Energy boosting powders, gels and tablets do wonders when we're training hard to conquer those QoM's, but they come with a hefty price tag.
Eating a healthy balanced diet is crucial for getting the most out of your exercises. It's important to provide your body with everything it needs to refuel, repair, gain muscle and recover. Whilst protein powders and glucose tablets give your body a concentrated punch of what it needs, it works just as well to get your healthy fix from natural food sources.
We've rounded up the best natural foods to supplement your supplements with.
Beetroot - Stamina
This red rooty vegetable is a staple food amongst athletes thanks to its high nitrate content. When our bodies breakdown them down, they are converted into nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels in our body.
This effect allows an increase in oxygen uptake in the blood stream, which lowers the amount we need during exercise. By reducing the amount of oxygen we require to reach optimum performance, it slows down the rate of fatigue so you can get a longer work out from your muscles.
Thankfully, the same affect has been found dark chocolate which is a lot tastier than beetroot!
Honey - Energy
We love honey, it's tasty, natural and good for you!
Not only does it have anti-bacterial properties, but the complex sugars found in honey are slow-releasing. Studies have found that eating honey before exercise has increased power, speed and maintain higher energy levels.
It's easy to introduce honey into your daily diet: on toast, in tea and as a porridge topping
Caffeine - Power
Being less of a vitamin or nutrient, caffeine works more like a drug as a mental stimulant. Unlike most drugs, this one is found in a variety of foods, energy bars and drinks. And it's legal, obvs.
Caffeine works by triggering a production of endorphins in the brain which can help block the feeling of pain and fatigue. In addition to this numbing sensation, caffeine can increase our concentration levels and boost our alertness.
Our bodies stores glycogen as fuel, caffeine has been found to aid the replenishment of those fuel cells to have you ready for your next workout.
Fish Oils - Recovery
Fish is a brilliant source of protein, and the fatty oils contained within fish are rich in Omega-3.
Whilst protein is essential for muscle health and repair, the Omega-3 properties strengthen the immune system and controls inflammation in the body after a workout.
One of the best things you can do for your body is provide it with sufficient rest which is when your muscles recover - and fish can even help wit that. Fish oils contain a wealthy amount of Vitamin B6 which helps produce melatonin in the body - and melatonin is a sleepy hormone which helps you rest.
Blueberries - Inflammation
If fish oils aren't to your taste, then another inflammation blueberries are another inflammation busting food. Fortunately for us, they are healthy, tasty and make for a perfect snack.
These little gems are brimming with goodness: anti-oxidants and vitamins to help boost your immune system.
Green Tea - Burning Calories
Who doesn't love a nice warm brew after a tough ride? Water is essential for our bodies so we stay hydrated.
Green tea is another anti-oxidant rich item on the list, with an extra boost of caffeine. So why is green tea good for training? Well certain properties within green tea boosts your metabolic rate which aids with fat oxidisation, leading to extra calorie burning - great if you want to boost that elusive power to weight margin.
Watermelon - Muscle Soreness
Over 90% of a watermelon is just water, making is a refreshing and hydrating fruit that's also crammed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and our favourite... anti-oxidants.
One particular amino acid found in watermelons is citrulline, which has been found to reduce muscle soreness through benefiting artery functions.
Like with most fruit and vegetables...fresh is best!
Probiotics - Immunity
Probiotics can be found in a variety of dairy foods, and they are incredibly good for your body and mind.
They are essentially full of living bacteria which is naturally found in your gut. This good bacteria is needed for healthy digestion, so by taking probiotic drinks and yoghurt, you're helping to re-populate the good bacteria.
By having a healthy gut, you'll be giving yourself a happy mind as serotonin production takes place in the stomach as well.
Glucosamine - Injury Protection
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body. It's primary function is to help with the cartilage between the joints, and the lubrication of them also.
With excessive exercise, and age, we can cause damage and wear to the cartilage in our joints. This cartilage is impact absorbing and helps with mobility. If there's wear or damage, problems can occur which can lead to considerable pain.
This amino acid is commonly found in all sorts of foods, but higher does can be found in crustaceans and the cartilage of animals: pig snouts and ears.
So if you fancy ditching the powders and saving some pennies, introduce these tasty and healthy food supplements into your balanced diet.
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