Whether you’re practicing intense Power yoga or slowing it down with Hatha or Yin, a healthy diet is key to having both the energy and the focus to make it through your practice. It’s important that your diet is balanced and full of nutritious foods high in fiber, vitamins, healthy fats, and natural sugars to keep you satisfied and grounded.
Here are 10 great foods to support your yoga practice that will give you a boost without having you bouncing off your mat.
1. Dark Leafy Greens
From kale to collards, mustard greens to arugula, dark leafy greens are brimming with vitamins C, E and K, iron, fiber and calcium, and so much more. You know yoga is good for the whole body, and adding more dark greens to you diet can help to boost those benefits even more. Try them in a salad, a smoothie or sautéed as a side dish.
2. Raw Cacao
What’s better than chocolate? The superfood raw cacao. The main ingredient in chocolate, raw cacao is packed with antioxidants to fight disease, flavonoids to reduce the risk of heart disease, and magnesium to support emotional health. Yoga has been found to help people live longer, happier lives, and it looks like consuming raw cacao can help too.
Yogis need their protein for energy and concentration and the super grain quinoa is one way to get it. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, iron for healthy blood, vitamin B2 to help with energy production in cells, and magnesium for blood sugar control. It can be eaten in place of a grain like rice, or even as a breakfast instead of oatmeal. Quinoa may be around for thousands of years already, but some consider it the super grain of the future.
Porridge is high in fiber, low on the glycemic index scale and has been found to help lower cholesterol. On top of that, yogis with the Ayurvedic constitution vata can benefit even more from porridge’s warming qualities, especially when made with cinnamon or cardamom. Need another reason? It’s also easy on the digestive system and since it’s slow burning, it’s great for sustained energy.
Their bright colors are a strong indicator that berries are high in disease-fighting antioxidants, and they’re a wonderful addition to your smoothie. Since they’re also high in fiber, berries can help keep hunger at bay and keep everything moving. The natural sugar in berries will help you get through your practice without crashing like high-sugar snacks can do.
They’re often called the fountain of youth for their anti-aging benefits. Lentils also have more folate than any other plant food. They’re also loaded with iron and protein to keep you energized throughout a demanding yoga practice. Try lentils in an Indian Dhal dish full of warming spices to help keep you grounded when life becomes too much and even your practice could use a little help.
Yogis love their vegetarian diets, but anyone who follows a plant-based diet knows the on-going dilemma – where’s the protein?
We all know you can get it from grains and vegetables, but another great source is tofu. Tofu is considered a complete protein because it supplies the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on their own. For every 100g of tofu, this low-fat, low-sugar soy product provides 17.19 g of protein.
8. Nut butters
Whether you fancy peanuts or prefer almonds, nut butters are a great way to satisfy hunger, boost your energy, and keep you powered up until it’s time for Savasana. Nut butters are super high in protein and contain the good fats to keep you healthy.
And unlike their whole selves, there are so many ways to enjoy nut butters. Spread them on rice cakes or brown rice tortillas, use them as a dip for apples or bananas, or if you need a little something sweet, remove the pit from a date and fill the center with almond butter. Yum!
9. Fresh fruit
Aside from being refreshing, delicious, and constantly changing with the seasons, fresh fruits are generally high in fiber, antioxidants and more. They’re good for your health and they are a great way to satisfy hunger during the day. Thanks to their natural sugar content, fresh fruit provides a boost of energy without the crash of refined sugars. Check out your local farmer’s market and have fun with all the fruits you can find.
10. Lemon and water
Put down the coffee and start your day with warm water with lemon. In addition to kick starting your digestive system the healthy way, warm lemon water helps to alkalize the body, which helps control the development and spread of disease. If you’re a fan of Power yoga that really works the muscles, warm lemon water can also help keep the joints and muscles healthy.
What are YOUR go-to foods before and after yoga practice? Are there items you would add to this list? Feel free to share your thoughts below!