How we fuel our bodies can make a big difference to our exercise performance. So before you head out on your next run or cycle, find out the best things to eat alongside a balanced diet to give you that extra edge.
These 8 recipes focus on the key food groups and nutrients that can support a healthy lifestyle and boost exercise: carbohydrates, iron, calcium and protein. Take a look…
Carbs are our main source of energy, and can be split into two categories – simple and complex.
Simple carbs are found in foods including fruit juice and chocolate. They are known as ‘empty calories’, and provide a quick burst of energy, but offer very little nutritionally.
Complex carbs are found in pulses, fruit, vegetables, wholewheat breads and pasta. They’re harder for the body to break down, and therefore release energy at a slower, more sustained rate. This can help boost exercise endurance, and stop blood-sugar spikes, preventing dips and peaks in energy.
Iron-rich foods, such as spinach and lentils, can increase our blood’s capacity to carry oxygen, helping to prevent fatigue during exercise. Vitamin C can help the body absorb iron, too – so try adding a squeeze of citrus the next time you have some spinach on the go.
Milk, natural yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products are naturally high in calcium, essential for building bone health and strength. Calcium can also help regulate muscle contractions, too. A balanced diet should provide all of the calcium your body needs; but if you’re restricting your dairy intake, it can be more difficult to get what you need. Other foods that are high in calcium include tofu, and nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts.
As well as maintaining and increasing muscle mass, protein is also essential for healthy bones. Try mixing up your intake with protein-packed lentils, beans and fish, as well as classic lean meats such as venison and turkey.
For more information about food groups, read about Jamie’s Balanced Plate philosophy here.