffeine. After thirty minutes, you can drink, eat, brush your teeth, and go about your day.
4. Water. It’s not a food, but it’s vital to keep you hydrated. Aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day (i.e. a 150-pound person should drink at least 75 ounces of water). “Water” can count in tea, protein shakes, and BCAA water, but try to avoid soda and fruit juices. Your body quickly becomes dehydrated when working out, and it’s your job to keep it balanced. Most Americans don’t drink enough water and are chronically dehydrated, which can lead to overeating.
5. Hot spices. Spices like cayenne pepper can increase your metabolism and help you burn fat faster and better. You can add spice to your food or take it as a supplement. However, make sure to regularly take it throughout the day and not in one fell swoop to keep those metabolism levels high.
What you eat, when, and why is just as important as following a fitness regimen. How are you fueling your workouts?