Being healthy and strong is more than just going to the gym: pumping iron, taking a class or going for a long run a few times a week – it takes a lifestyle that involves everything from your sleeping patterns to the food you eat (and don’t eat!). A myriad of products exist that athletes can take which promise more power and endurance, but these supplements can’t always be trusted and can truly be a farce. Readily available foods can replace many of these synthetic supplements that advertisers want you to believe that you need. In this article, we will focus on some amazing superfoods that you should simply not be missing out on in order to get stronger while building muscle mass and endurance.
What Exactly is a Superfood?
You might think that superfood is just a made-up term, but it is a very real word that describes extremely nutrient and vitamin rich foods that promote health and well being. Not only is the word real, but superfoods are more common than one might realize. These foods are so powerful that they alone can help lower your cholesterol or reduce your risk of developing cancer and most can be found in your local supermarket. If that’s not enough, these foods don’t pose any risk for side effects that are commonly associated with many synthetic alternatives.
Here are a few that you may have overlooked:
Raw chocolate is one of the many surprisingly healthy foods that you would never think of. No, I’m not talking about a candy bar – as tempting as that sounds. Raw Chocolate is made from unprocessed and unrefined cocoa beans which keeps the already plentiful antioxidants and vitamins readily available and easier for your body to digest. Raw cocoa has more magnesium per serving than any other food in the world and has some of the nutrients you need to recover more quickly from a strenuous workout. And in case you’re wondering – yes, dark chocolate bars can be healthy for you as well. Just look for ones with higher cocoa content (usually above 60%).
A tiny blueberry is absolutely packed with the stuff your body needs to stay strong and healthy. More specifically – antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium. Blueberries act as natural anti-inflammatory drugs as well as protecting you from heart disease. They may be small, but this is a healthy and tasty snack that you should be enjoying. If you don’t like eating them plain, throw a handful into your favorite yogurt or cereal. When picking out berries – the darker, the better as dark skin means the berry has more antioxidants.
Here’s another one you may have never heard of – Maca Powder. This is a seriously potent substance derived from the maca root, which belongs to the radish family, and brings benefits ranging from higher energy levels and better quality sleep, all the way to increasing your libido and helping to manage stress levels. If that alone isn’t enough to make you curious, maca powder also helps regenerate tired and stressed muscle tissues. The powder can be added to smoothies, juices and even salads. Just be careful not to take too much, although there are no side effects per se, taking too much can throw your hormones for a loop.
Finally, one superfood that every athlete should have in their kitchen pantry is spirulina. Consisting mostly of protein, spirulina also has all eight amino acids built in and high levels of many important vitamins. It’s great for consuming as a post workout supplement as it helps with rapid healing, as well as improving your level of endurance
Guest blogger Ashley Williamson is a freelance writer on topics related to health and fitness. When she is not working she is a traveling yogini.