Your favorite winter veggie may not be as easy to grab on the go as, say, a banana, but it's still a great way to fend off those cramps. Potassium-packed squash can also help keep your endurance up by improving your cardiovascular health; research published in Nutrition Journal reveals that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including squash, can lower your risk of heart disease. And for more ways to improve your cardiovascular health, enjoy these 42 Foods for a Healthier Heart.
- White Beans
Indulging in a little vegetarian protein before your run could keep you from cramping up. The high protein and fiber content in beans make them a great alternative to preservative-laden protein bars, and research indicates that they may have a preventative effect against diabetes, as well.
- Sweet Potato
Want to avoid exercise cramps? Enjoy a bit of sweet potato, whether you're adding some baked, olive oil-brushed cubes to your eggs in the morning or tossing some in with your favorite Zero Belly smoothie recipe. Sweet potatoes infuse your food with cramp-busting potassium, as well as weight loss-promoting beta-carotene, and plenty of healthy fiber. And for more reasons to add orange veggies to your meals, find out how to Lose Your Belly With These Sources of Beta-Carotene.
While definitely not a great on-the-go food (unless you want a whole subway car to yourself, in which case, have at it), enjoying some halibut for dinner before an evening run could help keep you going strong at the very last mile. Potassium-rich halibut is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and a good way to reduce your diabetes risk, according to research published in Diabetes Care.
Cantaloupe may be light in calories, but its high water and potassium contents can help keep cramps at bay. For those who aren't keen on having a big breakfast before working out, cantaloupe is light enough to keep you feeling spry but filling enough to fend off hunger pangs. And for more ways to start your day off right, enjoy The Best Breakfasts for All-Day Energy.
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, may not be popular among more bloat-prone individuals, but if potassium-packed broccoli sits fine with your stomach, go ahead and enjoy some—it might just be the difference between a long, productive workout and one that's cut short by cramps. That's far from broccoli's only benefit for avid exercisers, however: research published in Hypertension reveals that broccoli can also help lower blood pressure.
The many permutations of pork in the 1950s and 1960s, including whipped meat concoctions and meat-in-gelatin nightmare foods, have given pork a bad reputation that's been pretty hard to shake. However, for protein-lovers who need a snack that will help fuel them through their workout, potassium-rich pork is a good choice, provided it's prepared without extra fat or sugary condiments. If you have leftover meat from a previous night's pork chops, cube it and add it to some veggies as the filler for an omelet in the morning.
Getting enough protein to keep your muscles in fighting shape can be a challenge for those of us who aren't particularly fond of meat. Fortunately, lentils provide the energy and protein you need to log some extra time on your run or some extra reps at the gym, as well as plenty of potassium to keep cramps at bay. If that's not incentive enough to add some lentils to your plate, the research that suggests they can help fight prostate cancer just might be.
Has anyone in the world ever eaten a single pistachio? These addictive nuts are chock-full of cramp-fighting potassium, healthy fat, and all the fiber you need to keep your belly looking lean and bloat-free. And for more incentive to enjoy a handful of pistachios, discover these 40 Ways Nuts Fight Fat.
The grape's more portable counterpart, raisins are among the best fruits for your health. Most raisins are unsweetened and the purple ones are an excellent source of potassium as well as resveratrol, the latter of which has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity in animal trials.
The fish that made Jessica Simpson a bona fide star should earn its own starring role in your diet. One of the cheapest, easiest-to-prepare, and healthiest seafoods out there, tuna is an omega-3 and potassium-rich way to power up before a workout and tell cramps to take a hike. And for more ways to load your diet with omega-3s, discover these 45 Sources of Omega-3s.
One of the most palatable proteins out there is also a major cramp-fighter, thanks to its high potassium content. Luckily, from burgers to buffalo chicken salad, there are so many easy and delicious ways to prepare this tasty bird, which studies have also found to be a potent weapon in the fight against hypertension.
All hail, the mighty banana! Portable, tasty, and great in everything from smoothies to baked goods, it's easy to see why bananas are undoubtedly the world's most popular potassium-rich food. If you've been slogging through cramp-filled workouts, try replacing your usual breakfast with a protein-packed Zero Belly Peanut Butter Cup smoothie.
Kill cramps and crush your hunger by adding some salmon to your favorite salad tonight. Omega-3-rich salmon is widely reported to be an effective tool for preventing a variety of cancers, and it may have a similar effect on pain. A Pittsburgh-based study of patients suffering from neck and back pain reported that their conditions were significantly improved after they began supplementation with fish oil. And for more ways to improve your diet, discover these 8 Surprising Omega-3 Foods.
The myriad health benefits of citrus, including the prevention of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, make oranges a great anytime snack. However, their true moment to shine is either pre- or post-workout, when you could use a bit of hydration, a boost of energizing antioxidants, and some cramp-preventing potassium. In fact, just one small orange packs 174 milligrams of the stuff.
Making yourself a mushroom omelet in the morning could be the key to a more successful workout later in the day. Mushrooms, particularly portobellos, are full of weight loss-boosting phosphorus, as well as packing plenty of cramp-killing potassium, and they're an easy way to add some healthy vegetarian protein to your meals. And for more ways to boost your protein intake without meat, discover these 45 Vegetarian Protein Sources You Should Be Eating.
The world's most convenient cramp-fighters are some of the tastiest, too. Apricots, whether dried or fresh, are highly portable (and, as such, workout-friendly) sources of potassium, beta-carotene, and fiber, and can help you get healthier with every bite. Better yet, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating carotenoid-rich fruit like apricots can even help reduce your body's cholesterol absorption.
Good news, coconut water fans! Unlike many highly sweetened, preservative-packed energy and sports drinks, potassium-rich coconut water can help you rehydrate healthily while fending off cramps in the process. Just make sure you read the label before you buy—many brands add unnecessary sugar to their formula. And for more ways to sip your way slim, turn to these 40 Drinks That Fight Fat!
Unless you can find a way to bread it and deep-fry it (and no, that's not a challenge), there's pretty much no wrong way to eat spinach. Tasty as the base of a salad or added to your favorite smoothie, spinach is a great way to enjoy a cramp-free workout while reducing your risk of coronary artery disease, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Blackberries are the unsung heroes of the fruit world. They're low in calories, loaded with fiber, packed with potassium, and full of energizing, disease-fighting antioxidants. Enjoying just a half-cup of blackberries in the Back in Black smoothie, and you can enjoy a cramp-free workout later. And for more sweet snacks that won't damage your waistline, turn to the 25 Best Fruits for a Flatter Belly.