You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat” more than a few times. And when you think about it, it’s true. The food you put into your body in large part determines the kind of life you live. Eating healthy foods, along with a daily workout, means you have better health, more energy, and a brighter outlook on life.
The market is flooded with foods and supplements marketed toward fitness fanatics. From energy gels to protein powders to meal-replacement bars, you can find something packaged and processed for every type of athlete, whether you’re an endurance runner or a power lifter.
Whether you’re a biker, a runner or a yogi, you need a special diet when you’re highly active. It’s important to get enough calories to fuel you through your activities, but it’s also important that you get those calories through high-quality nutrients that will keep you riding/jogging/downward-dogging as long as you like.
Of course, it goes without saying that these food sources should be organic. You don’t need pesticide residue slowing you down. Here are the nine best organic foods for active people.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries: No matter which berry you choose, you’ll get a slew of antioxidants that fight off the free radicals formed during high-intensity exercise. Experts say berries with the darkest hues offer the greatest nutritional benefits.
Beans and Spinach
Beans have a wide variety of benefits, including helping to fight off cancer and heart disease. They’re also particularly good for endurance athletes or weight lifters because they’re high in protein. This helps repair the microtears in muscles that are incurred during a hard workout.
Cruciferous vegetables should be part of any healthy diet, but spinach is especially important for athletes. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help to minimize soreness after a hard workout. Following a big race or game, make a salad from organic spinach and strawberries, one of the aforementioned superfoods, to ensure you’re not hobbling around the next day.
Bananas are an outstanding pre-game snack for when you’re playing a sport that involves endurance like soccer or baseball. This fruit is easy on the digestive system, meaning you won’t feel any tummy distress during the game, and bananas offer a quick punch of energy that can last for up to two hours, making them the ideal pre-activity fuel. Plus, all that potassium helps ward off muscle cramps on really hot days.
One of the best ways to promote quick muscle recovery is to refuel with food that has protein, fat and carbs after your workout is finished. Organic milk is a perfect post-workout treat. It helps you to rehydrate quickly after sweating a lot during your activity. The casein in milk can also assist with muscle recovery following a grueling event.
Tart Cherry Juice
One study found that marathoners who drank the juice twice a day for a week experienced much less post-long-run pain than those who did not. Tart cherry juice is a great addition to a smoothie, which you can make with the other great organic foods mentioned above, such as milk, bananas and berries.
Talk about an antioxidant powerhouse. Chia seeds are packed with those free radical-fighting nutrients, and they help athletes stay hydrated for longer by absorbing up to 12 times their weight in water. Athletes can even down these tiny seeds on the run by dropping a teaspoonful into a water bottle for use during a workout.
When you need to carbo-load before a long event, organic sweet potatoes are the perfect meal. They are starchy and keep you full for hours. But they also are high in minerals including manganese and copper, which many athletes have deficiencies in. Those minerals help keep your muscle function healthy.
Another great anti-inflammatory, organic salmon is a terrific source of omega 3 fatty acids, which aid in recovery from intense workouts, and a host of B vitamins. Its high protein content helps mend muscles quickly, too.