Use these tips from sports dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner to maximize your workout by eating the right foods before and after a session.
Before your workout
Bananas:For a steady, long-lasting supply of energy, eat a banana right before you hit the gym. It contains 25 grams of carbohydrates, your body’s preferred fuel source for exercise. Bonus: You’ll also get a good dose of potassium, a key electrolyte that’s lost through sweat.
Raisins:A new study shows that raisins work just as well as sports gels to fuel your muscles pre-exercise. Aim for 2 tablespoons — or about 30 to 40 raisins.
Pomegranate juice:Healthy compounds in pomegranate juice called polyphenols may help decrease muscle soreness, a recent study found. Drink 4 to 8 ounces daily. Choose one that’s 100% juice, like POM Wonderful.
Green tea:This healthy brew contains catechins, substances that may increase fat burning during exercise, according to research. Drink 8 to 16 ounces of hot or iced tea before heading to your session.
After a workout
Tuna sandwich:Your body’s best exercise recovery combo is protein to repair muscles and carbs to replenish energy stores. Protein-rich tuna on whole-grain bread is the perfect post-workout pick-me-up. Bonus: The healthy omega-3 fats in tuna may also decrease muscle soreness. Most single serve, no-drain StarKist pouches are 100 calories or less.
Yogurt:Dairy foods such as yogurt are naturally rich in protein and carbs. For extra credit, choose 2% yogurt — it contains conjugated linoleic acid, which may accelerate fat burning. Try plain 2% yogurt, such as Chobani or Stonyfield. Add a teaspoon of honey for sweetness.
Tart cherries:A compound in tart cherries called anthocyanin may reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Aim for 1/2 to 1 cup of the unsweetened frozen fruit or 100% juice.
A green smoothie:A new study shows that a healthy compound in leafy green vegetables helps muscles work more efficiently. In a blender, puree 1 cup of leafy greens such as spinach, 8 ounces of low-fat milk and 1/2 cup frozen berries and enjoy it after vigorous exercise sessions.
And don't forget to drink water!
Without proper hydration, fatigue sets in faster and increases your risk of injury. Aim to drink about 8 to 16 ounces during a 30-minute workout.