You keep on reading that nutrition is responsible for a good 50% of your results. Or is 75%? Hell, I've even heard 95%... Whatever. Let the couch warriors argue numbers, but this is certainly true: If you aren't paying attention to the foods you eat, you're severely hurting your chances of building a muscular, healthy pleasant body. Now let's go a step beyond the obvious.
Answer this: what do fat people and skinny people have in common? What does the powerlifter have in common with the competitive bodybuilder? The 18 year old newbie and the 30-year veteran?
They ALL eat. Every day. Several times per day. And if they aren't getting the results they're looking for, then I'll bet you my sad empty wallet that their diet is the root of the problem. And this is why I love to write nutrition articles: They apply to everybody and they can give your physique-building efforts that needed 100 shot of Nitrous!
So you happen to eat? Great, this article is for you then.
Some foods can have powerful, drug-like effects on human physiology, foods that not only make you healthier and potentially boost your lifespan, but also support your aesthetics and athletic goals. Foods able to make you look good and keep you looking good for years to come.
Let me introduce some of them.
A bad childhood experience made me think I hated avocados.
I sampled some guacamole and was disgustingly repulsed by the raw onions. (Still not a fan, for the records). This made me believe I didn't like the main ingredient: avocado. Huge mistake.
This buttery fruit (right, it's a fruit) is full of healthy monounsaturated fats, known to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while raising "good" HDL cholesterol. That spells lower odds of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats have also been linked to reduced risk of cancer and diabetes. Avocados are also:
Rich in beta-sitosterol, which is protective of the prostate.
Chockfull of fiber and lutein, which is good for the eyes and the skin.
Proven to lower bad cholesterol by a significant amount in as little as one week in people with hypercholesterolemia.
For our folkloristic column: this fruit's name is derived from an Aztec word meaning testicle. Now you know in case it ever comes up on a quiz show. What would you be without me, huh?
Start tossing your plant testicles in with your breakfast eggs, use them in salads, or smear them on burgers instead of mayo ( or stirred WITH mayo, delightful ).
Another adverse, traumatizing childhood experience. Once again, wrong first impression.
One day I toddled into my grandmother's kitchen and got a noseful of boiling cabbage. As a result, I didn't get near the shit again for almost 20 years.
My loss. It turns out that cabbage can taste great raw or in Asian dishes (as any bad smell is actually caused by overcooking it) and it's a bona fide superfood. I'd venture to say it's possibly the most overall important vegetable from the point of view of nutritional benefits and cancer-fighting ability.
Cabbage contains loads of disease-preventing phytochemicals like indoles and sulforaphane. It can help fight breast cancer, prostate cancer, and the ubiquitous environmental toxins. It's loaded with fiber and has practically no calories, making it a perfect "volumized diet" food to help keep you full. Contains powerful antioxidants to help prevent heart disease. Has anti-inflammatory effects.
Another tasty way to eat more cabbage is to use it as a salad alternative. Sauerkraut is another very healthy option.
Also look into kimchi, a Korean dish made of fermented cabbage and other veggies that's been named one of the five healthiest foods in existence!
Kimchi contain lots of Chinese cabbage and you also get the health benefits of fermentation, making this a powerful natural probiotic comparable to Kefir. Look for it in the international section of major grocery store chains.
Last, kale, which is a type of cabbage, is sort of a "super-spinach." Although most seems to think spinach is the top dog among leafy greens, kale actually beats it on the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scale. In fact, kale is the highest ranking veggie when it comes to ORAC values.
So tell your granny (or tranny, I'm not one to judge) to stop boiling the cabbage.
3) VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
This oil, mostly composed of saturated fat, comes from pressed fresh coconuts meat. Yes, I said "saturated fat." And no, there's no need to go bananas and panic! This plant-based saturated fat isn't exactly the same stuff found in fast food and chemical-laden red meats. In fact, it's quite good for you since it's a natural saturated fat consisting of medium-chain triglycerides (also known as MCTs).
Coconut oil got a bad reputation a few decades ago after some really crappy animal studies concluded it wasn't healthy. The dingdongs in white lab coats used hydrogenated coconut oil that was purposefully altered to make it devoid of any essential fatty acids. Genius move, guys. Luckily, things have changed for coconut oil. The newest studies show it's quite healthful.
Coconit oil supports immune system, improves insulin sensitivity, acts as a healthful antibiotic, promotes gut health and has substantial antioxidant power.
Also helps stimulate the metabolism by promoting thermogenesis.
One of the best things about coconut oil is that you can cook with it without ruining any of its healthful properties. You can use it for everything from stir-frys to eggs and pancakes. Tastes great too!
