If you’re trying to get in better shape, but just can’t seem to shed the pounds or build the muscle you were hoping to, maybe you need to add more than just a new workout routine into your everyday life.  There are other things to consider, like the amount of water you drink and the types of food you consume.

You might think that when it comes to your diet, the only thing you need to think about is the caloric value of each food or beverage item you put in your mouth. But did you know that there are actually certain foods and drinks that can enhance your fitness and help you shed those pounds or build that muscle tone more effectively? Check out these seven food items that will surely change your physical health for the better.

Bananas – Bananas are considered by some nutritionists to be the ideal fitness food. Not only is it delicious and easy to eat, it is filled with potassium and other essential nutrients to promote overall health. If you are feeling crazy, even try throwing the peel and all in the blender with other yummy ingredients for a fruit smoothie. The peel has been found to contain huge amounts of potassium as well as serotonin and lutein. Eat a banana just before or after a workout to help your body refuel on healthy calories.

Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are jam-packed with tons of disease-fighting elements that our bodies need, such as iron, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. It is especially helpful to consume a meal with sweet potatoes before a long workout because they help to alleviate and prevent muscle cramping and soreness.

Salmon – Salmon is the ideal fish for enhancing overall health, especially when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. It is the ideal meal for after a tough workout, especially since it contains proteins that will allow your muscles to rebuild and repair themselves. Even if you are not a seafood lover, try adding salmon to your diet here and there. It is known to be a less fishy form of seafood, so you might just love it. Dress it up with some lemon juice, dill, and salt and pepper.

Brazil Nuts – Just about every nut is considered to be a great pre or post workout snack, but brazil nuts are in a league of their own. They are the best nut for enhancing your physical fitness for several reasons, including the fact that they contain selenium. This mineral is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and protecting the body from cancer and other diseases. They are fairly high in calories and fat content, but are perfect for snacking on here and there to avoid feeling hungry throughout the day.

Milk – Many people do their best to avoid dairy when they are trying to lose weight, but milk is extremely hydrating and helps to rebuild muscle rapidly. Its good amount of calcium helps to strengthen bones and give you the energy you need to complete your workout. Athletes often choose to drink a large glass of chocolate milk after a workout, or even a fruit smoothie containing milk and yogurt.