Fuel your body for training with these natural energy boosters
YOU DON’T HAVE TO reach for a pill or powder to get a workout boost. Several types of whole foods are proven ergogenics—substances that are known to enhance energy production or recovery. Best of all, with whole foods you get not only the performance aid but also all the other important nutrients that come with them. Here’s what science shows can help you get an edge, without putting a burden on your wallet.
RAISINS HOW MUCH:
¼ TO ½ CUP, DEPENDING ON THE LENGTH OF ACTIVITY Your body needs carbs as a primary energy source. But you don’t have to reach for bars or gels. Simple dried fruit like raisins can confer the same benefits at a fraction of the cost. Research from San Diego State University comparing equal amounts of carbs from raisins and sports gels found that the fruit provided the same benefits as the manufactured items as a pre-workout fuel for short-term exercise.
COFFEE HOW MUCH:
1 TO 2 CUPS (UP TO 16 OUNCES) DELIVERS 100 TO 200 MILLIGRAMS OF CAFFEINE
While coffee may be helpful to kick-start your day, the caffeine in that morning cup can also be a big boost to your workout. A review paper published in the journal Sports Medicine concluded that caffeine is perhaps most effective for activities that last 60 to 180 seconds, such as lifting weights or doing HIIT sequences in a workout.
COTTAGE CHEESE HOW MUCH:
1 CUP PROVIDES 26 GRAMS OF PROTEIN AND 2.7 GRAMS OF LEUCINE, BOTH OF WHICH HIT THE SWEET SPOT FOR THE AMOUNTS NEEDED TO MAKE MUSCLE “HAPPEN”
We know this dairy item is rich in protein, but it’s the type of amino acids that makes it especially key. Cottage cheese contains very high levels of leucine, the amino acid that helps trigger protein synthesis and is essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue.
Runners who had a pre-race helping of beets went an average of 3% faster in a 5K.