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Foods that Optimize Your Fitness Performance

The Best (and Worst) Foods for Fitness

Whether you are a fitness novice or a pro, it’s great to know which foods can enhance your athletic performance and which foods can hinder performance. Included here is a list of foods that optimize fitness performance and foods that just don’t. Don’t be stingy with this list, be sure to share these tips with your workout buddies!

Nuts and Seeds

Wait a minute… how am I going to get full eating like a bird?

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients and omega 3 fatty acids which will fuel your recovery after an intense workout. Nuts and seeds are calorically dense, making them the perfect on-the-go snacks or add-in to a satisfying smoothie.

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc…


Whole grains are complex carbohydrates, meaning they digest slowly in your body allowing your body to absorb several nutrients. Simple carbohydrates; (candy, white rice, white bread) have been stripped of its nutrients during processing leaving your body with little nutrients to absorb. When carbohydrates are digested they are absorbed as glycogen that will replenish depleted muscular tissue after any extreme workout. The correct carbohydrate sources will provide athletes with ongoing energy and stamina to get every repetition they deserve. Don’t go all caveman on us, athletes need carbohydrates! Portions control carbohydrates and mostly consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetable carbohydrate sources.

Quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, beets, beans, farro, etc…

Healthy Proteins  


No, bacon is not a healthy protein. Despite what that ripped athlete at your gym tells you, it’s not the best protein source to overconsume. Protein is used for muscle repair and construction. If you are looking to add some pounds to your one-rep max back squat, be sure you are consuming an adequate amount of protein. Our bodies need protein to build muscle meaning more strength.

Focus on consuming healthy proteins; salmon, eggs, chicken, pork tenderloin, beans, and quinoa for example.

Worst Foods for Fitness:


Nothing will slow you down quite like alcohol, it has lasting negative effects on fitness training and performance. Alcohol has no nutritional value, meaning it is just empty calories. Also, it has been shown to hinder recovery and disrupt sleep, two very important factors in any training program!

Processed Foods, i.e., granola bars, pastries, crackers

Processed foods are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. The sugar will increase your waistline making those pull-ups, push-ups, and handstand push-ups even more difficult. In addition, these processed treats do not provide the nutrient density than other whole foods deliver, leaving your body short of necessary nutrients to aid in recovery.

Ultimately, eating well should be part of your whole mind/body/soul wellness effort. Sometimes we need a kickstart to get out of our bad habits – in which case a wellness resort or program could be helpful – click here to check out Hilton Head Health’s award-winning wellness programs. Whatever you do, set the intention to do better and take things one step at a time. Your body will thank you.