In Australia, cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 have thankfully fallen to an impressive low, and with the rollout of vaccines imminent, now is the time to start getting your strength and energy back after a long period of staying home. Now, with the New Year well underway, begin to concentrate on fueling your body with the right nutrients to support strength and fitness, and to keep you feeling full of energy throughout the day.
Believe it or not, the foods you consume have a huge impact on how you feel and can either support or hinder strength, energy, and stamina in daily life and at the gym. Some foods are better than others when it comes to promoting energy, but you don’t need to restrict yourself from the delicious foods you love to support a strong, energetic body. At PT Academy, our educational courses including our Certificate 3 and 4 programs focus on holistic fitness, which includes nutrition and lifestyle support to help clients build their fitness inside and out.
Foods to Build Lean Muscle
Strength comes from within your muscles, which require protein and fats to maintain mass, repair after harsh workouts, and gain strength. If you are trying to build strength and muscle, adding more protein to your diet will help to enhance the work you do during your workouts, and help you to feel stronger each time you hit the gym. Here are some of our favorite high-protein foods, but of course, feel free to choose options that suit your tastes!
- Almonds (6 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving)
- Broccoli (3 grams of protein per 1-cup serving)
- Chicken (54 grams of protein in an average skinless chicken breast, 14 grams of protein in an average skinless chicken thigh, 13 grams of protein in an average skinless drumstick)
- Eggs (6 grams of protein per egg)
- Greek yogurt (17 grams of protein per single-serve container)
- Ground beef (16 grams of protein per 4-ounce serving)
- Peanuts (7 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving)
- Salmon (17 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving)
- Shrimp (18 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving)
- Tofu (14 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving)
- Tuna (20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving)
- Turkey (25 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving)
Foods to Support Natural Energy
The human body requires a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for health and energy, which is why we recommend eating a variety of foods to give yourself as many energy-boosting benefits as possible. Healthy fats, B vitamins, potassium, omega-3s, complex carbohydrates, protein, and a variety of other nutrients help to support energy, and can be found in the following foods among many more:
- Apples are rich in antioxidants and contain natural sugars that help boost energy production
- Avocados are an amazing source of B vitamins and healthy fats that help support energy and have additional skin-supporting benefits
- Bananas contain potassium, vitamin B6, and healthy complex carbs to support energy – plus they’re great for preventing cramping!
- Dark chocolate is known to have small amounts of caffeine, which help to boost mood and energy, but chocolate also contains plenty of antioxidants that help enhance blood flow to the brain and muscles
- Eggs have plenty of protein and are abundant in leucine, an amino acid that helps with energy production
- Oranges are undoubtedly the tastiest source of vitamin C, which also happens to help support energy production
- Popcorn has plenty of complex carbohydrates, which your body processes slowly for consistent energy support throughout the day
- Salmon is a great source of protein and B vitamins, plus it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce fatigue and combat inflammation
- Sweet potatoes are a great complex carb source, plus fiber, vitamin A, and manganese
Simple Healthy Daily Meal Plan
Want to try to eat healthy while supporting strength and energy? We’ve created a super simple meal plan to get you started on your healthy eating journey:
- Protein Pancakes: Combine 1 egg with 1 ripe, mashed banana. Mix until well combined using a fork, then add a pinch of cinnamon (or your favorite spice) to enhance the flavor. Add a little coconut oil to a pan on medium heat, then spoon your pancake batter onto the pan as you would a regular pancake. Wait until small bubbles appear on the edges of the cakes (about 2-3 minutes) then flip and cook the other side until golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Serve with all-natural maple syrup, agave syrup, or peanut butter.
- Fruit Salad: Cut strawberries, apples, and oranges into bite-size pieces, then mix with blueberries or blackberries. Consider adding chopped fresh mint for a refreshing burst of flavor.
- Turkey Hummus Sandwich: Using whole wheat or multi-whole grain bread, smear one side with protein-rich chickpea hummus. Next, add a layer of sliced turkey breast and a few
- slices of an aged gruyere, which has a great protein content. Finish your sandwich with a handful of spinach and a drizzle of olive oil. Consider sprinkling some Italian herbs (like oregano) before topping your sandwich with a final piece of bread.
- Caprese Salad: Slice 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella and layer with slices of Roma tomato and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and top with a sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Popcorn: Put a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat, and add two tablespoons of coconut oil. Add a single layer of corn kernels to the pot and cover. When you hear the kernels begin to pop, carefully shake the pot with the lid on to keep the kernels from burning. Take the popcorn off the heat and toss with a pinch of table salt, garlic salt, Old Bay, or your favorite seasoning that contains salt.
- Turkey Bacon Wrapped Scallops: Wrap a slice of turkey bacon around a raw scallop and secure with a toothpick through the center of the scallop. Brush each scallop with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place under the broiler for 10-15 minutes or until springy and golden brown.
- Roast Chicken Quarters: Dry your chicken quarters, then season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Quarter a lemon and roughly chop a red onion, then place all ingredients on a baking sheet and roast in a 190 C. oven until golden brown, and any juices run clear, about an hour. Remove the chicken, lemons, and onions from the pan and add a few splashes of low-sodium chicken broth, scraping the bottom to remove the fond. Cook down to thicken and intensify the flavor, and squeeze a few roasted lemon quarters into the sauce for a tangy finish.
- Balsamic Brussel Sprouts: Wash and trim 200 grams of Brussels sprouts, then slice each in half vertically. Add sprouts to a bowl and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar until evenly coated. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then spread over a baking sheet. Add to your 190 C. oven for 25-40 minutes or until the edges of the sprouts are crisp and the centers are tender.
- Dark Chocolate: Finish your day of healthy, energy-boosting eating with a few squares of high-cocoa dark chocolate, or pair with strawberries for a classic sweet treat.