You know you need healthy carbs and protein to fuel your workouts and feed your muscles. But getting the RIGHT vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein can make you even stronger. Rev your results with these muscle foods, says Pamela Nisevich Bede, R.D.N., the owner of the sports nutrition counseling company Swim, Bike, Run, Eat.
1. Whey-protein Shake
When you lift weights, you break down muscle. Then your body rebuilds that muscle and makes it stronger. The amino acid leucine, found in whey protein powder, jump-starts the process, Bede says. A single scoop of whey protein (depending on the brand) can contain anything between 13g to 29g of protein. Blend a scoop of whey powder with milk – another great source of leucine – and fresh or frozen fruit.
2. Steak and Spinach
Red blood cells carry oxygen to your muscles, which need iron to stay healthy. If you’re deficient in the mineral (as many women are), your workouts will feel harder, Bede says. Beef and leafy greens are both good sources of iron. A 200g sirloin steak has 5.1mg iron (that’s 65% of recommended daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet) and a cup of spinach contributes to 11% of your recommended daily value. You can also get a day’s worth of it from fortified breakfast cereals.
3. Grilled Salmon
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and other fatty fish help prevent inflammation, so they’ll help you feel less joint and muscle pain after a tough exercise session. Plus, studies show that these fats may aid in building muscle tissue. But you can also opt for mackerel, herring and sardines if you don’t prefer salmon.