Are you looking for ways to give your active lifestyle an extra boost? Eating certain foods can provide incredible health benefits that will help you reach your fitness goals.
However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information we consume (no pun intended!) about this topic, so luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 foods that are scientifically proven to improve your physical and mental wellness.
Read on to find out more about how adding these foods to your diet can improve your overall fitness performance and health.
Ten foods for the best fitness performance
Next time you’re doing your weekly shop, make sure you pick up the foods included in this list to maximise the benefits of your workouts.
1Salmon – the perfect source of omega-3 fatty acids
Salmon is a fantastic source when looking to improve performance and overall health. Salmon is a protein-rich food source that can help in building muscle and supporting recovery post-workout.
Salmon not only helps reduce the risk of all-cause mortality but could be beneficial in decreasing the chances of certain illnesses; in fact, research has found that eating salmon at least twice a week can lead to a 36% lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease. Salmon also supplies numerous essential nutrients like vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, helping to improve cognitive abilities and maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails.
2Bananas will reduce the risk of cramps
Bananas are a nutritional powerhouse that every fitness enthusiast needs in their arsenal. Bananas are packed full of vitamins, potassium, and beneficial compounds which make them an obvious choice for those who wish to improve their fitness performance. Studies have consistently shown that bananas can help improve performance when consumed before and during exercise, as well as after a workout to help with recovery.
Furthermore, one study found that those with lower potassium intakes had a four times higher all-cause mortality risk compared to those with higher intakes. This will significantly reduce the risk of getting cramps. Bananas are extremely high in antioxidants and dietary fibre, which can support digestive health. Bananas are naturally low in calories which makes them a healthier food choice when compared to other snacks.
3Eggs will provide you with healthy fats
Eggs are a nutrient-packed food for all types of fitness goals, from bodybuilding to endurance training. Eggs contain several essential nutrients like protein and healthy fats, which can provide sustained energy during an intense workout session.
When paired with other foods, such as plant-based proteins or raw vegetables, eggs can become the perfect pre or post-workout meal. Scientific studies have found that people who regularly eat eggs as part of a balanced diet are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type-2 diabetes. Eggs can easily be integrated into various types of diets and make for an easy meal on the go.
4Almonds – a great snack full of vitamins and minerals
Almonds are abundant with fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats, making them a worthy addition to any health-conscious diet. Scientific evidence has shown that almonds help improve fitness performance and overall health. In fact, research has found that almonds may increase the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol by 14%, whilst also reducing ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and abdominal fat.
Consuming almonds has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular risk by up to 25%, and stroke mortality by 18%. The best part? Almonds are super accessible and simple to add to your daily diet; just grab a handful for on-the-go-snacking or sprinkle them in salads and cereals – almonds are one of the most versatile superfoods out there!
5Oats are a fibre-rich source of power
Plain rolled oats are an incredibly nutritious and beneficial food to include in your fitness and health routine. Not only are oats a good source of dietary fibre, but they can also play a role in reducing the mortality risk from certain illnesses.
One study found that higher oat consumption is associated with a 21% lowered risk of type 2 diabetes and a 14% reduced risk of death related to all-cause mortality. Eating oats regularly has been credited with improving overall energy levels due to their slow-releasing carbohydrates and B vitamins. Therefore, adding oats to your diet can help give you more energy not just during intense workout sessions but also throughout the day!
6Chicken helps build muscle mass
Chicken is a lean source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, and numerous scientific studies have revealed that chicken lovers are reaping incredible rewards from their dietary choice.
Eating chicken regularly may contribute to improved fitness performance because it helps build muscle mass, repairs tissues, and nourishes the body with essential nutrients for optimal energy production. Research shows that eating chicken on a regular basis helps you keep a healthy weight, and also reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease by 19% and cancer by 53%. This evidence suggests that adding chicken to one’s diet can help improve general well-being and even potentially extend life expectancy. Ultimately then, chicken is not only a delicious addition to your plate – it’s also a nutritious choice for enhanced athletic performance and greater health benefits.
7Green vegetables will improve your cardio
Green vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, supporting overall health and energy levels.
Scientific evidence has demonstrated that eating green vegetables on a regular basis reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 16%, and all-cause mortality also. Eating green vegetables aids in increased energy levels as well as improved digestion and lower cholesterol levels, both of which are essential to long-term health and fitness success. Add them to your daily routine, such as in salads, stir-fries or smoothies, to gain these benefits.
8Berries aid in muscle recovery
Recent studies have shown that berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and redcurrant, among others) can help reduce the risk of mortality due to certain illnesses, such as stroke and cancer. In fact, one study found that consuming berries on a regular basis could reduce the risk of these diseases by up to 20%.
Additionally, berries are high in antioxidants which can help improve physical performance by aiding in muscle recovery after workouts as well as providing an energy boost for activities like HIIT. The added bonus is that berries offer great flavour with little sugar content which helps limit calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight. Not only do berries provide these fantastic benefits, but they taste great too! Whether you decide to incorporate berries into your smoothie or sprinkle them on top of your favourite yoghurt, you’ll be doing your body a favour and increasing your chances of fitness success and improved health.
9Quinoa increases energy levels
Not only is quinoa high in protein, fibre, and other essential vitamins and minerals, but it has also been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of certain illnesses and even mortality rates.
One study found that consuming quinoa daily significantly decreased the risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. Eating quinoa can boost athletic performance by increasing energy levels and reducing recovery time; quinoa is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Furthermore, quinoa contains antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress along with digestive-friendly fibres which help aid in digestion. Eating quinoa every day can not only improve your physical performance but also gives you peace of mind knowing that you are decreasing your risk of multiple illnesses.
10Dark chocolate can boost endurance
Dark chocolate has been hailed as a health-promoting food in recent years thanks to scientific evidence that points to its potential benefits. Studies have linked dark chocolate consumption with a decrease in insulin resistance, heart disease risk, and cholesterol level improvements, making dark chocolate a significant asset for fitness performance. In fact, dark chocolate can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 16% and type 2 diabetes by 13%.
Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium which can reduce muscle cramps, and also contains caffeine which has been linked to prolonged athletic performance. For those looking to improve their quality of life through better nutrition and fitness, dark chocolate is an ideal snack that provides an array of health benefits. But, remember: everything works well in moderation and dark chocolate is no exception to the rule.
How can you add these foods to your diet?
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring; making small but strategic changes to your diet can make a big, long-term difference in your health and fitness. Here are a few practical tips to get you started.
1. Try to plan out meals ahead of time, which will make grocery shopping easier and ensure that you have healthy options readily available when hunger strikes.
2. Forget about traditional ‘dieting’ where you severely restrict yourself; instead, focus on starving off cravings by eating well-balanced meals throughout the day.
3. Look for new recipes that incorporate these foods to keep meals exciting and varied
4. Vary what you’re eating by incorporating new fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains into your routine while cutting down on added sugars and processed foods.
Fun facts about fitness & nutrition
Eating a source of fat alongside vegetables will ensure maximum nutrient absorption.
Sugars spikes will cause your energy to take a quick dip; try eating small meals throughout the day instead.
Eating proteins with complex carbohydrates after a workout helps muscle recovery.
If you’re looking for an edge in your fitness performance or just want to improve your overall health, consider incorporating some of the foods listed above into your diet. These changes don’t have to be drastic – even small steps in the right direction can make a big difference. So why not give it a try? You may be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate these healthy foods into your daily routine – and how good you feel when you do.
Receive Exclusive Tips & Weekly Digest – subscribe to our newsletter