Best foods for fitness

You might be trying to lose weight or getting competitive with sports, but whatever your reasons for exercising, eating the right diet can go a long way to keeping you healthy and injury free. Here are the top fitness foods to keep you in tip-top shape.

fitness foods

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It's no surprise to find fruit on the list, let's face it. But some fruits are better than others when it comes to giving you the vitamins and energy you need for a serious exercise regime. There's a reason, for example, that oranges are renowned as a half-time snack - they are packed with vitamin C, which can help to reduce muscle soreness, citric acid aids the absorption of calcium and the naturally-occurring sugars boost energy.

For a more long-term solution to flagging energy levels, however, you just can't beat a banana. While the glucose gives you that instant sugar kick, fructose is more slowly absorbed, providing a steady flow of fuel during your workout. As a good source of potassium and vitamin B6, they help to manufacture red blood cells and break down proteins, carbs and fats as you go.

Once again, no surprises here, as long as you choose the right veggie snack. Carrots contain highly concentrated sugars for an instant kick, but it's the betacarotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body, that will keep you fit and well. This hard-working antioxidant helps to prevent heart disease, reduce high cholesterol and speed up your post-exercise recovery time.

Another superfood comes in the shape of broccoli - while it won't give you that instant energy boost, a long list of healthy nutrients, including zinc, vitamin B5 and folic acid, will aid your body when it comes to metabolising fats into energy, boost your mood (and your motivation), and the calcium within helps your muscles to relax post exercise.

Any hardcore exercise regime requires protein. Tuna and salmon are a great place to start. The former is low-fat and packed with protein, and both contain the all-important omega-3 fatty acids that help burn fat and give you energy. If you're not a fish fan and can't face several servings a week, try fish oil pills to help boost your fitness levels.

Beef, though not the leanest of proteins, is an excellent source of iron, which can be depleted during exercise. Alternatively, opt for lean meats like turkey which, is high in B vitamins, zinc and low in saturated fats.

And don't forget your eggs. These fabulous protein-filled little packages are also a source of B vitamins, zinc and iron, not to mention vitamin D, essential to keep your bones healthy, and vitamin K to help heal minor sports injuries by ensuring the blood clots normally.

For a thirst
When it comes to the added extras, a pint of the white stuff is hard to beat. Calcium strengthens the bones, vitamin E boosts immunity and potassium protects the heart - and if you lacking in stamina, try chocolate milk, which perfectly combines carbs and proteins to improve your endurance.

Green tea, while it's not an on-the-go fitness favourite, is packed with antioxidants that have been shown to help protect the body from all sorts of ills by boosting the immune system, and fight off those that do take hold.

And, of course, don't forget good old H2O. Without it, all the superfoods in the world won't help, as it flushes toxins from the system, regulates body temperature, insulates joints and supplies essential minerals. Not bad for something that's available straight from the tap.