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Fitness Food Must Have's...what you need to know about these lean body foods.

Posted May 03 2013 10:21am


1. Eggs

Benefits: Muscle Building, Disease Fighting

The sunny side of eggs is that they have an exceptionally high protein biological value. In laymen’s terms, the biological value is a measure of how easily and quickly the amino acids in a food can be used for protein synthesis within the body. The upshot is that cracking a daily egg or two can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is the ticket to a brag-worthy physique. What’s more, Canadian researchers recently discovered the mighty egg contains potent antioxidant properties, which aids muscle recovery and fends off chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Nutritional Data1 whole large egg: 71 calories; 6 grams of protein; 0 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fat; 1.5 grams saturated fat

FactAccording to Nutrition & Food Science, eating an egg a day reduces degeneration of skeletal muscle and safeguards against many of the risks of aging.

2. Grass-Fed Beef

Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning

Indeed, the grass is greener on the other side. A recent investigation by California researchers in Nutrition Journal reported that beef raised on a pasture-based diet has higher levels of fat-burning omega-3 fats than their counterparts stuffed on corn. (Omega-3s also maintain the flexibility of arteries, allowing them to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to working muscles.) Additionally, researchers found the grass-fed beef has a higher concentration of conjugated-linoleic acid (CLA), which may increase fat-oxidation during a workout. Like other red meats, grass-fed beef is a dietary source of creatine, a compound lauded for helping boost strength in the gym, and thus paving the way for muscle growth.

Because grass-fed beef is leaner than the grain-fed variety, its cooking time is shorter. To ensure the best cooked grass-fed beef possible, first bring it to room temperature before throwing it on the grill.

Nutritional Data6 ounces lean strip steak: 198 calories; 36 grams protein; 0 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fat; 1.5 grams saturated fat.

FactWith only five grams of fat per six-ounce serving, extra-lean ground beef serves up more than
one-third of your daily iron, zinc, and selenium requirements.

3. Skim Milk


Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning

It’s always a good idea to stock your fridge with plenty of milk. A 2011 Journal of Nutrition study determined that higher intakes of dairy can stimulate fat loss while bolstering lean body mass gain. Milk’s high-quality protein and calcium are likely what produced these results. For a better fat-to-protein ratio, select reduced-fat (2%) or skim versions.

Nutritional Data1 cup reduced-fat milk: 122 calories; 8 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat

FactIn addition to providing 38% of your daily value of calcium and 15% of your DV of potassium per cup, low-fat milk helps control your blood pressure.

4. Greek Yogurt

Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning

Compared to traditional yogurts, this great white contains twice as much muscle-friendly protein — and fewer carbohydrates for those who are watching their carb intake. Like other dairy products, it’s a stellar source of calcium, which may aid in fat loss. It’s also packed with probiotics, those helpful critters that improve digestive health. To avoid sugar shock, opt for unsweetened versions.

Nutritional Data6 ounces non-fat plain: 90 calories; 15 grams protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat

FactUnlike some traditional American yogurts, Greek yogurt doesn’t require pectin or other thickening agents to give it a less watery consistency. When Greek yogurt has the whey strained out, the end result is a thicker, creamier yogurt with a higher protein content and less lactose than its American cousin.


5. Smoked Salmon

Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning, Disease Fighting

Because it’s ready to eat, smoked salmon is a near-perfect addition to salads, scrambled eggs and sandwiches, and it’s a surefire way to reel in a boatload of supercharged omega-3 fatty acids. As the name implies, salmon slices are brine-soaked and then cured by a smoking process, which helps retain its refrigerator shelf life. Researchers from Gettysburg College (Pennsylvania) discovered that subjects consuming high amounts of fish for six weeks shed bodyfat while simultaneously packing on muscle. The omegas in salmon have also proven to help diminish the risk for coronary woes while fish protein can help instigate muscle growth in response to training. A four-ounce serving of salmon provides 90% of your daily requirements of omega-3; this fatty acid promotes blood flow, which is optimal for training and recovery.

Omega-3 fatty acids in fish-oil supplement form have been shown to reduce mental fatigue while speeding up reaction times, particularly in those 18–35 years old.

