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3 Power Foods for a Power Workout

Working Out

Spending an hour sweating at the gym is great for your heart, lungs, and muscles, but to power this sort of explosive activity you’re going to need to add some healthy fuel. You could grab the nearest Gatorade and a granola bar, but there are much better choices available to the average gym denizen.

Before you pack a snack for your next workout, check out these three basic foods that can give your exercise program a massive boost:

Chocolate Milk. There’s nothing as delicious as a cold glass of chocolate milk — but it’s also one of the best post-workout drinks around, according to physiologist Joel Stager, director of Indiana University’s Human Performance Laboratory. Drinking water will put the fluid back in your system, but chocolate milk adds calcium, sugar, and just a little salt. It’s substantial enough to give your body something to metabolize after a hard workout and just fatty enough to hang around a while and help prevent more serious after-workout snacking.

Coffee. We all know that coffee can help us push through long nights at the office or early mornings when we’re really not ready to get out of bed, but it’s also a great workout tool — in moderation. According to Molly Kimball, a sports dietician with Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans, the caffeine in coffee can give a boost to both physical endurance and stamina. That might be why so many runners take time for a cup of Joe before heading out.

Sweet Potato. Although it’s probably not the first food you think of eating right after a workout, a sweet potato can go a long way to help to repair the damage caused by exercise. They’re also rich in Vitamin E, which can help protect against heart disease, they have more potassium than bananas and contain plenty of copper for healthy muscle production. Pop one in the microwave for four to five minutes for a quick post-workout power snack.

A good workout can provide a huge range of benefits beyond just toning muscles and increasing your cardio fitness. Exercise is vital to your well-being, and you might as well power it with foods that will set you up for success over the long term. Throw out those protein bars and sugary electrolyte drinks, instead, give some new workout power foods a try. Chocolate milk, coffee, and sweet potatoes might just be the game-changers you’ve been looking for.