We are happiest when we set goals for ourselves and engage in challenging, worthwhile pursuits.
Getting fighting fit, or in other words, getting in the best shape of your life, is a goal many people set for themselves. Getting into peak physical condition is a big, audacious goal, but it really only involves two elements: diet and fitness.
Now, we’re not going to advise you on what to do for exercise (although I would recommend doing something you actually enjoy), but we’re going to instead, tackle the other half of the equation; the eating right part.
Training frequently and with high intensity can leave you tired, sore, and depleted of vital nutrients. To combat these ailments and achieve your goal of getting fighting fit, you need two vital nutrients: carbohydrates to fuel you through punishing workouts, and protein to repair and grow your muscles.
However, that does not give you the green light to gorge on burgers. If you want results, your protein and carbs have to come from healthy, low-fat sources. Enter… SUPERFOODS.
Superfoods can provide you with both these essential macronutrients, but they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals that can boost your energy levels and mental capacity, help you sleep better, and have you looking and feeling your best. They offer superior health benefits and could give you the edge you need to achieve your fitness goals.
So, if you’re committed and ready, here are our top ten superfoods to include in your diet.
What, eggs are a superfood? Yep, and why wouldn’t they be? Eggs are an inexpensive way of getting high-quality protein into your diet. Crammed with 6 grams of protein but only 72 calories per egg, you get the protein you need for muscle repair without the excess calories that only contribute to your waistline.
Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and including eggs or other protein sources in your meals, will mean you’re less likely to snack between meals.
Eggs also provide a top up of vitamin B2 and vitamin D, as well as providing the essential minerals iron, zinc, and copper.
Listen to paleo enthusiasts and you’ll be led to believe that all carbs are evil. Not true.
Oats are a good carb in my book and pretty damn important if you’re training heavy and need fuel for your workouts. They’re slow-digesting and provide steady energy release throughout your training sessions.
However, not all oats are created equal. Avoid flavored, instant oats like the plague, as well as cheap oats found in supermarkets, and opt for the less processed steel-cut oats sold in health stores.
If you supplement with protein powder, you’ll more than likely add milk to your shakes. Apart from making your protein shakes taste awesome, milk also contains all the essential amino acids required for muscle growth and repair. Just a cup of 1% fat milk contains a whopping 8g of protein.
A glass of the white stuff also produces 30% of the calcium and half the vitamin D recommended per day. The mineral and vitamin have a solid partnership; calcium is required to build strong bones and teeth, and vitamin D aids in calcium absorption in the gut.
Delicious and nutritious, what more could you ask for? Salmon is another source of quality protein which also has a range of benefits including increasing bone density and strength, improving cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, and even combating the effects of depression.
Salmon is also good for heart health. Just 3 oz of salmon provides your daily dose of heart-healthy omega 3s which also aid with brain, nerve, and eye function.
If you’re a fan of seafood, more fishy goodness can be had from scallops and sardines, both of which are superfoods that are high in protein and also provide vitamin D and omega 3 fats.
Brown rice is a slow digesting carbohydrate that will sustain you through tough training sessions. However, unlike its refined cousin, brown rice still holds much of the nutritional value of the grain.
It also contains magnesium, which is an essential mineral that helps to perform over 300 bodily functions, as well as fiber and selenium, both of which have been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Bananas make the ideal snack and stop you reaching for crisps or chocolate. I always keep one stashed in my gym bag in case I’m feeling peckish before training. They help to sustain blood sugar levels and stop you from hitting the wall twenty minutes into your session.
But apart from being a quick and easy snack for gym rats, bananas are also packed with good-for-the-gut fiber, as well as potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C.
It’s hard to believe this tasty spread is a superfood, especially after reading the fat content on the label. However, peanut butter is crammed full of monounsaturated fats that are good for the heart. Additionally, peanuts have also been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Peanut butter contains a healthy dose of vitamin E (powerful antioxidant), vitamin B6 (good for the immune system), potassium (required for muscle building), and magnesium (builds bones).
Two tablespoons of the spread also provides as much as 8 grams of protein.
Try slicing an apple and dunking it into peanut butter for a healthy snack. But be warned, it’s highly addictive and takes a lot of willpower not to finish a whole jar.
Turkey breast is one of the leanest protein sources out there. 3 oz of skinless turkey has a monstrous 20 grams of protein but is only 90 calories.
Low in fat and high in protein, it’s the perfect substitute for fattier meats when you’re trying to slim down. It can even be used as a healthy alternative in meals you wouldn’t usually associate with turkey, such as curries and burgers.
Engaging in rigorous workouts will call for you to up your protein intake. However, eating a chicken breast a day quickly gets sickening, and not to mention, expensive.
Lentils offer a plant-based protein source as well as a rich source of dietary fiber. They have the third highest protein content of all nuts and legumes.
They’re also loaded with calcium, niacin, potassium, zinc, iron, vitamin K, and folate (an essential B vitamin) which provides many health benefits.
Popeye was on to something when he downed back cans of the green stuff. And although spinach doesn’t lead to swelling muscles, it is a powerhouse of nutrition packed with an extensive list of vitamins and minerals that aid in numerous vital functions.
Including the little green leaves in your diet is known to lower blood pressure, build and maintain collagen, aid with digestion, and provide vitamin K, which helps to build healthy bones. Spinach is also linked to the prevention of serious illnesses such as asthma and cancer.