- Salmon provides long-chain omega three fatty acids that have a functional role in our brains. “It is also an excellent source of vitamin D, which is known to play a part in mood regulation and memory,” nutritionist, Dr Sarah Brewer, tells us. “Populations with the highest intakes of oily fish have the lowest levels of depression. Oily fish consumption during pregnancy may also help to reduce the risk of dyslexia and autism in offspring.”
Tuck in to a succulent salmon steak, with poached egg and baby leaf spinach to pack a protein TIP punch after a tough workout.
- Walnuts Walnuts are also a rich source of omega three and make an ideal snack for vegetarians. The tasty nuts contain alpha-linoleic acid, an essential acid that promotes flexible joints and a healthy outlook. “These nuts may also have an effect on serotonin levels to lift your mood, and improve insomnia and food cravings,” says Sarah. “Supplements providing 5-HTP have a similar effect by boosting serotonin production.”
Not a fan of walnuts? Try Happy Days 5-HTP Supplement, (£12.95 for 60 capsules, healthspan.co.uk).
- Green tea Green tea can give your metabolism a boost, and research has found that swapping your usual daily cuppa for the green variety instead can up the amount of calories your body naturally burns. “It’s a rich source of powerful antioxidants and delivers a small dose of caffeine, which improves concentration and alertness,” Sarah points out. What’s more, green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that can help relieve stress and help you to relax – perfect after a sweaty session.
If you want to inject some extra flavour, a slice of ginger, lemon or some fresh mint blend really well with green tea.
- Oats Oats are rich in complex carbohydrates and release energy slowly. Plus, they contain more protein and fibre than most other grains. “Oats are a good source of B vitamins and are traditionally used as a restorative nerve tonic to help overcome nervous exhaustion and stress,” Sarah tells us. Fuel up with a hearty bowl of porridge for breakfast, or pop a fruity flapjack in your kit bag for a post-gym snack.
Fancy something different to porridge? Keep hunger pangs at bay by munching on an oat bread sandwich.
- Eggs Eggs are packed full of B vitamins, which can improve your brain function and, in turn, keep you on an even keel. “Eggs are also rich in vitamin D and omega three fatty acids, which have positive effects on your mood too,” says Sarah. “Plus, the high protein content improves satiety, helping to reduce food cravings and snacking.” Kick-start your day with eggs for breakfast to keep you full until lunch.
Fuel up post-workout by packing a wholemeal pitta full of fluffy scrambled egg, chopped onions TIP TIP and cherry tomatoes to revive you.