Struggling To Get Fit? These Foods Could Help
- Mums Tips
- Fitness & Health
- Published on Monday, 22 July 2019 10:14
- Last Updated on 08 August 2019
- Monica Costa
- 0 Comments
When you think about getting fit, what’s the first thing that comes into your mind? If you’re like most people, it’s long sessions on the treadmill wishing you were doing anything else. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to spend hours running on the spot to get to your desired fitness levels: you could eat your way there.
Food has a profound effect on our bodies. It’s not just a matter of eating well and not laying down fat. Chemicals in food interact with our tissues, making them stronger and more efficient. It seems like magic, but it’s not: it’s all based on real science.
Take a look at the following foods. They could take your fitness to the next level.
Green Vegetables, Including Broccoli
With all the talk about the benefits of protein shakes, green vegetables are often left out of the conversation. No supplement manufacturer is trying to make a quick buck selling you broccoli stalks.
Broccoli and other green vegetables, however, are chock full of goodness that can aid your fitness.
One of the most beneficial compounds is nitrate. Broccoli, rocket, and spinach all contain mountains of the stuff. Nitrate is crucial because it helps to open up blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and making it easier to transport oxygen around your body. If you’re trying to get fit, then basing your food intake around green veggies is a must.
For those who avoid dairy, green vegetables are essential for their calcium content. A serving of broccoli contains a similar level of calcium to a glass of milk, helping you get to the recommended daily allowance of 700 mg per day. Calcium is essential while trying to get fit because it provides the raw materials for bones and transmitting nerve signals to your muscles. Without it, you can feel worn out and unwilling to train.
Tomatoes are beneficial for us in all kinds of ways, but there are two specific things that they do that help with fitness.
The first is that they may help you increase your lean mass. Tomatoes, science shows, can bump up the production of the weight loss hormone leptin. When your leptin levels are high, you’re less inclined to snack on junk or overeat at mealtimes. Leptin gives you the sense that you’re full and have enough calories to see you through.
The second mechanism is through the action of lycopene. Lycopene is a critical phytonutrient and antioxidant in tomatoes. It’s what gives tomatoes their characteristic red, orange and yellow colouration. It’s important because it helps to improve recovery time — people who have high levels of antioxidants in their bodies before exercise experience less muscle soreness afterwards. Less muscle soreness means being able to get back to training sooner than otherwise.
The law on nutritional advice in the UK says that professionals can’t claim any specific food to treat a condition. However, trainers are allowed to recommend specific foods, like brazil nuts, to help people bust through fitness plateaus.
Brazil nuts are a vital part of the diet for a couple of reasons. The main benefit is the fact that nuts appear to have an appetite-suppressing quality. People who eat nuts as a snack before 4 pm tend to eat less in the evenings and consume fewer calories during the day. Despite their high calorie content, nuts are extraordinarily satiating, making them ideal for those interested in fitness.
The other benefit is their high concentration of selenium. Selenium isn’t found in many foods in high concentration, but our cardiovascular system needs it to work at peak efficiency. Without it, you can feel sluggish and unwilling to train.
Blueberries are the quintessential “superfood,” and for good reasons. Researchers have found that blueberries have many beneficial effects on the body. But what about fitness?
Aside from the high antioxidant capacity, blueberries are a great way to refuel after exercise. Unlike many post-exercise snacks, blueberries are relatively low on the glycaemic index. What’s more, they’re packed with vitamins, fructose and minerals, helping your body replenish reserves lost during exercise.
Fenugreek is a type of herb used often in eastern cuisine. It’s not so well known in the West, but for people interested in fitness, it’s vital.
Researchers used to think that the amount of energy your body could extract from a given amount of oxygen was fixed at the cellular level. It was just a chemical reaction, and there’s nothing more that could be done. But new evidence suggests that fenugreek may help people get more energy from every breath, improving their fitness.
The precise way that fenugreek works isn’t yet known, but it appears to have constituents which make the reactions in cells more efficient. You need less oxygen per unit of work when you eat fenugreek – a remarkable finding.
Including fenugreek in cooking is a challenge. It has a strong and unusual taste. Taking it in pill form, however, is easy, and something that anyone can do. What’s more, it’s a natural spice, so it’s perfectly safe.
Bananas, like dozens of fruits and vegetables, are high in potassium. Potassium is lost through the skin in sweat when we exercise. Bananas, therefore, are a great way to top up lost stocks and return your electrolyte levels to optimal.
Beetroot isn’t the most consumed vegetable on the planet, thanks to its earthy flavour. But it is one of the most powerful for enhancing fitness. Just like green leafy veggies, beetroot is high in beneficial nitrates. It’s so packed with them that it can make people feel light-headed when they stand up following a fall in blood pressure. Beetroot is packed with healthy sources of energy, helping you to refuel.
Sleep is an important aspect of getting fit. Most of the adaptation to training happens in the sack. But to benefit, you have to get a lot of quality rest – not easy if you’re a busy mum. Cherries, however, may help people sleep slightly longer.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums