Endurance sports - running, cycling, swimming, etc. - are highly beneficial for cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure and increasing heart health. They are also invariably demanding in terms of physical ability and energy retention. There are various methods of improving your cardiovascular stamina, including regular endurance training and consuming the right balance of nutrients to fuel your body, giving it everything it needs for peak performance. To help you out, here are some of the best quick and easy energy-boosting snacks you can consume before, during and after endurance training.
What Should You Snack On?
When it comes to preparing your energy levels for a successful endurance workout, timing is everything. It is recommended to consume a complete, balanced meal around 2-3 hours before your workout, opting for small nutritious snacks immediately before and after. Consider snacks with a good balance of fats, carbs, and protein, to help stave off hunger and fuel your body for optimal performance.
Bananas are nature’s original energy boosters. Bananas are rich in easy-to-digest carbs, natural sugars and potassium - excellent for providing energy to your muscles during exercise. The beauty of bananas is that they come with their own natural packaging, making them perfect for throwing into your gym bag and eating on the go. You could even dip a banana into peanut butter for an extra boost of protein.
Nuts And Seeds
Speaking of peanut butter, nuts and seeds are fantastic sources of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and fibre, benefitting much more than just your physical fitness. For example, walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain and heart health. Cashew nuts are an excellent source of copper, magnesium, and manganese, vital for immunity and bone health. A small handful of mixed nuts prior to a workout could be the ideal performance enhancer.
Slow-release carbohydrates are vitally important for maintaining energy levels throughout a workout, helping you increase your stamina and smash your goals. Dried fruit is one of the most convenient sources of slow-release carbs possible. You could either enjoy a handful of dried berries, apricots or pineapple or get creative in the kitchen and make your own energy bars with peanut butter, granola, mixed seeds and dried fruit.
Oatmeal has a reputation for being somewhat boring, but you can easily jazz up a dull bowl of oatmeal with nut butter and fresh fruit. Oats contain complex carbohydrates, excellent for slow-release energy to keep you going for endurance training. Furthermore, oats are a fantastic source of soluble fibre beta-glucan, which acts as an immunomodulating agent, helping the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases.
If you start to feel your energy levels dip during a workout, you might find it helpful to consume caffeine energy gel to combat fatigue and help you push on. Caffeine gel is specifically formulated for high-intensity endurance sports like running, cycling and rowing. Highly convenient and easy to consume mid-workout, energy gel packs offer a concentrated source of energy to replenish your depleted carbohydrate stores and boost your performance.
The humble rice cake is another “health food” that gets a bad rap for being bland and uninteresting. However, rice cakes are exceptionally light and easy to digest, making them the perfect last-minute snack to curb hunger pangs. You could always enliven your plain rice cakes with tasty, nutritious toppings such as energy-boosting nut butter and banana slices or protein-packed tuna salad.
Traditional hummus made from chickpeas and tahini - a smooth condiment made from ground toasted sesame seeds - can be the perfect pre-workout snack when eaten in moderation. Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, which increases the number of amino acids in the body, helping break down food, and grow and repair body tissue. Spread your hummus over a rice cake or use it as a dip for whole-grain crackers.
Avocados may be high in fat, but when eaten in moderation, monounsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, avocados are exceptionally high in fibre, which is vital for the slow breakdown of macronutrients - proteins, carbs, and fats. You can enjoy avocado as a pre-workout snack by mashing it onto toasted whole-grain bread and topping it with a poached egg for extra protein.
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