Eat a rich diet
Every journey has its ups and downs. Exercise can get particularly bumpy when you’re feeling low on energy and sore from your three-day-old workout. Proper nutrition can break through some of these barriers by enhancing performance and recovery.
To really reap the benefits of your hard work at the gym, focus on eating a diet rich in antioxidants, minerals, protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. To put the spring back in your workout routine, Vancouver-based holistic nutritionist Rich Ralph recommends “eating mindfully and focusing on a whole foods diet.” Next time you’re feeling achy and sluggish, indulge in these tasty ideas to power your workout.
1. Chia seeds
Why they’re good: “Chia seeds have near double the protein of other seeds and grains, approximately five times the calcium of milk and double the potassium of bananas,” says Ralph. Athletes need to keep their bones strong and the calcium from chia seeds is especially easy for the body to absorb.
When to eat them: “This makes a great snack 15 to 20 minutes after the workout,” says Ralph. For instance, try adding a handful of chia seeds to your post-workout smoothie. For optimal recovery, Ralph also suggests adding chia seeds to a big salad two to four hours later.
Expert tip: If you’re in a pinch for time, Ralph recommends cutting an apple into wedges and sprinkling chia seeds on top for a quick and nutritious calcium and vitamin hit.
Why they’re good: The protein in eggs, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of an egg’s makeup, consists of all eight essential amino acids crucial in muscle and bone cell growth and regeneration. Eggs are also a source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, D, E and B.
When to eat them: Have eggs within 20 to 30 minutes of your workout. Hard-boiled eggs are also an ideal mid-workout snack for endurance athletes. “I eat eggs as a post-workout recovery snack,” says Ralph, who rollerbladed from St. John’s, Nfld., to Vancouver, B.C., in only four months back in 2007.
Expert tip: When buying eggs, Ralph advises doing your research and making sure you’re getting free-range, pastured eggs. This avoids any potential health risks associated with added stimulants, antibiotics or hormones sometimes used in non-organic dairy farms.