Brightly Colored Fruits and Vegetables: Leafy greens like spinach, collards, kale, chard; cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower; orange and yellow fruits and veggies like yams, carrots, mangoes, apricots; red options like tomatoes, watermelon; and blues and purples like blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, beets, plums.
- Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that counter natural damage that occurs during exercise. They also provide the large variety of vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function optimally. Getting these nutrients from foods is much more efficient than any vitamin or supplement due to the interactions of nutrients within the food.
- Try to consume a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack. A goal for adults for fruit intake is one and one half to two cups per day, and for vegetables 2 to 3 cups per day.
More: How to Add Frozen Fruits and Veggies to Every Meal
High-Fiber and Nutrient-Dense Carbohydrates: Sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, barley, bulgur, wild and brown rice, whole oats, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, legumes, lentils, fresh fruit, winter squashes, and other vegetables.
- Include carbohydrate sources throughout the day in order to maintain energy levels and supply adequate energy for activity.
- High-fiber choices will keep you satisfied longer than foods that have low fiber or are highly processed.
More: 3 Tips to Add Real Fiber to Your Diet
Healthy Fats: Salmon and other fish, olive oil and other vegetable oil, olives, avocado, nuts and seeds, nut butters, seed butters.
- Healthy fats are necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, a source of essential fatty acids our bodies cannot make, as well as other functions like decreasing inflammation and providing a valuable fuel source.
- For most adults 5 to 7 tsp. per day are recommended. Remember, portions are very small.
More: Understanding Healthy Fats in Your Diet
Quality Proteins: Eggs, lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, low-fat dairy including milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, dairy substitutes like soy milk and almond milk.
- Protein is critical to recovery and repair of muscle and other tissue damage that occurs with exercise. Protein needs are higher during the start of a new training cycle as greater adaptation is occurring.
- Spread your protein sources out throughout the day for optimal recovery.
- Goal intake for most adults is between 5 to 7 oz. per day. These recommendations may increase in periods of heavy training.
More: How to Pack in Your Protein