Want a better workout? Find out which fitness foods can help improve your workout.

Joyce Hendley

Want to give your workout a boost? Five key ingredients can give your body an extra edge when exercising-or recovering from your workout. Here are 5 ingredients that can help power your next workout.

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1. Peanuts

The most protein-rich nut of them all gives you quality protein, which is important for muscle building.

Pre-workout: A little protein staves off hunger without overtaxing digestion.

Post-workout: Protein helps repair muscles and stokes your body's muscle-building machinery-especially when consumed within a half hour after exercising.

2. Oats

Oats are rich in carbohydrates, the fuel your muscles prefer.

Pre-workout: Fiber-rich oats supply sustained energy.

Post-workout: Provide a healthy amount of carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores.

3. Dried Blueberries

Dried blueberries are a tasty and antioxidant-rich alternative to raisins.

Pre-workout: The easily digested carbohydrates in blueberries fuel muscles, plus a little fiber provides staying power.

Post-workout: Polyphenolic compounds in blueberries may help combat oxidative stress in muscles-potentially preventing soreness, inflammation.

4. Chocolate Chips

You probably don't need a justification to snack on a few chocolate chips or add them to an energy bar, but nonetheless there actually are some health reasons to add them.

Pre-workout: Antioxidants in dark chocolate help prevent muscle soreness later on. One study of bikers showed dark chocolate helped reduce oxidative stress in muscles-a component of muscle soreness. Animal research suggests chocolate's epicatechins can boost leg strength and endurance capacity.

Post-workout: Dark chocolate provides flavonols, compounds that can help improve blood flow, which brings more oxygen to replenish your hardworking muscles.

5. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight inflammation, a factor in muscle soreness. While not as potent as fish-based omega-3s in producing these benefits, they're also (like exercise) good for your heart.

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