5 Foods That Boost Your Workout

 

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It turns out that the food you eat can do more than replenish the stores of energy and fluid you lose while exercising — some can help you get more from your workout, as well as aid your endurance and recovery.

Here are five foods to make your workout easier:

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1. Coffee: Runners love a cup of pre-race joe for the pep it puts in their step. Research shows that the caffeine in coffee can enhance physical endurance and stamina, making a long run or ride feel easier. Iced or hot green tea works too. Feel free to add milk, but skip the sugar, which can negate the caffeine kick.

2. Ginger: Sore muscles often feel rewarding after a hard workout, but intense aches just plain hurt. The fix? Ginger. Consuming half a teaspoon of the raw root or ground herb lessened next-day muscle soreness by 25 percent in one study, likely because ginger contains pungent pain-relieving chemicals such as gingerol, shogaol, and zingerone.

3. Apples: Eating an apple is a great way to boost exercise endurance. Apples are a good source of an antioxidant called quercetin. One study showed that quercetin — when taken in supplement form — helped people bike longer. Quercetin aids endurance by making oxygen more available to the lungs. Grapes are another quercetin-rich fruit.

4. Tart cherry juice: Inflammation is the scourge of muscles, causing pain and swelling and hindering performance in your next workout. Ease that affliction with cherries. They’re rich in polyphenolic compounds-namely flavanoids and anthyocyanins-that are shown to decrease inflammation. In fact, when athletes consumed a cherry concentrate daily for seven days before and two days after a strength-training workout, their muscles recovered faster, U.K. researchers reported. Find tart cherry juice at your local grocer and drink it in place of your morning OJ.

5. Beets: Naturally occurring nitrates help deliver more oxygen to your muscles, thereby reducing fatigue during high-intensity exercise. A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating a 7-ounce serving of baked beets 75 minutes before exercise helped runners run three percent faster during a 5k-and in the last mile, they ran five percent faster. Being able to up the intensity like that means you torch both your opponents and major calories.

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Eat Healthy…Without Going Broke

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Eating healthy, delicious meals is more expensive than eating junk (or eating the same boring thing every single day), right?

Not necessarily!

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Did you know that, with a little organization and creativity, you can save money and still eat healthy, tasty, high-quality foods?

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Step 1. Plan your meals. Set aside regular blocks of time for planning meal and making your grocery list. Try looking for recipes on the Internet.

Step 2. Shop smart. Consider the time of day, day of week, and even week in the month that you shop. Generally, the grocery is the least busy early in the morning, in the middle of the week, and on any day but the first day or two of the month (when many people get paid).

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Food Choices That Will Save You Money

Here are some healthy foods to add to your grocery list:

• Beans. Can be used to make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.

• Brown Rice. Great addition to leftover meat and veggies. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the nutritional payoff is well worth it. Another inexpensive, easy-to-fix grain, millet, is best when bought fresh. Simply rinse and toast before using it in recipes.

• Whole-wheat Pasta. Quick and easy to prepare, and can be paired with veggies, meat, or a fresh salad. Get creative by adding different vegetables, spices and herbs.

• Fresh vegetables and fruit. These are essentials that should always be on your list. Buy when they’re in season, to ensure optimal taste and nutrition. You can also rely on frozen varieties. Veggies make great stir-fries, while fruit is good for a quick nutritious snack.

• Meat and fish. Try the newer tuna and salmon pouches, and shop for inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles.

• Condiments. These add flavor and interest to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato and soy sauces, along with stock cubes, in your cupboard. Try experimenting with the new flavors as well.

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Money-Saving Cooking Tips

• When cooking, make extra portions. Then, either freeze them, or use them later in the week for lunches or quick suppers.

• Save your vegetable trimmings to make your own vegetable stock. Not only do you save money, but vegetable stock also makes a nutritious base for casseroles, soups, and Crockpot cooking.

• Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper; you can freeze perishable items (such as meat, milk, and even bread) in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items in bulk (canned foods, dried beans and grains, etc.).

• Use less expensive cuts of meat for casseroles that you slow cook; add extra vegetables and beans to make the meal go further.

• Capitalize on one-pot dishes, which generally save prep time, money, and dishwashing, and often make great leftovers.

• Limit your dining out, especially when it comes to fast food, since you’ll find yourself spending unnecessarily on items that are high in fat, salt, and calories, which short-change you in the nutrition department.

Don’t Forget Your Daily Healthy Eating Goals:

• Limit your intake of junk food
• Drink lots of water (at least 8 cups a day)
• Limit salty and sugary foods
• Avoid eating foods high in saturated fats

Though it takes a little planning, creativity, and work, the rewards of healthy, smart shopping can be a happier body…and wallet.