Good news, fellow coffee snobs: As it turns out, our beloved beverage is actually a great pre-workout drink (who knew?). According to ABC News, there are several reasons drinking our drug of choice is a great idea before exercising. This coffee news got me thinking: If drinking something like coffee before launching into downward dog is a good idea, what else have I been missing? As it turns out, there are several easy, under-the-radar workout fuels you probably haven't tried yet. Before your next trip to the gym, here are a few to try:
1. Drink coffee
Let’s start off with coffee, shall we? ABC News explains that, not only does the beverage improve circulation (gets oxygen into your precious, precious blood), but it also reduces pain, enhances memory, and fuels and preserves muscle. In other words, it's a win/win/win/win/win situation.
2. Try raw cacao
If you haven’t added cacao powder to your smoothies yet, I highly recommend trying it — it will trick your brain into thinking you're drinking a chocolate shake. It's also pretty great for your body, and an easy way to get some pre-workout energy, that thing we're all lacking right before going to the gym. According to fitness blog GabbyandLaird.com, the flavanols in raw cacao can help produce energy in your muscles . The ingredient is also rich in vitamins and antioxidants, according to HuffPost, and it can improve your mood.
3. Chug water first thing in the morning
One of the best ways to enhance your workout and day (and life, for that matter), is staying hydrated. Fit Day explains how drinking water first thing in the morning (HuffPost suggests adding lemon for additional benefits), helps with weight loss, constipation, and even ups your metabolism, among other things. So tomorrow morning, before you do anything else, chug some water.
4. Take coconut oil
Oh yeah, we're adding "enhances workout" to the unofficial "List of Awesome Things You Can Do With Coconut Oil" (it never ends!). According to LiveStrong, coconut oil is easily absorbed by the body, which means it can quickly be converted into energy. It also increases your metabolic rate, and is often used by bodybuilders to reduce fat. LiveStrong explains that taking coconut oil before a workout can "enhance performance, as the body would use the medium chain fatty acids in addition to carbohydrates to power exercise" — in other words, it prevents fatigue. Amazing stuff!
5. After your workout, eat like a fourth-grader
Don’t go nuts, but there are two snacks you should consider eating after working out: PB&J and chocolate milk. As in your favorite elementary school lunch time snacks. Yep, according to Men's Fitness, both peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chocolate milk are packed with protein and carbs, which can help your body recover after a long workout session. Try one or both!