Healthy Eating for Better Fitness
One of the most important factors when trying to build muscle and get ripped is to eat the right foods. When I was super skiny an not working out, I ate pretty much anything I wanted. Cake, cookies, chips, soda... you name it. Due to my high metabolism I didn't gain weight, but I always felt tired and unhealthy. Of course it wasn't until I started cleaning up my diet that I realized what it was like to feel healthy and energetic.
Building muscle is highly dependent on eating the right foods to fuel your body. Over the last couple of years, I have spent a lot of time searching for the foods that would help me to build strong, lean muscle and gain weight without a lot of bulk. I have found a few key foods that I really like that provide great health benefits.
1. Chicken - OK, this one is probably pretty obvious, but it is also very important. Chicken is high in protein and low in fat. Protein is the building block of muscle and is the key to adding mass. Plus chicken can be prepared in hundreds of different ways that helps to keep it interesting.
2. Quinoa - is a seed that similar in texture to rice or grains, Quinoa is higer in fiber and protein than rice or oats and naturally gluten free. Quinoa is also high in iron and calcium and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, and copper. If you don't like Quinoa then you could substitue brown rice or whole grain pasta instead.
3. Cottage Cheese - This is another fantastic source of Protein, the building block of muscle. Cottage Cheese contains a form of protein called Casin which is slow releasing in the body. It is a perfect snack right before you go to bed because the Proteins will slowly release to your muscles all night while you sleep and recover. Just add in some berries and you have a delicious, healthy snack.
4. Broccoli - Remember when you Mom told you to eat your vegegtables? Well, there is a good reason for that. Broccoli is one of the most nutritious veggies that you can eat containing high amounts of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, folic acid, and fiber. Broccoli has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, and lower the risk for cancer.
5. Cage Free Organic Eggs - Eggs are like little nuggets of nutritional gold. They are very high in protein and essential amino acids, low in fat, and they are very nutritionally dense (meaning they have a high ratio of nutritional value to calories). I love them because they are easy and quick to prepare and I love hard boiled eggs for a snack on the go. The cage free organic variety have been shown to have a higher nutritional value and increased vitamins and minerals. Plus, I think the the cage free organic eggs just taste better than regular eggs.
6. Fish - Fish is the number 1 source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a topic that has been very hot in the fitness world. These "good fats" have been shown to have tremendous health benefits including lower cholesterol, reducing inflamation and joint pain, improving skin and hair texture, improving brain function, and easing depression. For those of us trying to build muscle, Omega-3 has been shown to increase protein synthesis - meaning it helps to turn protein into muscle. If you don't like fish, or don't have easy access to fish, then you should take an Omega-3 or Fish Oil Supplement.
7. Almonds - Loaded with essential nutrients, these nuts provide a variety of health benefits. Almonds are high in protein and a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and magnesium. Almonds also contain zinc, selenium, copper, and niacin. Almonds help in weight loss because the mono-saturated fat contained in almonds satisfies appetite and prevents over-eating. Almonds also help promote good cholestoral by increasing the level of HDL and reducing the level of LDL cholesterols.
8. Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes have a huge leg up on regular white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidents and rich in beta-carotine, vitamin C, vitamin E, anthocyanins and sporamins. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise after eating. Foods that have a low glycemic index do not cause a quick spike in blood sugar leading to a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows. In other words, foods with lower glycemic indexes make you feel full longer.
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