7 Top Fitness Foods

Featured Article, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Nutrition
on March 8, 2012

These foods, recommended by registered dietitian Jim White, a personal trainer in Virginia Beach, Va., will add oomph to your fitness regimen.

Pineapple. This tropical fruit contains bromelain and papain, enzymes that help break down proteins during digestion, says White. Bromelain is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and may speed up post-workout recovery.

Green tea. Green tea’s bevvy of antioxidants can help muscles recuperate after a tough fitness workout and may even aid in weight loss. One study found that participants who drank the equivalent of five cups of green tea a day lost more fat around their midsections.

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Salmon. This omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish is also full of protein and known to boost metabolism, White says. “It fights inflammation and soreness that can occur after a workout and is good for cardiovascular fitness,” he adds.

Spinach. Popeye was on to something. This leafy green is loaded with plant steroids called phytoecdysteroids that can increase muscle strength and the creation of protein, muscle’s building block, White says.

Almond butter. This creamy spread makes a satisfying pre-workout snack. “It's packed with protein and healthy fats that serve the body by repairing muscles,” White says. Slather it onto a potassium-rich banana, and you’ll have a picture-perfect pre-fitness snack.

Chocolate milk. Drinking a cold glass of this childhood favorite after a hard workout can hydrate you and repair fatigued muscles. A 2011 University of Texas at Austin study found that athletes who followed a fitness plan of one hour-long bike ride, five days a week, with a glass of chocolate milk—and a second glass one hour later—gained more lean muscle mass and lost more body fat than the group who drank a carb beverage.

Sweet potato. “This good carb is chocked full of carotenoids,” White says. “The vitamin E helps prevent the free radical damage done by exercise, and the potassium aids in muscle contractions, nerve transmission, bone health, water balance and normal blood pressure.”