If you’re looking to get fit and healthy, exercising and dieting is not enough. You have to eat the right foods as well. As women, you have specific nutritional needs. Women’s Health names the best fitness foods for women.
A lot of women do not include avocados in their diet because they think that it is packed with fats. But what most women do not know is that avocados contain monounsaturated fats – good fats – that help lower cholesterol, and keep your body strong and pain free. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Buffalo found that "women runners who ate less 20 percent fat were more likely to suffer injuries" than those who ate at least 31 percent fat.
According to Peter J. Horvath, PhD., a professor at the university, it could be that the problem is associated with extreme low-fat diets that weaken muscles and joints. Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says, "A few slices of avocado a day are a great way to boost fat for women who are fat shy."
Whole grain bagels
According to Jackie Berning, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and counselor to sports teams, carbs are the most advantageous workout food. But Berning says, "Not the simple ones, because they wind you up and drop you down." Complex carbohydrates are the way to go. A whole-grain bagel is an ideal pre-workout snack because it gets digested slowly because of all the fiber, which means you’ll have a steady stream of energy rather than one huge surge.
Muscle cramps are often caused by lack of sodium. However, research show that potassium plays an important role as well. Potassium replaces sweat losses and aids in fluid absorption. And bananas are one of the best sources of this nutrient. They are a good source of energizing carbohydrate as well. A medium sized fruit contains 400mg of potassium and as many carbs as two slices of whole-wheat bread.
Berries chockfull of antioxidants. In fact, the USDA researchers placed fresh berries on their list of the 20 foods richest in antioxidants. A handful of berries (blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries) already provide enough antixodants to protect muscles from free radical damage that might be caused by exercise. When shopping for berries, look at the shade of their skin: the deeper the color, the healthier the fruit.
According to Leslie Bonci, R.D., carrots are full of complex carbohydrates that transport energy to muscles. They also contain potassium that controls blood pressure and muscle contraction – and a half cup of this vegetable contains only 35 calories.
Whole grain cereal
If you want something to fill you up before you get sweating, go for your whole grain cereals. Whole grain cereals contain complex carbs that boost endurance. They also contain protein which builds muscle. An hour before you hit the gym, load up on ¾ cup of whole grain cereal with 4 ounces of fat-free milk. Leslie Bonci, R.D. says, "When you eat something before exercising, you have more energy, so you can work out harder and perhaps longer. And you’ll be less likely to overeat afterward."
Poultry meat is not only lower in fat than red meat, they also contain iron and zinc – nutrients that will help sustain your energy; dark-meat poultry that is. Seattle sports nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., and author of Power Eating, says "Dark-meat poultry is significantly lower in fat than red meat yet has all the iron, zinc, and B vitamins that women need in their diets."
Nutrition experts call milk a "near perfect food." not surprising since is a good source of calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It fuels the body with lots of valuable energy without filling you up with calories. Recent studies show that milk with a bit of cocoa is just as efficient as commercial recovery at replenishing and repairing muscles.
Low fat cottage cheese
Low fat cottage cheese is packed with protein. Just a half cup provides 14g of protein that is critical to healing microscopic tears happen when we exercise, says says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, R.D., health education manager at Cleveland’s Fairview Hospital. Low fat cottage cheese is also a good source of calcium (75mg) and carbs (5g).
Cranberries are a good source of pre- or post- workout carbs. They’re also packed with proanthocyanins, compounds that help prevent and fight urinary tract infections.
Source: Women’s Health