Bananas are high in potassium (about 600 mg per medium banana), which is an important mineral and electrolyte necessary for muscular function and digestion. Potassium also helps balance the effects of sodium on your body. As other natural plant foods, bananas contain fiber (3 grams in a medium-sized one). Bananas also contain vitamins A, B, E, K and C as well as 6 mcg of folic acid, which is essential for red blood cell formation. All of this comes in a tasty package that has about 105 calories with 0 grams of fat.
Bananas fell into disfavor with many people during the rise of low-carbohydrate diets. Because of this, many perceive bananas to be sugary and starchy. While bananas do contain natural fruit sugars, they also come in a complete nutritional package with fiber and vitamins, so they don’t unbalance your blood sugar like refined sugars. A banana has a glycemic index rating of between 40 and 52, which is much lower than foods like white bread or table sugar. Meanwhile, the carbohydrates in bananas can help provide quick-acting long-term energy. The fiber in bananas can also help keep bowel movements regular, while the electrolytes this fruit contains can help restore electrolytic balance if you are experiencing digestive issues such as diarrhea. Again, bananas are perfect, natural human food.
2 – Coconut Water
Coconut water has been called “nature’s sports drink” and for good reason: no other food or beverage is richer in natural electrolytes. What are electrolytes? They are minerals present in your body fluids which carry an electric charge. You lose them when you sweat or lose fluid from your body, and if you lack them you might feel dizzy, weak or just plain exhausted. Coconut water is rich in potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and other key electrolytes, making it an amazing pre or post workout beverage.
3 – Chia Seeds
Chia seeds provide complete protein, as well as antioxidants, vitamins, a variety of minerals such as calcium, and are a rich, plant-based source of omega-3 vs omega 6 fatty acids (ALA). Chia seeds have a high level of soluble and insoluble fiber, and swell up to 15 times their size when mixed with liquids to create a filling gel that provides long-burning fuel as it cleanses your digestive system. Because they are so nutrient-dense and filling, chia seeds can help reduce cravings and keep you on track with your diet. I eat them daily.
Greens have more valuable nutrients than any other food group on the planet. You might be surprised to learn that greens even have high-quality, easily-assimilated amino acids, enough to build the protein that supports the muscle mass of the mighty, greens-eating gorilla, which pound-for-pound is the strongest animal on earth!
Blending helps make greens’full spectrum of nutrition readily available to the body. Nutrients are encased inside plant cells and getting their benefits requires these cells’walls to be ruptured. Greens need to be worked down to a creamy consistency, but most people simply don’t chew that much! Blending addresses this problem, helping your body absorb the maximum amount of nutrition from your greens.
And as we mentioned a moment ago, the Glowing Green Smoothie has both fruit and greens, giving you the carbs and amino acids your body needs to properly recover and repair following your workouts.
5 – Kale
Kale is an incredible beauty superfood that is one of my personal favorites. It is packed with phytochemicals, fiber and chloropyll, a major blood builder. The cleaner the blood the more beautiful we are. Kale is the most nutrient dense green vegetable available in your local market. It contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds. A 100 gram portion of kale contains: 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C, 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene), 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1, Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese. Best of all, each portion contains 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories. I remember when I was frequenting a yoga studio in New York that had a lot of serious practitioners. They were lean and incredibly strong. Nearly all of them ate kale on a daily basis.
6 – Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is typically grown on cane or beet molasses under carefully controlled conditions. It is rich in B vitamins, often including B12, making it an ideal vegetarian support food. Not everyone loves the taste but I find that it has a delicious cheesy flavor that I don’t otherwise get as I don’t consume dairy.
From a workout/recovery perspective, nutritional yeast may be even more impressive. It contains a whopping 8 grams of protein in just 1.5 tablespoons making it one of the richest plant sources of protein available. And unlike nuts and seeds, which are mostly fat in their composition, nutritional yeast is low fat and easily absorbed by the body after a workout. I’ve already mentioned my Dharma’s Kale Salad —the combination of both kale and nutritional yeast in this salad make it an incredible meal following a workout.
7 – Sprouted Buckwheat
Sprouted buckwheat is one of the most nutrient rich whole grains. Buckwheat isn’t actually wheat, so don’t worry about any gluten. Remember what we said about getting both carbs and amino acids after your workout? Well, buckwheat has both in spades. It is a low on the glycemic index, yet high in fiber, amino acids, manganese, magnesium, antioxidants and is also alkaline-forming in digestion. It may help with blood pressure and lowering high cholesterol.
I love to sprout buckwheat, sweeten it very mildly and then dehydrate to create healthy/raw granola. Once you have buckwheat granola, you can have it with almond milk, or as part of a raw Acai bowl. It’s an amazing food and definitely great for anyone who’s active and works out a lot.
8 – Acai
Açai is loaded with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including Omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, key vitamins and fiber. The Omega 3 fatty acids found in Açai maintain the structure and fluidity of cell membranes, facilitating the inflow of nutrients and the outflow of waste products, promoting youthful, smooth and radiant skin by keeping skin cells hydrated and strong. In terms of recovery, Acai has plenty of carbs and amino acids, making it a naturally balanced answer to your body’s post workout needs.
I hope this post was helpful. The eight foods I’ve listed have become staples and I can’t imagine going for very long without them. I’m sure they’ve played a big role in my strength and ability to do yoga or intense hikes for an hour or more without getting tired or feeling excessively sore afterward.
Now it’s time to go workout!