The Shape Issue: How to Fuel Your Fitness
A registered dietician recommends adding these power foods to your kitchen repertoire.
"They are packed with twice the antioxidants and twice the fiber [of regular blueberries]," says Lauren Blake, a registered dietitian and nutrition counselor at The Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany. That's not to say regular blueberries aren't a great choice, but "you're getting a double punch with the wild."
"It's very high in fiber, low in calories and extremely rich in carotenoids (an anti-oxidant)," she says. Low on the glycemic index, pumpkin is a great post-workout food. Just check the label, Blake adds: Be sure it says 100 percent pumpkin.
This low-calorie veggie can help boost energy levels and lower blood pressure. While all beets are good for you, Blake recommends red beets above other varieties. Bonus: Don't toss the green tops, Blake says: "Beet greens are really healthy, too."
Also known as pepitas, these tiny seeds help stabilize blood pressure and bone strength. "And compared to other nuts and seeds, they have fewer calories," Blake says. Enjoy them raw, or use them to add extra crunch to salads and grain dishes.
Studies show this potent spice can help steady your blood sugar levels, Blake says. Research has also shown a healthy dose of cinnamon can ease arthritis and the flu. "It's a good way to add flavor without sweetness and the extra calories."
"It's one of those ancient grains that can be subbed for rice and popped like popcorn. It's great for muscle building and also helps remove toxins from the liver," Blake says. Plus, it's gluten free.
Swiss chard and bok choy
Forget kale, and reach for these nutrient-dense leafy greens instead. Swiss chard is packed with Vitamin B.
The perfect post-workout snack has one thing: the right ratio of carbs (to replenish glycogen storage) to protein (to help rebuild muscles). Most studies suggest a 3:1 carb-to-protein breakdown is the perfect post-sweat snack, dietician Lauren Blake says. A few that fit that mold:
1 cup of berries with 1 cup yogurt
1/3 cup tuna with seven rice crackers
1/4 cup hummus with whole-wheat pita