Dragging through your Pure Barre class after recent holiday indulgences? It’s hard to make the most out of every little isometric movement when you barely had enough energy to make it to class in the first place. So, you’ve learned the hard way that what you eat can negatively affect your stamina and performance. But did you know there are foods that can boost your endurance? Here are my top 10 foods to fuel your Pure Barre class. Eat these regularly and you’ll be back on your feet in no time!
- Banana. Sugar is a quick source of energy, but it won’t last through 55 minutes of LTB time. A banana is one of the more sugar-dense fruits, but also contains a hefty dose of fiber, making it a long lasting source of energy. Bananas are also a rich source of potassium, a mineral lost in sweat. Blend extra-sweet spotty bananas into a smoothie or snack on one with peanut butter.
- Dates. Naturally sweet dates are like natures candy! A compact source of fuel, dates are perfect for anyone who needs a boost but doesn’t want to workout on a full stomach. Dates are also rich in a wide array of minerals including iron, which is especially important for active women who have a higher risk of iron deficiency. Stuff them with almond butter or use them to sweeten a homemade energy bar.
- Chocolate. Oh happy day! That’s right, chocolate is actually a perfect compliment to Pure Barre! It contains a substance called epicatechin, which was found in animal studies to boost endurance by actually changing the skeletal and cardiac muscles in ways that increase endurance capacity. Try blending a couple tablespoons of raw cacao powder and a teaspoon of honey into unsweetened almond milk for a low sugar chocolate milk or mix dark chocolate chips into a homemade trail mix.
- Plain yogurt. With protein and carbohydrate in a light, easily digestible form, yogurt is a great preworkout snack. It also contains probiotics, the healthy bacteria that live in our gut. Recent science shows an emerging connection between the health of our gut bacteria and body weight. Are the probiotics in yogurt the reason it’s been linked to improved fat burning and weight loss? That’s to be determined, but including a little plain yogurt in your smoothie or sweetened with a honey for a snack seems like a smart choice. If you don’t eat dairy, look for almond and coconut milk yogurts.
- Spirulina. Spirulina is a type of algae you can purchase in powder or tablet form. It doesn’t taste bad…but it doesn’t exactly taste great either. So why eat it? I often refer to spirulina as natures multivitamin, since it’s such a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Spirulina also has the highest concentration of protein of any other food. Blended into a smoothie, you’ll hardly know it’s there!
- Fresh fruit and vegetable juice. Light and easy to digest, freshly pressed juice is nature’s sports drink. Pass on the sugary, artificially dyed drinks and make a glass of fresh juice instead. It’s perfect for anyone looking to fuel an early morning Pure Barre class before you have an appetite for solid food. Use two pieces of vegetables for every piece of fruit to prevent it from getting too sweet, then throw in a few handfuls of greens.
- Quinoa. An ancient South American grain, quinoa was a staple of the Incan diet until it was banned by the Spanish during their conquest, believing it increased the stamina of their warriors. They may have been on to something. Quinoa is a rich source of high fiber carbohydrate, complete protein and a multitude of vitamins and minerals including copper, which helps create energy from carbohydrate. Swap oats for a bowl of quinoa in the morning to superpower your day.
- Maca powder. Maca powder is made from the ground root of the maca plant, which is native to Peru. It has a malty, vanilla flavor. You can purchase it at most health food stores or online. Maca has long been used as an energy booster, and there are even some small studies to back that up. Add a teaspoon or two to your morning smoothie in lieu of drinking coffee.
- Wild salmon. Wild salmon is one of the richest sources of omega 3 fats. Most people are aware of the heart health benefits of omega 3 fats, but did you know the anti-inflammatory fats also help your heart pump more blood during exercise and may even reduce post workout soreness? Sounds like wild salmon is perfect for an extra-shaky Pure Barre class!
- Tart cherries. Tart cherries are one of the most antioxidant rich foods out there. They contains unique types of anthocyanins that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Studies shown tart cherries can reduce muscle damage and post workout pain and soreness. If you can’t find fresh tart cherries, frozen are readily available. You can also purchase tart cherry concentrate at many health food stores and online. Swirl tart cherry concentrate into plain yogurt or snack on cherries with a little dark chocolate for an extra boost of stamina!
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a private practice dietitian and food blogger at www.anavocadoaday.blogspot.com. She offers nutrition coaching nationwide via telephone and Skype.