There is a relatively new buzz word that you may hear in the health and fitness world, superfoods. So, what are these foods? Can they enhance your performance while exercising?
The foods often referred to as superfoods are foods that have been around for a long time, some of them have even been used for centuries.
There is evidence that these foods may provide a boost to your exercise performance if included in an already healthy, balanced diet. These are whole foods that are naturally high in nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
The foods listed as superfoods will give you a much more significant punch of nutrition in a smaller dose than other fruits and vegetables. Each of the foods considered to be superfoods may provide different benefits if eaten either before or after your workout.
Some of them may give you extra energy or speed up your recovery time after a workout.
Let’s look at a few of these superfoods and what they might be able to do for you.
Chia seeds have been used for centuries, including by Aztec warriors to provide energy and endurance during battle. Chia seeds contain high levels of Omega 3s, zinc, iron, B vitamins, magnesium and calcium, and much more.
They are one of the best plant-based protein sources available.
Since chia seeds are so easy for the body to digest, it makes all of their benefits more readily available. Recent research suggests that these seeds are beneficial in building strong bones and muscles which makes them perfect for athletes.
Rich in antioxidants, chia seeds help replace nutrients lot while exercising. Also, because of their absorption properties they help prolong your hydration during long workouts. This versatile seed can be added whole to smoothies or salads and ground to use in baking.
Maca is a plant native to the mountains of Peru that has become very popular in recent years. Maca has been used in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years for its medicinal qualities.
You can most commonly find maca ground into a powder form or in supplement form.
Maca may provide increased energy, improved focus, and enhanced immunity. It is a natural substance that can help the body overcome and adapt to stressors, like exercising. People often report an increased sense of well-being after consuming maca, which may be due to the root’s ability to help balance hormones and raise your endorphin levels.
High in protein, fiber, calcium, and magnesium, maca will provide you with a significant source of nutrition. With its energizing capabilities, maca is usually consumed before working out, but may also help reduce inflammation post workout.
If you are looking to increase your consumption of Omega 3s, look no further than acai berries. Each serving contains more of this vital fatty acid than a serving of salmon.
With a taste that is a mix of chocolate and blueberries this sweet fruit may help protect the cells in your body from damage by free radicals. The acai berry, like all berries, contains an anti-inflammatory nutrient called anthocyanin which may help reduce muscle soreness after a strenuous workout.
Some studies have found that acai might be the most powerful of all the berries in providing you with protective antioxidants. If you’re looking to lose weight, acai berries are also believed to help control appetite and improve your metabolism.
One way to get your servings of acai is in an acai smoothie bowl, which has become very popular at many health food restaurants.
Cherries are another antioxidant-rich fruit that you might want to consider adding to your diet. They can provide you with a wide range of performance and recovery benefits. Cherries contain potent anti-inflammatory anthocyanin which is exceptionally beneficial after a long grueling workout.
People who consume tart cherry juice may see a drastic reduction in their post-workout pain levels. Cherries may also help improve your ability to sleep by increasing melatonin which will give you more energy to work out the next day.
Consuming cherries may help regulate receptors in your body’s tissues which help to metabolize fat.
Matcha tea has a long history in the Japanese culture. It may be one of the most antioxidant-rich sources available. It is believed that matcha can have as much as five times the amount of antioxidants as any other food.
Green teas contain an antioxidant called catechin. Matcha green tea is very high in a catechin called EGCg, widely known for its cancer-fighting properties. Matcha has been shown to help people relax while remaining alert thanks to L-Theanine which increases the production of alpha waves in the brain.
Used by Samurai warriors before going into battle, matcha naturally contains energy increasing compounds. Like all green teas matcha naturally contains caffeine, but when combined with other nutrients it will give you a boost without that caffeine hangover you can sometimes get from other energy drinks.
It has also been shown to increase your metabolism and detoxify the body making matcha an excellent addition to your diet.
If you are looking for something to improve your workout, then consider adding one of the above superfoods to your diet and workout routine.
Whether you are looking for more energy for a long run or muscle recovery after a strenuous workout with your resistance bands, superfoods have something to offer for everyone. You may find that they help not only your workout but your mood and overall health as well.