Every athlete, as well as the busy parent or student, wants more stamina. Stamina is the energy your body and mind need continue doing something over a prolonged period. The best way to improve your stamina is to exercise for longer periods over time. You can boost your endurance in the short term, however, by eating energy-boosting foods before and during your workout, sporting event or daily activities. Carbs, protein, essential fats and minerals are all required for your body and your brain to function optimally, so choosing foods with these qualities will help you gain stamina quickly.
Eat breakfast. Even if you don't feel hungry, skipping breakfast is a recipe for an energy crash later in the day. The best foods to choose in the morning are fiber-rich carbohydrates, like oats, whole-wheat bread and other types of whole-grain bread. A 1999 study published in the "International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition" compared the effects of a high-fiber, carb-based breakfast, a low-fiber carb-based breakfast and two high-fat breakfasts. The participants who consumed the high-fiber, carb-based breakfast experienced more alertness after the meal than those who consumed the other types of breakfasts.
Eat fruits for immediate energy during your workout or other activity that requires stamina. Fruits are high-carb and hydrating, and they digest quickly, giving you an instant boost. You need not only nutrients but also water to keep up your endurance. Water-dense fruits like melons and citrus fruits are more hydrating, while fruits with less water content, like bananas and dates, are more carb-rich. Use both types of fruits for stamina, or grab the carbohydrate-rich fruits and drink a bottle of water or a sports drink to hydrate your body.
Avoid simple sugars like sucrose, dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup, found in processed foods, for an energy boost. These mostly get converted to triglyceride fats rather than glucose, which is the sugar found naturally in whole foods. Refined sugars will actually weaken your stamina by giving you a "sugar crash" after a short-lived boost.
Pick out some protein-dense foods to eat along with the fruit because you won't last on carbs alone. Protein gives your muscles the energy they need to repair themselves after continual use. According to dietitian and nutritionist Heather Bauer, chia seeds are a great source of protein because they contain all 20 amino acids your body needs, and they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Choose other foods to incorporate into your diet that are rich in omega-3s. A 2010 study published in the "Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport" found that wrestlers who took an omega-3 supplement had improved lung function during and after intensive training sessions than wrestlers who didn't take an omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids affect your performance whether you're exercising or not, however. They build elastic blood vessels, greatly affecting heart health, and improve the functioning of your nervous system. One food rich in omega-3 besides chia seeds is wild salmon.
Eat foods that are mineral-dense. Minerals, some of which are also known as electrolytes, govern communication between the cells, as well as electrical impulse signaling. These bodily functions are critical to maintaining stamina. The major minerals to remember are sodium chloride, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphate, iron, copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine. Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens like kale, are a major source of minerals. Nuts and seeds are also mineral-dense, but they're high in fat and thus take longer to digest than vegetables. To quickly improve your stamina, make sure to eat plenty of mineral-rich foods.
- University of Missouri: Energy Rich Foods for Athletes
- Triathlete: 10 Essential Foods for Endurance Athletes
- New York Daily News: Superfoods for Runners: What to Eat for Endurance, Stamina and Energy
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effects of Omega-3 Supplementation on Pulmonary Function of Young Wrestlers During Intensive Training
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effects of High-Carbohydrate Vs High-Fat Breakfasts on Feelings of Fullness and Alertness, and Subsequent Food Intake