If you’ve kicked off the year with a new walking habit, you might notice that you’re hungrier than you used to be. Your old snacks may not fill you up like they used to, and even though you should be seeing more energy thanks to regular exercise, you may find yourself sleepy and slow. If you haven’t changed your eating habits to meet your body’s new demands, the problem may be in your pantry.
The best post-walk snacks need special nutrition to restore what you’ve spent while exercising. You also need the right foods to support new muscle development. If your body gets hungry enough, it will actually consume your muscles. Strong, well-nourished muscles, on the other hand, eat fat. Without the right support, your body can sabotage itself. It’s time to consider what you’re eating.
Unlike carbohydrates, protein goes straight to work building muscle. Muscle plays two critical roles in fitness. First and foremost, the more muscle you have, the easier it is to move. Muscle tone improves speed, endurance, and appearance. Secondly, muscles burn fat even when you’re at rest. Unlike fatty tissue, muscles need constant nourishment. Eating the right foods to build muscle will actually help you burn more fat.
Like carbs, protein offers a lot of energy. Unlike most carbs, that energy isn’t comprised of empty calories. Energy from protein comes with key nutrition for your entire body. Without the nourishment high protein foods provide, you’ll struggle to build and maintain muscle mass.
Recent diet fads have taught us to live in fear of carbohydrates, but not all grains and sugars are out to destroy your fitness goals. A healthy diet depends on picking the right carbohydrates. These give you the energy you need to get through the day and help your function at your best and brightest. Healthy carbs usually come packed with vital nutrients, too, which will help you feel better and progress at a faster rate.
It’s important to eat shortly after a workout. Energy stores have been depleted, and your body is primed and ready to process new food. Picking the right foods, however, is vital. The best snacks feature protein and help replenish your energy.
Nuts offer a great burst of protein. They’re perfect for walkers looking to feed developing muscles. Since they’re easy to carry and store, they are among the best healthy snacks in the world. If you walk during breaks at work, on your way to work, or between important events in your daily schedule, you can keep a bag of nuts in your car, desk, or bag. Although they’re popular, peanuts alone cannot give you the nutrition a variety of nuts will offer. Cashews and almonds are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals peanuts lack. They are also high in fiber and protein.
Although you should limit your carbohydrate intake, everyone needs some as part of a balanced diet. If you need some carbs on your plate, try oats. Not only are they staggeringly effective at lowering heart disease, they also have more protein than just about any other kind of grain. Like nuts, oats come packed with high percentages of crucial vitamins and minerals many modern diets lack. If you run in the morning, a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to restore your energy. Some snack bars and baked goods also have oats, but be sure the sugar content of these foods doesn’t undermine the health benefits of the oats themselves.
We all know fruit is good for us, but sometimes we forget exactly how much it helps us in reaching our goals. Fruit contains lots of healthy sugars that satisfy your sweet tooth without making your jeans too tight. They also have lots of fiber, which is a crucial part of digestion, and few things slow down a good walking habit like an aching stomach. Most importantly, fruit contains the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function and develop new tissues. Since walking builds muscle mass, walkers need superior nutrition. Diabetics and walkers with high blood sugar need to be careful around tropical fruit. Bananas, mangoes, and pineapple may be delicious, but these fruits have a much higher concentration of sugars than fruit grown in colder climates. Berries and apples are the best fruits for walkers. They provide just the right balance of sugars to keep you active and energized.
Meat is a hotly debated subject in the fitness world. Some health officials insist it’s ultimately unhealthy, even if consumed cautiously. Others insist it’s a fitness enthusiast’s best friend. The least debated meats are the lean protein from birds, particularly large birds, like turkeys. Unless you are morally or physically incapable of consuming meat, a turkey sandwich will not hurt you, especially if you use whole grain bread. The less bread you use, the better. The lean meat itself is a fantastic resource for your growing muscles. If you supplement your walking with weight lifting or other intense muscle-building activities, it’s likely you’ll need to eat lean meat regularly in order to keep up with your body’s demands. Sandwiches are easy to pack in advance, and they’re great for walkers on the go.
Ultimately, you should confer with your doctor before making significant changes to your diet. Changing out packs of chips and cookies for nuts and fruits is almost always a safe transition, but be careful of food allergies. Unless you have a preexisting condition, however, your doctor should give you the green light. You need to replace the energy you burn and support your muscles as they develop. Even your bones need good nutrition, and without the right foods, exercise may push them to the breaking point. Fortunately, lots of tasty, healthy snacks are available for walkers. Whether you need nuts and fruit to keep with you as you travel, or you’d prefer to sit down with a bowl of oatmeal after your morning walk, these options will improve your results.
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