8 Perfect Fitness Foods
Spinach is muscle fuel. But not because it instantly turns you lean and sexy. Researchers from Rutgers University found that a compound in the leafy green increases protein synthesis by 120%, helping your muscle tissue to repair itself faster after you work out. The problem, however, is that you'd have to eat Popeye-sized quantities to experience dramatic results (I'm talking almost 2 pounds of the iron-packed veggies a day!). The good news is that spinach isn't the only food that can help you to look and feel better than ever---even when you aren't exercising. The right fitness foods burn fat, build muscle, and even boost your cardiovascular health. These 8 great foods and drinks are guaranteed to make any type of exercise you do more effective--long after you've broken a sweat.
Pineapple and Papaya
Good for: Muscle Recovery
Both of these tropical fruits are loaded with bromelain and papain, enzymes that not only help break down proteins for digestion but also have anti-inflammatory properties to speed up your post-workout recovery.
Good for: Cardiovascular Fitness
Australian researchers found that cyclists who took fish oil for 8 weeks had lower heart rates and consumed less oxygen during intense bicycling than a control group did. The fatty acids in fish oil need to become incorporated into muscle and heart cells to have an effect, and that takes weeks of consumption--so either take fish oil pills each day or try to eat fish rich in fatty acids multiple times a week to see similar results.
PB&J and Pasta with Meat Sauce
Good for: Muscle building and repair
The perfect post-weight training repast has about 400 calories with 20 to 30 grams of protein to build new muscle and 50 to 65 grams of carbohydrates to repair muscle.
Good for: Waist Trimming
Lean meats are a great low-calorie source of protein and scientists found that eating more protein reduces the fat around your midsection.
8 Ounces of Chocolate Milk
Good for: Hydration
The best sports drink comes from a cow and is useful to rehydrate the body after exercise. Milk has electrolytes and potassium and the addition of chocolate gives milk the perfect a balance of carbs, protein, amd fat for speady muscle recovery.
Good for: Pain relief
Taking a caffeine supplement equal to two cups of coffee after exercise reduces muscle soreness more than pain relievers can. Caffeine blocks a chemical that activates pain receptors.
Good for: Endurance
Drinkimg cold water before and during exercise can help improve your endurance. Cyclists who drank 30 ounces of a chilled drink in the half hour before riding in a hot. humid environment--and smaller amounts as they rode--were able to bike 23% longer than riders who downed lukewarm liquids.
Good for: Muscle Recovery
Participans who consumed three cups of green tea every for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise.