Top 3 Foods to Boost Cardio Fitness

Rocket Fuel: Caffeinated Gum

When: No more than 15 minutes before exercise

What: Three pieces of Stay Alert gum (300 milligrams of caffeine)

Cyclists in a recent Kent State study who chewed caffeinated gum 5 minutes before a time trial pedaled faster than when they popped it an hour beforehand. Caffeine in gum is readily absorbed, resulting in a rapid decrease in your perception of effort and pain, explains study author Edward Ryan, Ph.D. 

How much is too much? Learn your limit in Find Your Caffeine Comfort Zone.

More: Recovery Foods That Ease Muscle Soreness

Rocket Fuel: Beets

When: One to two hours before exercise

What: Two large beets, baked or in a smoothie

New research from St. Louis University found that runners who ate baked beets before exercising ran faster and felt less tired than those who didn't. Beets' nitrates help blood vessels dilate, increasing oxygen delivery to your muscles. 

Don't worry: Unlike nitrates in processed foods, those in vegetables aren't linked to health risks.

For more ways to power up your workout, follow The 100 Best Fitness Tips of All Time.

More: 18 Energy-Boosting Fruits

Rocket Fuel: Creatine and Baking Soda

When: Dose up for two days prior to high-intensity exercise

What: 20 grams of creatine + 0.2 gram of baking soda per pound of body weight

Drink it—dissolved in water—in four equal portions throughout the day. A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the combo boosted cycling power more than creatine alone. Creatine enhances your body's energy efficiency, while baking soda helps flush out lactic acid.

Can't down the stairs after your workout? Find out The Secret Cure for Muscle Soreness.

More: 6 Superfoods to Boost Endurance

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