Today we’re on the hunt for good, clean, long lasting energy. In order to have a successful workout on your treadmill or elliptical, meals that are complete with a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein will provide a boost of sustained energy. This combination happens to digest much more slowly and raise blood glucose levels for prolonged periods.
Of course, eating sweets and candy will give you a boost of quick energy, but your body will crash before finish a good warm up. Continue reading to discover foods, which are probably already in your regular diet, that are high in protein and good carbohydrates.
Lentils are a great source of carbs, protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, and copper. They will provide you with a great pre-workout energy boost and they’re also low in fat and calories, so they make for a great all-around snack.
Bananas and other fruits
Believe it or not, bananas are packed with goodies that are essential to your workout. Bananas are packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining proper nerve and muscle function. Since your body doesn’t store this nutrient for long periods, an intense workout is enough to make your potassium level drop. Apples, peaches, pineapples, and grapes are also good choices for an energizing snack.
Trail mix is a great source of phosphorous and zinc. The first promotes muscle growth and boosts energy, and the second speeds up muscle healing. Look for a healthy mix that includes nuts and dried fruits; avoid varieties with high-sugar ingredients such as M&Ms. The dried fruit will provide you with healthy sugars for a quick energy boost, while the seeds and nuts will prevent your insulin level from dropping. Just beware of quantity; although the fat in trail mix is “healthy” fat, it can still cause you to pack on the pounds. So eat about a half a cup to stay on the healthy side.
The magnesium in yogurt can give you an energy kick for your workout as it activates enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of protein and carbs. It also provides the explosive source of energy used for lifting weights. Therefore, yogurt is a good choice before both cardio and weightlifting sessions.
Since oats are full of fiber, they are low on the glycemic index. Therefore, the carbs are released into your bloodstream gradually, keeping your energy levels constant during your workout. They also contain B vitamins, which are energizing, stress-lowering, and help to convert carbs into energy.
If you’re paying attention, you might be wondering why you were told to avoid fat before a workout and are now being told to eat almonds, which are full of fat. The difference is that the monounsaturated fats found in almonds and other nuts provide energy-boosting essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s. The fats you should be avoiding before exercising are saturated ones like cheese and butter, which will make you tired and lethargic.
Whole Wheat/Grain Pasta
Although many have written off pasta due to the anti-carb trend, it remains a great source of complex carbs, which help increase stored energy in the muscles. When your glycogen stores are depleted, your body starts relying on anaerobic metabolism for energy, which makes your workout much more difficult. Not only that, your muscles will begin to produce lactic acid that will cause that burning sensation. Stick to whole-wheat pasta and keep your portions small or allow two to three hours for digestion before your workout.
Lastly, you should eat carbohydrate-rich foods and fluids within 1 to 2 hours after hard exercise to replace the glycogen that you burned off. Muscles are most receptive to refueling at this time. A simple post-exercise refuel might be fruit juice — a rich source of not only fluids and carbohydrates but also potassium and vitamins.