September is known as National Fruits and Vegetables Month, an observance and awareness campaign aimed at educating consumers about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. The reason why this is important? Many Americans are not meeting the recommended guidelines of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Fresh produce is great not only because it's a valuable part of your diet, but because it plays a role in your post workout recovery. While we know that pairing protein and carbohydrates provides optimal post workout health, produce like watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, cucumbers and tomatoes boast a high water content, so they can help with your post workout hydration goals as well!
Below we explore ways to seamlessly incorporate these into your lifestyle, so you can get in on all of these great benefits for yourself.
If you are finishing your workout in the afternoon or evening, and love to refuel with a bowl of pasta, consider adding some veggies to the pasta itself or tomato sauce! Carrots, tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers or onions are great additions to help increase your fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant intake.
Adding fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to your post workout smoothie is an easy way to boost nutrition content. Bananas are known for their potassium content, an important electrolyte for exercise, while fruits like cherries and blueberries add high amounts of polyphenols to help with muscle recovery. Greens, like spinach or kale, can add extra iron and vitamin C, magnesium and vitamin A to your smoothie.
Make a homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, cereal and dried fruit. Dried fruits have the same nutrients as fresh fruit, but they are condensed into smaller serving sizes. Since they don’t require refrigeration, dried fruit works great as a portable snack! Try to buy dried fruits without added sugars to limit overall sugar intake.
If you’re a morning workout person and love to refuel with an egg dish and some toast, this is a great opportunity to add some fruits and veggies in. Whether you’re adding greens and tomatoes to your sandwich, adding veggies to your breakfast scramble or omelet, or serving your breakfast alongside some fruit or 100% fruit juice, fresh produce can be a seamless breakfast addition!
If you're a peanut butter toast person, consider adding fresh fruit to your peanut butter for extra flavor and a boost of nutrients. Berries, like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries, sliced banana, peaches and pears are all great toast toppers! For more of a savory option, layer avocado with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
Greek yogurt is an excellent post workout protein option, and it's a great vehicle to add fresh, frozen or dried fruits to as well. Get adequate carbohydrates through the addition of cereal or granola and your favorite fruits!
Need to grab your post workout meal on the go? Grab a sandwich and enhance it with your favorite veggies. Greens, tomatoes, sprouts, onions, avocado and sliced zucchini are all great toppers. Or skip the chips and instead add an apple or orange to enjoy alongside your sandwich.
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