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7 Foods That Make Your Workout More Effective

You log hours at the gym each week in the hope of achieving the body of your dreams.

It's a logical, healthy plan—if you stick to your fitness routine and make smart diet decisions, you're bound to reach your weight loss goals eventually. But if you're anything like me, you don't want to wait months to start seeing your abs. You want results now. Good news: there are a number of foods that will make your workouts more effective and help you get the body you've always wanted, in record time—before you even head to barre class. Hit the grocery store, pick up the foods below and start slimming down today!

Dairy Products

dairy products

Remember Hugh Jackman's 'Got Milk' campaign? Odds are good that his buff bod really was built by milk—or at least a fair share of dairy. How can we be so certain? A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that diets high in protein and dairy have favorable effects on exercise-induced weight loss. Research participants who ate six servings of dairy daily lost more weight and maintained significantly more of their lean muscle than their counterparts who consumed less, though both groups followed the same fitness regime. Although six servings may seem like a lot, you can easily get there by adding milk to your oatmeal and coffee, enjoying a Greek yogurt as a snack, or adding cheese to salads, sandwiches and omelets. Looking for a quick and easy pick? Stock up on these 9 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss.



They may be small, but pistachios are mighty fat-fryers that can make your workouts all the more effective. In a recent study, researchers divided participants into two groups. Both groups followed nearly-identical diet and exercise regimens, however, one of the groups was fed unsalted pistachios, while the other group was not. Surprisingly enough, the pistachio group lost more belly chub and showed better improvements in their blood glucose and cholesterol levels than the control group. Start munching now to get the benefits of one of the 7 Best Foods for Rapid Weight Loss.


pumpkin soup

If sticking to a regular exercise regimen leaves you too sore to get off the couch for anything else, you're seriously slowing the rate of your weight loss. To ward off the post-exercise fatigue and soreness that typically leave you couch-bound, simply add some pumpkin to your plate. After running a series of animal tests, Taiwanese researchers concluded that eating the squash helps fight off the post-pump production of lactic acid—the compound that's responsible for making your muscles ache. Not sure how to add pumpkin to your diet outside the holiday season? Toss slices with olive oil and seasonings before roasting it in the oven. After it's cooked through, you can enjoy it solo as a side dish or snack, or even add it to a salad.


watermelon slices

Groceries can be expensive, so any food that can serve as both a pre- and post-workout snack is a money-saving superfood–and watermelon fits the bill! Adequately hydrating before your workout is one of easiest ways to boost your stamina and subsequent calorie burn. Sure you can load up on agua throughout the day, but you can also get some H2O through watermelon, which is 90 percent water. After your workout is through, blend some of the melon with ice. In a study of Spanish athletes, researchers found that watermelon juice can help diminish post-workout muscle soreness. Ditch the soreness and you'll be back to the gym in no time. There's no better way to lose weight and get fit—fast.

Whole Eggs

whole eggs

If you hit the gym religiously but still don't have that hard-bodied look you crave, simply adding some eggs to your diet may be the answer to your prayers. In a recent study of athletes who completed similar daily workouts, researchers found that those supplementing with choline—a nutrient found in egg yolks—lost more body fat than the athletes not popping the pills. Prep a dozen hard-boiled eggs on Sunday for a week's worth of portable, protein-rich snacks that will whittle your waist.

Green Tea

green tea and weight loss

While tea isn't a food per say, we think you'll want to get your hands on some when you hear about the benefits. According to scientists, sipping the brew can help you slim down and lean out more quickly than exercise alone. After conducting a 12-week study, researchers found that exercisers who logged 25-minutes at the gym and sipped four to five cups of green tea daily lost more weight and belly fat than their non-tea-drinking counterparts. So what are you waiting for? Start sipping the green brew to help burn that stubborn chub clinging to your middle. Bored with green? Mix up your slimming sip with any of these 4 Teas That Melt Fat.


fresh basil leaves

Your buddy invited you to his CrossFit gym for a workout, and now you can't sit down without suffering from excruciating pain. You may be eager to hit the weights again, but we both know that's just not going to happen right now. Sure, you could pop a pill to fight the inflammation and get back in the game, but adding some basil to your next meal is a more natural approach that may also do the trick. The leafy green herb contains an enzyme called eugenol that may help suppress lipid mediators that cause inflammatory responses in the body. Add the fresh or dried spice to pasta, pizza, meat, and vegetable dishes to reap the benefits.


Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh