When you're trying to build muscle and tone your body, working out is just half the battle. On top of your daily squats and bicycle crunches, you also need to make sure you're eating the right foods. After you exercise, your muscles need the right balance of nutrients to build themselves up.
"The best food is one taken with 30 minutes of exhaustive exercise, preferably containing a readily digested and absorbed carbohydrate and protein," says Dr. Robert Huizenga.
Eating the right foods will take your body from "injury and breakdown mode" to "rebuilding and enlarging" muscle mode.
"Your pre-workout and post-workout meals are the most important of the day because that is when your muscles are going to be hungriest and searching for energy to grow," says fitness expert Jackie Warner.
To help keep your body strong and replenished, try eating these six foods, which will help you get as strong as possible and gain muscle.
Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, which help replenish your muscles, but they are also low on the glycemic index, meaning they won’t cause a quick spike in your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and other important vitamins, such as potassium.
High in protein as well as natural glucose, Greek yogurt is a perfect choice for strong muscles. Top your yogurt off with some nuts and berries for extra nutrients and nourishment.
Another efficient protein source, almond butter is also an easy way to get in a healthy dose of necessary fats, along with carbohydrates and glucose. Almonds also contain the important antioxidant vitamin E, which helps protect against cell damage.
Apples are an abundant source of natural glucose, beneficial carbohydrates, and plentiful fiber. The benefits don’t stop there, though. Research has found that the polyphenols found in apples help you not only gain muscle strength, but burn fat as well.
“Taking in carbohydrates and protein together will replenish your body’s glycogen stores and help your body repair the damage to muscle cells that strength training produces,” says Warner. Animal products such as chicken, turkey slices, and lean beef contain a high amount of protein, and consuming them is an easy way to prevent muscle cell damage.