No matter what your age or lifestyle, whether sedentary or highly active, adapting your diet to include a diverse range of nutritious foods can make a significant impact while at university, not only to physical performance but for studying too.

While vitamin supplements and tablets provide a handy boost, they are no substitute for a proper meal and it’s often the simplest foods that make the difference. In the first instalment of Concrete Fitness, Mark Palk looks at the foods you should be eating to attain your goals.

1) Blueberries

Ask any personal trainer, nutritionist or doctor and they will all tell say the same thing; blueberries are one of, if not the best fruits to include in your diet. They combine a useful mix of antioxidants, which help prevent cellular damage, and potassium, which can help lower the risk of heart disease. That, as well as being the perfect topping for pancakes after a night out, should make blueberries a popular choice for those looking to get the semester off to a healthy start.

2) Black Beans

Popular in Latin American cuisine, black beans offer a vegetarian-friendly source of protein and fibre that go well with cajun dishes or even chilli con carne. A far healthier source of protein than steak (an expensive comfort food if you can afford it) which contains saturated fats, black beans are also ideal for weight loss. Why not give them a try?

3) Spinach

If it’s good enough for Popeye, then spinach should be good enough for you. This leafy green bundle of goodness is majorly underrated in nutrition circles, which is a travesty as spinach not only contains antioxidants – just like blueberries – but is another great source of protein. Moreover, spinach is proven to help combat risk of heart disease, and with the right sauce can go well with almost any meal.

4) Avocado

For all you Mexican food lovers out there, avocados go well with tacos and fajitas. They are a proven source of vital natural nutrients such as vitamin E and essential monounsaturated fats, so there is no need to feel guilty when indulging in some hefty guacamole. They also contain a good level of protein and fibre, essential for the happy workings of the digestive system (something we all need in the first days of moving to a new country or adjusting on a vacation).

5) Salmon 

Although many detest the smell of fish, the lean meat and omega 3 contained in salmon helps our bodies maintain muscle. If you like going to the gym to gain size, salmon is a must on the shopping list. Try increasing your uptake of salmon in the evening (or post-gym). It’s a good source of protein that leaves you feeling fuller for longer, which is especially important for those who tend to snack before they go to bed late at night.

6) Yoghurt

We’ve all seen those cheesy yoghurt adverts featuring C-list celebrities delivering the corporate line. In fact though, yoghurt, as a rather simple pleasure, is actually something we should be getting more of in our diets. It contains heaps of healthy microflora and good bacteria that help our digestive systems; try adding yoghurt to oats in the morning with some fruit (why not blueberries?) and start your day right with a hearty and healthy breakfast.