TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

The Best Fitness Foods For Women

By Daily Graphic

Here's a guide to some foods that will help in your fitness activities.

Avocados

The cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat in these green health bombs can help keep your body strong and pain free. University of Buffalo researchers found that competitive women runners who ate less than 20 per cent fat were more likely to suffer injuries than those who consumed at least 31 per cent.

Peter J. Horvath, Ph.D., a professor at the university, speculates that the problem is linked to extreme low-fat diets, which weaken muscles and joints. 'A few slices of avocado a day are a great way to boost fat for women who are fat shy,' says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.

Bananas

Thanks to bananas' high potassium content, peeling one is a speedy solution to that stitch in your side. While a lack of sodium is the main culprit behind muscle cramps, studies show potassium plays a supporting role: You need it to replace sweat losses and help with fluid absorption.

Bananas are also packed with energising carbohydrates. One medium-size fruit has 400 milligrams of potassium and as many carbs (29 grams) as two slices of whole-wheat bread.

Berries

USDA researchers recently placed fresh berries on their list of the 20 foods richest in antioxidants. Just a handful of blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries is an excellent source of these potent nutrients, which protect muscles from free radical damage that might be caused by exercise.

Shop for berries by the shade of their skin: The deeper the colour, the healthier the fruit.

Carrots

Close your eyes and they almost taste like crunchy candy. Carrots pack complex carbs that provide energy to muscles and potassium to control blood pressure and muscle contractions, says Leslie Bonci, R.D. And a half cup has just 35 calories

Whole grain cereal

Looking for something to nosh before you hit the gym? Raid your cereal stash. The healthiest brands contain endurance-boosting complex carbs and muscle-building protein.

Sixty minutes before a workout, fuel up with a 200-calorie snack: cup of whole-grain cereal with 4 ounces of fat-free milk. 'When you eat something before exercising, you have more energy, so you can work out harder and perhaps longer.

And you'll be less likely to overeat afterward,' says Leslie Bonci, R.D.

Chicken thighs

Skimp on iron and zinc and your energy will flag. Cooking up some juicy chicken thighs or turkey drumsticks is the best way to get more of both. 'Dark-meat poultry is significantly lower in fat than red meat yet has all the iron, zinc, and B vitamins that women need in their diets,' says Seattle sports nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., author of Power Eating.

Cranberries

This packable fruit delivers a generous pre or post-workout blast of carbohydrates. Plus, cranberries have proanthocyanins, compounds that help prevent and fight urinary tract infections.

Running to the bathroom every five minutes definitely isn't the kind of workout you need.

Eggs

Don't skip the yolk. One egg a day supplies 215 milligrams of cholesterol— not enough to push you over the 300-milligram daily cholesterol limit recommended by the American Heart Association.

Plus, the yolk is a good source of iron, and it's loaded with lecithin, critical for brain health, says nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D.

Oranges

'They're portable. They are fruits you can get year-round. And they're a rich source of vitamin C,' says Leslie Bonci, R.D., 'which helps repair muscle tissue.'

One orange has all the C a woman needs each day — close to 75 milligrams. Vitamin C is also key for making collagen, a tissue that helps keep bones strong.

Peanuts

Female soccer players kicked and sprinted just as well in the final minutes of a game as they did at the start when they added two ounces of peanuts a day to their regular diet, says University of Buffalo professor, Peter J. Horvath.

The extra fat may help improve endurance by giving muscles energy to burn up front so they can spare muscle glycogen stores later.

Potatoes

'The electrolytes, sodium and potassium, help maintain fluid balance in and around cells and make sure muscles contract as they need to,' says Leslie Bonci, R.D.

Salmon

Great for heart health, but here's an added twist: New studies are suggesting that monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats might help lessen abdominal fat. It's too soon to understand the link, but 'this could be particularly good for women working to tone their core,' says nutritionist Susan Kleiner.