Ever wonder what foods to eat that will boost blood flow so you can feel energized during your workout? This post from Men’s Fitness lists 7 pre-workout foods that optimize exercise performance!
WHAT IF WE told you that one of the most potent, performance-enhancing nutrition supplements is completely natural, cheap and already in your fridge? Nitrate-rich foods, like certain fruits and vegetables (and their juices), possess the power to dilate blood vessels and increase your circulation, which means more oxygen is delivered to the muscles and enhanced endurance and performance.
As a matter of fact, one study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that CrossFit-trained athletes enhanced their peak power output in an all-out maximum effort cycling test after just six days of nitrate supplementation. Even if you don’t want to go all out, research suggests that adding nitrate-rich foods to your diet may still help exercise performance. A similar study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that drinking nitrate-rich beetroot juice 2-3 hours before exercise increased peak cycling power and pedaling velocity during sub-maximal exercises tests.
Not only will boosting circulation make you stronger and faster, it will also help ward off the number-one killer in the U.S., heart disease. February is American Heart Month, so do your heart a favor and add these nitrate-rich foods to your diet.
Also known as ‘rocket,’ arugula contains more nitrates than almost any other food. Although there’s no set amount of nitrates that one should have in a day, arugula comes in at more than 250 milligrams/100 grams.
Research suggests that dietary nitrates are 100% bioavailable, so eating arugula before a tough workout is one of your best chances to maximize your strength.
Add ½ cup arugula to your pre-workout smoothie or sub half the greens in your salad for arugula.
With about 180 milligrams/100 grams of nitrates, these crunchy vegetables help open up the blood vessels and push the blood to the muscles right when they need it.
Radishes are also a low glycemic index food without much fiber, so they satisfy your need for crunch without spiking your blood sugar or causing stomach issues during a workout.
You’ve probably heard of professional athletes downing a shot of beetroot juice before a competition. Many studies have established that this concentrated shot of purple stuff is worth the hype since it’s highly concentrated with nitrates that quickly deliver oxygen to the muscles.
Many find the 70 milliliters concentrated shot of beetroot juice to be much more palatable than a 300-milliliter juice, and both have similar amounts of nitrates. Down one right before exercise and you’ll be good to go.
Also known as chervil, parsley contains more than 250 milligrams/100 grams of nitrates.
Since it’s not always easy to eat 100 grams (or about ½ cup) of an herb in one sitting, hide it in a pre-workout smoothie or add it to your dinner the night before a heavy training day.
Early research suggests that the antioxidants in pomegranate juice may protect nitric oxide (the bi-product of nitrates) against oxidative stress. This protection dilates the blood vessels and delivers additional oxygen to the muscles, even during anaerobic exercise, like lifting.
Choose a juice that’s purely pomegranate, like POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice, and down it about 30-minutes before your gym session.
The sweetest and, arguably, most appetizing vegetable on the list is high in blood pumping nitrates.
With about 100 milligrams/100 grams nitrates, ample antioxidants that prevent inflammation and a low glycemic index, carrots are a crunchy substitute for sodium-rich chips or pretzels.
Maybe one of the more obscure items on the list, bok choy is worth adding to your diet for its high nitrate content. With about the same amount of nitrates as arugula (>250 milligrams/100 grams), it will help increase blood flow so you can crush your workout.
Bok choy is higher in fiber than the others on this list, so add it to a stir-fry the night before a tough workout to avoid stomach issues during your training session.