I, along with a lot of people I know, absolutely love exercising and working out. A lot of others, ( and I mean a lot!) do not. It doesn’t matter which group you fall into, the hardest thing to do TO MAKE SMART DECISIONS AND EAT HEALTHY. The easy part is exercising, the hard part is making the choices of what to eat on a daily basis.
So I’d like to share with you My Top Super foods that will help you eat on the go, build muscle and most importantly live a longer healthier life. And they are tasty too!
First, what exactly are “superfoods?”
Basically, it’s an unscientific term for foods that offer high nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals – which are special chemicals produced by plants that can fight disease, reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. They fall into different categories like fish, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, meats, etc. But generally, they are natural, whole foods.
Let’s start with the fruits. An easy on-the-go snack that I eat a lot on my way to the gym or between training clients is our Mr. Vitamin C friend–the orange. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which repairs muscle and tissue damage from exercise. Oranges are rich in folic acid, potassium and fiber. Packed with water, they’re hydrating and make great pre- and post-workout snacks.
They’re not just for family picnics. You can enjoy watermelon as a snack or a sweet dessert. Cut up in chunks or slices, it’s an easy and thirst-quenching snack on its own. You can even drink it — add a couple of chunks to a smoothie or make a watermelon agua fresca.
Watermelon is high in vitamin C and carotenoids – antioxidants that can help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease and act to enhance your immune system. So EAT UP!
Yummy! I love cantaloupe. Just a quarter of a cantaloupe supplies as much Vitamin A and C as most people need in an entire day! WOW!
This is tasty on its own or you can easily add a scoop of yogurt or cottage cheese to half a cantaloupe for protein and a quick and easy breakfast or anytime snack. Or wrap slices of lean ham around cantaloupe chunks and toss into a sandwich bag or tupperware for a yummy, cold meal on-the-run.
4. SPINACH Popeye the Sailor Man was onto something when he would indulge in his spinach in order to muscle up and take on Brutus, because spinach is an excellent source of calcium, carotenoids, fiber and vitamin C. Now, you’re not going to get big muscles, but you will be making a healthy food choice. I add spinach to salads, sandwiches and sometimes just eat it by itself.
Another great green vegetable is broccoli. A great deal of Vitamin C. I simply like to steam ’em and eat ’em. They need minimal preparation to eat and are great raw.
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse of calcium and fiber. Personally, I enjoy eating it raw, but if you need to cook it, you can throw it into soups or prepare it any way you would cook spinach. Making homemade kale chips is an inexpensive, tasty way to eat kale at home or easily packed and eaten as a snack.
7. BRAN CEREAL
If you are a cereal person like myself, the next time you rise in the morning to get your day started, eat Kellogg’s All-Bran Original or Post 100% Bran Cereal. A half-cup serving provides more than a third of the fiber you need for an entire day – and also reduces the risk of diverticulosis and heart disease. Be sure to add some berries for extra flavor and antioxidants.
8. ALMOND MILK
And you can’t enjoy cereal without another super food and that is Almond Milk. Soak it in the bowl with the bran cereal and eat up that calcium. Almond milk is lower in fat and calories, yet high in vitamin E and other heart healthy fats compared to whole, 1%, 2% and soy milk.
A super great food that is beneficial to eat post-workout are beans. Very rich in protein, iron, folic acid and fiber. I eat them all…garbanzo, pinto, black, kidney, navy & lentils. They are a cheap, plant-based source of protein which will help transform the fat in your body into muscle, and of course, we all want that.
Beans are easy to eat and the possibilities are endless. You can combine beans with some salsa and lime juice and make a quick salad. Or build a burrito with your choice of beans and some veggies and wrap it up in a corn tortilla. If beans aren’t your favorite or you have picky kids, pureeing them into dips is an easy and yummy way to add more beans into your diet.
Packed with fiber, vitamins A, B6 and potassium, the average sized banana contains only 100 calories. They are so easy to transport and eat on the run. You can throw them in your gym bag to power up before a workout or add some peanut butter for protein for a great post-workout snack. It’s not hard to see that bananas have major “a-peel.” (This is me as a Sexy Statue Eating Banana at 2012’s Halloween Dance Party at Barry’s Bootcamp).
11. SWEET POTATOES
My absolute favorite vegetable to indulge in, and last superfood on this list, is sweet potatoes! Prepare them for lunch, dinner and the upcoming holidays. It is one of the best vegetables you can eat and it helps that they have a little sweet taste. So put down the apple pie and eat sweet potatoes instead!
There’s nothing better than a simple, baked sweet potato. Take a clean, scrubbed sweet potato and stab it a few times before placing it directly on the rack in a 425-degree oven for an hour. If you’re in a rush, you can nuke a sweet potato in the microwave and you can cook a healthy lunch in your office kitchen in ten minutes.
If you partake of these foods already, then terrific for you! If not, try to be open to how they can help your body be healthier so you can live a happier and smarter life. Remember this next time you are at the market: if you don’t put it in the shopping cart, it will never end up in your bag, which means it will never end up in your home, which means it will never end up in your stomach. So, just grab those superfoods and put them in your shopping cart!
Scott Haddock became a certified fitness trainer in 2007 and started working at Barry’s Bootcamp in 2009. He enjoys helping people sculpt their bodies and transition into a state and a mind-set of great change, discipline and the knowledge that they can do the work if they just put forth the effort. Everyone is an athlete in their own way!
Born and raised in Tennessee. Graduated from the Univ. of Tennessee in 1998. Degree in Communications and minored in the arts. Played college baseball. Lived in Chicago & worked for Hyatt Hotels & then migrated to Los Angeles in 2002. Since living here, Scott has worked for the Dr. Phil TV show as the crowd warm-up for the show, started working for Universal Studios Hollywood in 2004, and still works there currently.
Hobbies include going to the movies, outdoor activities, traveling to experience new places, comedy clubs, dancing and maybe being the center of attention at a karaoke bar. Exercising is a given.
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