You're on a bulk plan and think you have to eat junk food to take in enough calories? You don't. Spoon some sweet coconut oil into your shakes for a healthful "weight gainer."
You can easily find coconut oil pretty much anywhere nowadays. Just look for an unrefined, virgin, or organic product.
Quinoa is a high-protein content seed that provides all nine essential amino acids, which is pretty uncommon in the vegetable world. That's probably why it was so valued among the Incas who called it "the mother of all grains" although it's not actually a grain.
Since quinoa is a seed, it's safe to eat even for those with grain allergies. It has loads of fiber and a low glycemic index, so if you're terrified of carbs, then quinoa can still be on your plate. For centuries people in South America have been eating Chenopodium quinoa seeds like other parts of the world eat wheat.
These years quinoa is making a comeback.
When cooking it, you can think of it as a replacement for oatmeal or rice.
A less known fact is that quinoa contains lots of ecdysteroids. If you've been in this game long enough, you know these "plant steroids" have been largely advertised as an AAS alternative. While we're far from that, they still offer some extremely interesting benefits.
After extrapolating to humans the results of animal studies, in which ecdysteroids have positive effects on the skin, bone and muscle mass and break down fat, and going by the quantities of ecdysteroids found in quinoa analyses, the researchers suggest that people who eat quinoa regularly will be healthier as a result.
5) Omega-3 fortified Eggs
A wise friend of mine says only dorks dump the yolks. Okay it's actually me...
Thankfully, the eggs-are-evil days are almost over!
Where'd that damn myth come from anyway? Well, early studies on eggs didn't differentiate between the types of cholesterol. So yes, eggs raised cholesterol and were deemed "bad" but it was the desiderable kind of cholesterol – HDL.
Hey, what do you expect from a study done by the makers of breakfast cereal, the direct competition of eggs! Many subsequent studies concluded that eggs were "not associated with high serum cholesterol concentrations."
Hello, Mr Kellogg.
I've never been concerned about the health impact of regular whole eggs, but I do prefer the omega-3 enriched variety. All you do is feed hens a vegetable diet with lots of flax seed, and they lay eggs with three times the omega-3 as regular ones. Now mind you, it's not that much, and it won't replace your nicely sized serving of salmon, but every little bit helps. Also it's comforting to know that the layer of your eggs is being fed flax instead of "rendered cattle matter" like the diet of a regular factory hen. I don't even wanna think about what that shit is.
Ω-3 eggs can be found at most grocery chains with no effort.
6) GREEK YOGURT
Think of Greek yogurt as a real man's yogurt. Since it's strained, Greek yogurt contains up to three times the protein as foo-foo regular yogurt, while at the same time containing fewer carbs and almost zero lactose. Its live and active probiotic culture content is also much higher than that of regular yogurt.
The straining process not only makes it creamy and rich, it also produces a yogurt that stands up better to heat, so you can cook with it as well as toss it into protein shakes or eat in plain. One of my favorite uses for it is to toss a couple tablespoons into low-fat ground meats like turkey or venison for added moisture.
Its good bacteria can colonize your gut and help immensely with digestion and nutrients assimilation, not to mention the positive effect on your immune function and general well being, from mood to sleep.
Its protein (casein) is also a marvellous anticatabolic.
Greek yogurt with a few drops of sweetener and some blueberries is an amazing pre-bed treat loaded with high quality essential amino acids.
Definitely a staple food for smart bodybuilders.
I'm not going to lie. Once I used to consider legumes plain garbage simply because their protein biological value isn't on par with sources like beef or fish.
I was wrong.
Beans are a great asset, containing soluble fiber, lots of B-vitamins, a good dose of amino acids, and a big whack of anthocyanins, known for their powerful antioxidant capacity. Anyone should throw a cup or two of legumes on his plate a couple days per week.
People who eat beans (this includes peas, lentils and chickpeas, not so much soy) regularly typically have lower rates of heart disease and certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer, something we dudes over 40 need to start thinking about sooner than later. They also lower low grade systemic inflammation, truly nasty stuff you should not overlook.
Are you now thinking beans are a pain to make because of all the pre-soaking and such? Relax, canned legumes are just fine. Even the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests you always keep canned beans in your pantry for quick additions to meals. Excellent habit indeed.
You may find some legumes troublesome to digest at first if you're not used to their consumption. Build up your tolerance slowly, just start with frequent small servings, daily.
It is noteworthy that the USDA recently tripled its previous intake recommendations for beans. They now recommend three cups each week, which probably means that double that amount would be better given how behind the nutritional times these organizations always seem to be, to put it gently.
A longer life, a BETTER life, a sexier body. And all you're required to do is chewing some good tasting foods.
Great deal if you ask me.