By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. Associate Nutrition Editor for EatingWell Magazine
Want to give your workout a boost? Five key ingredients can give your body an extra edge when exercising -- or recovering from your workout, as Joyce Hendley wrote about in the July/August issue of EatingWell Magazine. And as a bonus, she developed a homemade energy bar recipe that packs them all into a delicious, convenient bar to power your workout and help you refuel afterward. (Get the recipe for EatingWell Energy Bars and more granola and power bars.)
Here are the five ingredients that can help power your next workout.
The most protein-rich nut of them all helps give our bar an egg's worth of quality protein. <em>Pre-workout</em>: A little protein staves off hunger without overtaxing digestion. <em>Post-workout</em>: Protein helps repair muscles and stokes your body's muscle-building machinery -- especially when consumed within a half-hour after exercising. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stone-soup/4762067624/" target="_hplink">jules:stonesoup</a></em>
Both are rich in carbohydrates, the fuel your muscles prefer. <em>Pre-workout</em>: The quickly absorbed sugars in the cereal and syrup provide a shot of "use-it-now" fuel, while fiber-rich oats supply sustained energy. <em>Post-workout:</em> Provide a healthy amount of carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/irisphotos/6934369091/" target="_hplink">iriskh</a></em>
Dried blueberries are a tasty and antioxidant-rich alternative to raisins. <em>Pre-workout:</em> The easily digested carbohydrates in blueberries fuel muscles, plus a little fiber provides staying power. <em>Post-workout</em>: Polyphenolic compounds in blueberries may help combat oxidative stress in muscles -- potentially preventing soreness and inflammation.
I'm pretty sure you don't need a justification to add chocolate chips to your energy bars, but nonetheless there actually <em>are</em> some health reasons to add them. <em>Pre-workout:</em> Antioxidants in dark chocolate help prevent muscle soreness later on. One study of bikers showed dark chocolate helped reduce oxidative stress in muscles -- a component of muscle soreness. Animal research suggests chocolate's epicatechins can boost leg strength and endurance capacity. <em>Post-workout:</em> Dark chocolate provides flavonols, compounds that can help improve blood flow, which brings more oxygen to replenish your hardworking muscles.
Pumpkin seeds are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight inflammation, a factor in muscle soreness. While not as potent as fish-based omega-3s in producing these benefits, they're also (like exercise) good for your heart. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/verybadlady/4606722581/" target="_hplink">HeatherHeatherHeather</a></em>
What do you eat to fuel your workout?
By Kerri-Ann Jennings
Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian, is the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, where she wields her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.
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