Want to give your workout a boost? Five key ingredients can give your body an extra edge when exercising—or recovering from your workout, as Joyce Hendley wrote about in the July/August issue of EatingWell Magazine. And as a bonus, she developed a homemade energy bar recipe that packs them all into a delicious, convenient bar to power your workout and help you refuel afterward. (Get the recipe for EatingWell Energy Bars and more Granola & Power Bars.)
Here are the 5 ingredients that can help power your next workout.
The most protein-rich nut of them all helps give our bar an egg’s worth of quality protein.
Pre-workout: A little protein staves off hunger without overtaxing digestion.
Post-workout: Protein helps repair muscles and stokes your body’s muscle-building machinery—especially when consumed within a half hour after exercising.
2. Brown Rice Cereal & Oats
Both are rich in carbohydrates, the fuel your muscles prefer.
Pre-workout: The quickly absorbed sugars in the cereal and syrup provide a shot of “use-it-now” fuel, while fiber-rich oats supply sustained energy.
Post-workout: Provide a healthy amount of carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores.
3. Dried Blueberries
Dried blueberries are a tasty and antioxidant-rich alternative to raisins.
Pre-workout: The easily digested carbohydrates in blueberries fuel muscles, plus a little fiber provides staying power.
Post-workout: Polyphenolic compounds in blueberries may help combat oxidative stress in muscles—potentially preventing soreness, inflammation.
Must-Try: Blueberry Recipes for a Better Workout
4. Chocolate Chips
I’m pretty sure you don’t need a justification to add chocolate chips to your energy bars, but nonetheless there actually are some health reasons to add them.
Pre-workout: Antioxidants in dark chocolate help prevent muscle soreness later on. One study of bikers showed dark chocolate helped reduce oxidative stress in muscles—a component of muscle soreness. Animal research suggests chocolate’s epicatechins can boost leg strength and endurance capacity.
Post-workout: Dark chocolate provides flavonols, compounds that can help improve blood flow, which brings more oxygen to replenish your hardworking muscles.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight inflammation, a factor in muscle soreness. While not as potent as fish-based omega-3s in producing these benefits, they’re also (like exercise) good for your heart.
Don’t Miss: 4 More Foods to Naturally Boost Your Workout