Super-Fuel Foods For Cardio Training


5 Nutrient-Dense Foods for Cardio Training

Carbohydrates are a controversial subject among nutrition experts. There are a fair number who are against them, claiming that a ketogenic diet is better for athletic performance. But the common wisdom that prevails is moderation. When considering macronutrients, your body needs a certain amount of daily carbohydrates to function at peak efficiency.

For cardio, especially long bouts of it, it is critical to make sure you’re getting a balanced ratio of macronutrients in your body. Carb loading before a long-distance event is appropriate when done correctly. But for normal, daily physical activity, carbs shouldn’t be your go-to source for energy.

What The Science Says

A study was done to see the impact of carbs on cardio endurance training. It found that up to a certain degree, some carbs were beneficial to make it past certain milestones (also commonly known by runners as “the wall”), but others were not. For instance, a carb-based drink was a good source of energy. But carb gels showed no discernible difference in performance.

Other studies have found significant benefits of protein on muscle regeneration following intense athletic events. Protein supplements are used by some, but researchers have not found any evidence to support these supplements being beneficial at all. Foods high in protein, however, has been shown to reduce soreness and injury while increasing overall muscle gains again and again.

Keeping The Carbs Low

Let’s say you fall into the low-carb camp. What good alternatives can you choose for high glucose-releasing training fuels? Here are a few of our favorite low-carb foods for cardio training. 

1) Salmon

Pretty much the perfect fish, salmon is a delicious, nutrient-heavy food that all experts agree should be a heavier part of the western diet. High in omega 3 fatty acid, it is also high in protein. That means it will give you a great energy source (fat), alongside tissue and muscle building proteins. You can buy it smoked at almost any grocery store, making it convenient, as well.

One Salmon Filet:

  • Carbs 0 g
  • Protein 29.28 g
  • Potassium 970 mg
  • Calories 261

2) Eggs

Eggs should be your go-to source for healthy eating. If you’re worried about cholesterol or calories, then reduce the yolk and stick with the egg whites. You get a great dose of protein with each egg, and they’re also great for your eyes and your brain.

One Egg:

  • Carbs 0.56 g
  • Protein 6.29 g
  • Calcium 25 mg
  • Calories 78

3) Bell Peppers

Instead of reaching for a bag of chips when you’re in need of a crunch, slice up a bell pepper instead. Paired with a low-fat dip, you’ll be satisfied with this healthy snack. Bell peppers provide tons of vitamin C, have a low carb count, and are also low calorie.

One Bell Pepper:

  • Carbs 5.42g
  • Vitamin C 95.7 mg
  • Magnesium 12 mg
  • Calories 24-50

4) Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute in many recipes for replacing sour cream, butter/oils, heavy cream, and mayonnaise. It’s a lower calorie and lower carb option. You can also find lots of options at your local grocery store that have zero added sugar. Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein.

1 Cup of Greek Yogurt:

  • Carbs 6.12 g
  • Protein 17.32 g
  • Calcium 187 mg
  • Calories 100

5) Kale

When prepared correctly, kale can be really tasty! So if you’ve had a bad experience, give it another go. Blending kale into smoothies, baking kale chips, or chopping it finely and mixing it into your favorite salad are all great ways to get the good stuff in your belly. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, with more than your daily requirement of Vitamin K1, double your Vitamin A carotenoids, more than half of your RDA of Vitamin C and plenty of magnesium, manganese, and potassium to boot.

1 Cup of Chopped Kale:

  • Carbs 1.4 g
  • Vitamin C 120 mg
  • Calcium 150 mg
  • Calories 34

Fuel Your Body With The Good Stuff

Your body is going to turn a majority of the food you consume into carbohydrates so it has the energy to burn. If you give your body more complex foods with limited carbs, it’ll work a bit harder to convert what you are eating into energy. This creates more sustained energy sources that fuel longer-term endurance. So when looking for foods for cardio training, try these five options to provide sustained fuel for your rides and runs. 



About Author

Kevin Jones is a health and fitness blogger and regular contributor to a number of fitness websites. He writes for NordicTrack. During his free time, he likes to be very active and spend time with his wife and two children shredding the slopes of Park City, Utah or chasing down the Salt Lake City Korean food trucks. Connect with him online; LinkedIn - Twitter

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