Whether your immune system is weak due to stress, lack of sleep or excessive training, these five foods can help boost your winter workout.
This fibre-rich wholegrain does more than just tame cholesterol. The beta-glucan (a type of fibre) found in oats helps boost the activity of white blood cells that gobble up bacteria and viruses. And being fibre-rich means they gradually release carbs into your bloodstream, keeping your energy levels consistent during your workout. Try these overnight oats, bliss balls, or peanut-butter porridge.
“Red root vegetables such as beetroot contain high levels of nitrates, converted to nitric oxide in the body, and has been associated with increasing exercise tolerance by increasing blood flow and oxygen availability to muscles” says Naturopath, Stephen Eddey. The result? Delayed fatigue – making it possible to exercise longer and churn through more calories. Try adding beets to your daily juice, a beets powder to your smoothie or adding beets to your winter roast vegetable mix.
After exercise, your body needs specific nutrients to repair muscle and stabilise blood sugar. Citrus, such as mandarins, oranges, blood oranges, and grapefruit offer slow releasing carbs, immune-boosting vitamin C, and hydration in one convenient package. Pair with a protein source such as nuts or natural yoghurt, and you have a balanced, portable snack to help you recover quickly post workout. Winter is the perfect time to reap the benefits of citrus.
Sweet potatoes are a bit of an enigma in the vegetable world. Despite their name, they don’t actually belong to the potato family. Whereas potatoes are a starchy, tuberous crop with a swollen underground stem or shoot, sweet potatoes are a sweet-tasting tuberous root vegetable. Just one cup provide 15% RDI for niacin (a type of B vitamin) needed to unlock energy to reduce fatigue, as well as being a source of magnesium for strong muscles. Swap regular stodgy fries for sweet potato chips.
“Due to cinnamon’s effect on insulin, cinnamon may help to remove the glucose (sugar) uptake of glucose out of the blood and drawing it in to the muscles for energy hence the potential blood sugar lowering effects” adds Eddy. It’s still unknown how much cinnamon we need to achieve these positive effects – and while we can’t make recommendations yet, it can’t hurt to sprinkle this versatile spice to your granola, winter crumble, or toast.