From protein powders to creatine to nitric oxide boosters, there are tons of workout-enhancing supplements on the market. But did you know that you can boost your workout performance simply by eating certain foods? It’s true! Studies have shown that whole foods often work better than supplements for boosting workout performance.
Whether you’re a long-distance runner, a weightlifter or you’re just starting to begin your fitness journey, you might want to try adding the following foods to your diet.
Researchers have known for several years that beets improve athletic performance. Beets are high in nitrates, which can kick our mitochondria (the powerhouses of our cells) into hyperdrive. This reduces the “oxygen cost” of exercise, meaning we can do more exercise with the same amount of oxygen.
In one experiment, people who ate one and a half cups of beets before running a 5k performed significantly better than people who ate a similar amount of berries and ran the same race. If you want to increase your endurance, eating beets or drinking beet juice is a good bet.
When you exercise, lactic acid can build up in your muscles, causing cramps that may force you to stop what you’re doing. As you exercise more, your body will naturally build new blood vessels in your muscles to solve that problem. But there is evidence that drinking orange juice can enhance your body’s ability to clear away lactic acid.
In this study, researchers recruited overweight women with sedentary lifestyles and started them on an exercise program. Half drank two cups of orange per day, and the other half did not. After 3 months, the women who drank orange juice had significantly lower levels of lactate in their blood.
Some studies have shown that the scent of peppermint can improve athlete motivation, leading to better performance. There was also a study that tested the effects of regularly drinking water with a few drops of peppermint essential oil in it. The study participants significantly increased their power output and time until exhaustion after drinking the peppermint water for 10 days.
It is important to note that peppermint essential oil can be toxic if consumed even in small doses. The study participants drank water that contained only 0.05 ml of peppermint essential oil for every 500 ml of water. The safest way to consume peppermint is by brewing peppermint tea, or adding mint leaves to your smoothies.
That soreness that you get the day after a workout is due to tiny tears in your muscles. These little tissue tears will encourage your muscles to grow stronger, but soreness can be a big problem when you want to maintain a daily exercise regimen. Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen are one solution to this problem, but there is also a food that can help: watermelon.
This study found that athletes who drank watermelon juice experienced significantly less muscle soreness than athletes who drank a placebo drink. This is because watermelon is high in L-Citrulline, an amino acid that reduces muscle soreness and fatigue.
Eating a good diet is essential for maintaining a regular exercise regimen. But the above healthy foods are super stars when it comes to boosting athletic performance. Try incorporating them into your diet and see where your fitness journey takes you.
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