Potassium: A naturally occurring electrolyte, potassium helps to prevent muscle cramping during and after exercise, prevents excess water retention, and assists in optimal nutrient absorption during digestion.
Magnesium: Many athletes take a magnesium supplement to prevent muscle spasms caused by low levels of this nutrient, but you can easily find it in whole foods. Magnesium helps regulate the proper contraction and relaxation of muscles (including the heart), lowers blood pressure, and is a key player in the production of ATP—the main source of energy for our cells.
Beta Carotene: This orange pigment and antioxidant delivers a significant source of vitamin A (over 100% in 1 cup, cubed). It also helps to fight off free radicals and support post-workout recovery.
Fiber: Sweet potatoes are a reliable fuel source and have the lowest glycemic index of all the root vegetables. They digest slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar keeping athletes sustained, energized, and satiated for hours.
Protein: One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein, allowing for optimal muscle repair and synthesis.
Iron: Prevent chronic fatigue and anemia (a common ailment worldwide) by consuming enough iron. Lentils are one of the highest sources of plant-based iron, providing over one-third of the Daily Recommended Amount in one cup, cooked.
Complex Carbohydrates: Lentils act as a slow-burning fuel that keeps one satiated for hours, fueling your activity and promoting a speedy recovery.
Antioxidants: Not only do antioxidants benefit one’s long term health by battling chronic inflammation, they also help to significantly reduce acute inflammation caused by exercise. A daily dose of berries can drastically improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness.
Vitamin C: Oranges aren’t the only fruit that contain this essential vitamin. Berries—particularly strawberries—boast significant sources of vitamin C which helps to combat infection, prevent bruising, and produce collagen, which makes up our connective tissues.
Fiber: While tiny, berries are loaded with fiber to support digestion and keep one satisfied in between meals.
Use It In a Recipe
Chocolate Magic Smoothie Bowl
Enjoy as a snack!
Omega Fatty Acids: Flax seeds are one of the highest sources for omega-3s and 6s in the plant kingdom. These vital fatty acids promote a healthy heart and can reduce inflammation, which is essential for recovery.
Lignans: Of all foods, flax seeds are the richest dietary source of lignans, which have antioxidant properties that help significantly to speed up recovery.
Protein: Just one tablespoon of flax seeds contains 2 grams of high-quality protein.
Protein: 3 tablespoons of hemp hearts contains 10 grams of muscle-building protein!
Iron: Hemp hearts contain 20% of the Recommended Daily Amount of iron, which supports the oxygenation of one’s cells and prevents chronic fatigue.
Healthy Fats: The significant source of unsaturated fat in hemp hearts—about 15 grams per 3 tablespoons—supports proper brain function without any cholesterol or artery-clogging side effects. These fats include omega-3s and 6s.
Use It In a Recipe
Chocolate Magic Smoothie Bowl
Use as a Salad Topper
Protein: Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids (those our bodies can’t produce on their own), making it a complete protein. One cup of cooked quinoa contains just over 8 grams of protein.
Lysine: This is an essential amino acid that supports muscle growth, helps convert fatty acids into energy, aids in the body’s absorption of calcium, and is vital in the production of collagen, which makes up connective tissue. Not all plant-based sources of protein contain lysine, making quinoa a unique protein powerhouse.
Iron: Quinoa contains 15% of the Recommended Daily Amount of iron, which supports the oxygenation of one’s cells and prevents chronic fatigue.
Potassium: A naturally occurring electrolyte, potassium helps to prevent muscle cramping during and after exercise, prevents excess water retention, and assists in optimal nutrient absorption during digestion. A medium banana provides 422 milligrams of this electrolyte, or 12% of the Daily Recommended Amount.
Quick-Acting Carbohydrates: Bananas have long been touted as the ideal pre-and-during-workout food. Essentially, they’re naturally packaged, portable, and easily digestible carbohydrates. A medium banana provides 27 grams of carbs which act as the body’s main energy source during sustained exercise.
Fiber: A medium banana provides about 10% of the Daily Recommended Amount of fiber, keeping one statiated during long workouts. This also helps with digestive issues, reducing bloat and constipation.
Antioxidants: Brightly colored veggies such as kale and cabbage contain powerful antioxidants to fight inflammation, which means the body can spend less time in recovery and more time in training.
Fiber: Just one cup of chopped broccoli contains 2.6 grams of fiber, which is about 10% of the Daily Recommended Amount. Brussels sprouts provide even more digestion-promoting fiber with 3.3 grams per cup.
Vitamins: From brussels sprouts to kale to cauliflower, cruciferous veggies are packed with a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals to ensure the body functions at its highest level. Many of these veggies are high in folate, calcium, and vitamins C, E, and K.
Protein: Most beans contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (with the exception of soy, which contains around 30 grams). Beans are excellent post-workout foods to promote muscle repair and synthesis.
Iron: Most beans contain 2-3 milligrams of iron, which is about 15% of the Daily Recommended Amount. Iron helps to combat fatigue by aiding in the oxygenation of cells.
Polyphenols: Beans are rich in these antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body, supporting both long-term health and decreasing acute inflammation from exercise.
Turmeric, Ginger, & Black Pepper
Ginger: This root reduces pain and inflammation in the same way ibuprofen does—by suppressing COX-2—but it’s safe to take every day. A daily dose of ginger significantly speeds recovery and cuts down on post-exercise aches and pains.
Turmeric: Like ginger, turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammation properties due to its active compound curcumin. Consuming a small amount of turmeric every day in conjunction with ginger helps to alleviate acute inflammation and soreness.
Black Pepper: The curcumin in turmeric has a very low bioavailability (is not easily absorbed by the body), but a pinch of black pepper can increase the body’s absorption by up to 2000%
“I feel like my new lifestyle is a key to the way I have progressed in the recent months, feels like I am strengthening myself with this new transition”
Photo credit: The Telegraph