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Super Foods for Walking Workouts

Antioxidant-rich foods can fuel your workouts


Updated March 22, 2012

Oatmeal is a Super Food

Oatmeal is a Super Food

Wendy Bumgardner ©
Health-conscious walkers may not want to grab a highly-processed energy bar or convenience food to fuel their workout. Registered dietitian Jovana Turkovic of Studēo55 has compiled a list of readily-available super foods that are nutrient-dense and naturally packed with antioxidants. I asked her about how to use these for powering their brisk walking workouts.

Q: What super foods work best for a pre-exercise meal, such as breakfast before a morning walk or jog?

Jovana: A great option that works best as a light breakfast or small pre-exercise meal is oatmeal. The soluble fiber will help you feel full and give you energy for your walk/jog, while it is still easy to digest and won’t weigh you down.

Cook the oatmeal in milk, soymilk, or almond milk for an added protein punch and a creamier texture. Also add a cup of blueberries and some walnuts to boost the nutritional content of this yummy breakfast. Lastly, sprinkle on some cinnamon for additional flavor. You can also split your oatmeal in half and have half before your walk and the remainder as your post workout snack.

Q: What super foods are easy to pack as energy snacks for a long walk or day hike?

Jovana: Pack a homemade trail mix with walnuts or almonds, dried fruit (such as cranberries, apricots, and dates) and a whole grain cereal (Shreddies are a good option). Also, remember to drink plenty of water! LARAbars are another great option, they are made with dried fruit and nuts and contain no added sugar or artificial ingredients. They are handy to pack and come in a variety of flavors.

Q: What super foods work well for a post-exercise recovery snack or meal?

Jovana: A combination of a protein and carbohydrate ensures that you properly re-fuel after your exercise and should be consumed 30 minutes after your activity. Fruit and yogurt are great options. Sticking to our super food list, I would suggest low fat Greek yogurt and half a cup of pomegranate seeds as a recovery snack. If you are consuming a small meal, I recommend baked salmon with a side of quinoa and steamed kale.

Super Foods for Everyone
Jovana's list of super foods:

  • Quinoa: This South American grain can be used in dishes much like you would use rice, but with double the protein and fiber as most other grains. It is a good source of iron, magnesium and riboflavin. Quinoa works well both in hot side dishes and in cold salads mixed with seasonal vegetables.
  • Oats: A great source of soluble fiber. Jovana recommends buying oat flakes or steel cut oats rather than the convenience packs of instant oatmeal that add sugar, salt and flavorings. You can add your own fruit and nuts to a great, energizing morning bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal recipes
  • Salmon: Salmon has a high level of omega-3 fatty acids compared to many other fish. It's a versatile main dish protein. Recipes for fresh salmon
  • Walnuts: If you want a convenience snack, walnuts are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein and antioxidants. They are easy to add to salads, trail mix, oatmeal, or in a crust for baked salmon. Walnuts and health
  • Blueberries and Pomegranates: These are great source of antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, with potassium and vitamin C. You can use fresh or dried blueberries and pomegranate seeds in smoothies, on oatmeal, in salads, or with yogurt.
  • Kale: Don't tell Popeye, but kale beats spinach in several nutrients, including vitamins A, K and C. You can bake kale as crispy snack chips and add it to stir fries and soups. You can use kale in any dish where you might use spinach, such as in omelets and casseroles.
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms have fiber, potassium, B vitamins and selenium. Some credit these as anti-aging nutrients. They are versatile to add to many dishes, including omelets, stir fries and pasta dishes.
  • Lentils: Lentils are a quick-cooking alternative to beans, with many of the same benefits. They add protein and fiber to dishes, plus folate, manganese and iron. Palak dal - spinach (or kale) and lentils recipe
  • Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is made by straining yogurt through a cheesecloth, making it thicker and creamier and therefore increasing the protein content per cup.

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