From ultra-bulk protein powders to muscle-promoting snack bars, there is no shortage of products available for those looking for a workout boost. The popularity of these high-protein convenience foods has meant that some of nature’s most efficient workout fuel are often overlooked. You might not realise, but the energy and boost that you need to rev up your fitness might just be hiding away in your fridge as we speak…
THE MUSCLE STRENGTHENERS
Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach contain a significant source of glutamine, which is an amino acid involved in the composition of proteins, and thus plays an important role in the development of lean muscle mass. Spinach also contains a compound called coenzyme Q10, which holds a critical role in producing energy for your cells, and in turn, boosting your muscle function and strength.
THE GREEN ENERGY SUPPLIERS
Barley and Wheatgrass: Barley and wheatgrass are absolute powerhouses of antioxidants and are rich in vital minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron. Get an instant workout shot of energy by adding either one to a pre-workout smoothie to get rid of that can’t-get-out-of-bed-and-to-the-gym feeling. As well as being an excellent oxygen supplier to your cells all day long, they also contain carotenoids which help to keep tissue cells healthy and strong.
THE RECOVERY SQUAD
Micro-veggies and sprouts: Sprouts are filled with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help the body to absorb more amino acids from proteins. Many of these phytonutrients also help to speed up the muscle recovery period, preventing sore muscles, cramps and other discomforts after an intense workout.
THE MUSCLE SOOTHERS
Parsley: Even herbs like parsley contain many fundamental nutrients which help to keep our muscles and cells healthy and efficient. Parsley contains a vital amino acid called lysine, which helps with the growth and regeneration of connective tissues of cartilage and tendons. Parsley's concentrated amounts of antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E helps to sooth inflammation in muscles and joints. You can raw parsley on top of meals, in salads and smoothies.
THE CARB STARS
Sweet potato and pumpkin: Sweet potatoes are one of the most satiating foods on the planet, because of their high fibre and carbohydrate content. Despite their ability to keep you full for hours, they’re relatively low in calories and virtually fat free. Swap out the pasta or white rice for sweet potato or pumpkin and your body might just thank you later - you’ll probably feel less sluggish, more energised and you won’t store unnecessary weight from a refined carb spike!
These are just some of the amazing plant foods that can be made heroes of your plate to help boost your exercise performance and give you that extra energy you need to crush your workouts! Of course, there are heaps more that we love, such as broccoli, beets, tomatoes and carrots.