Nutritional Data3 ounces: 99 calories; 16 grams protein; 0 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fat

FactA three-ounce portion of smoked salmon delivers more than 100% of your RDA of vitamin B12, which is crucial for the healthy functioning of your brain and nervous system (think improved contractions and sport reaction times). It also plays a role in the formation of blood and energy production.

6. Edamame

Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning, Energy Boosting

If you only nosh on these green soybeans at sushi joints, then you’re missing out. Their nutritionally charged résumé includes a payload of fat-torching fiber, plus energy-boosting iron and protein. According to findings published in Clinical Nutrition, soy protein is as effective as cow-derived casein protein at stimulating muscle protein metabolism.

Nutritional Data1 cup shelled: 130 calories; 12 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 0 grams saturated fat

FactThe protein found in edamame is complete, containing all essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth, adaption and post-workout recovery.

7. Turkey Breast

Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning

Consider feasting on this bird anytime, not just during the holidays. Few foods contain more leucine — the unparalleled rock star of muscle-building amino acids. It appears that this essential amino acid switches on the machinery that leads to revved up muscle protein synthesis, which sets the stage for additional muscle growth. Don’t forget that more muscle translates into a higher metabolism and additional fat burning. Plus, who can argue with its stellar protein-to-fat ratio?

Nutritional Data6 ounces (skinless): 186 calories; 42 grams protein; 0 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fat; 0.3 grams saturated fat (essentially zero)

FactAccording to research, turkey meat helps your body manage insulin levels following meals.

8. Kiwi

Benefits: Muscle Building, Fat Burning

In addition to containing more potassium than a banana, this fuzzy fruit actually contains more vitamin C than an orange. Other than acting as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is involved in the production of carnitine, a compound required for proper fat burning. Arizona State University scientists determined that subjects with low vitamin C levels had reduced fat oxidation during exercise. Slice into a kiwi at breakfast and let its natural sugars raise your blood sugar, pepping your energy levels after an overnight fast.

Nutritional Data1 kiwi: 56 calories; 1 gram protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams fat

FactKiwi contains the known vasodilator, the amino acid arginine. Thus it may help with ED management and oxygen delivery to working muscle tissue. A win-win.

9. Raspberries
Benefits: Disease Fighting, Fat Burning

It should be duly noted that among fruits, sweet-tart raspberries are a fiber powerhouse. A mere cup provides 8 grams — about 20% of a guy’s daily quota. On top of keeping you more regular than Norm from “Cheers”, studies suggest those who consume a high-fiber diet are less likely to have a Buddha-belly. One reason is because fiber holds water and tends to fill you up, tricking your stomach into thinking you’ve eaten more than you actually have. The fiber also reduces the amount of fat absorbed by the digestive system. Finally, raspberries also deliver a payload of disease-thwarting antioxidants, so consider adding them to protein shakes, oatmeal and yogurt.

Nutritional Data1 cup: 64 calories; 1 gram protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams fiber; 1 gram fat;
0 grams saturated fat

FactOne cup of raspberries delivers 41% of your DV of manganese. Because it functions as a co-enzyme, manganese aids bone and soft-tissue formation, efficient metabolism of fat and carbohydrates and thyroid and sex hormone function.

10. Spinach
                                                                                      
Benefits: Disease Fighting, Energy Boosting

The gravel-voiced sailorman was right: for mega-sized forearms and other muscle tissue, you may want to load your salads and sandwiches with this green giant. Swedish researchers discovered that nitrate (such as that found in spinach and other dark leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard) can help muscles work more efficiently during exercise — meaning you may get a little more oomph on the bench or in the squat rack. Plus nutritionists laud leafy greens for their encyclopedic vitamin, mineral and antioxidant profile.

Spinach boosts the production of the red blood cells, which allow more oxygen to be delivered to cells and muscles, especially during more intense activities like beach volleyball or frisbee.

Nutritional Data1 cup: 7 calories; 1 gram protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 grams fat

FactSpinach is high in inorganic nitrate, which, according to a study in Cell Metabolism, can increase your oxygen-usage efficiency — translating to longer sets, longer runs, and more sports endurance.

11. Ricotta Cheese


Benefits: Muscle Building

A fixture in lasagna, ricotta cheese is made from the whey that’s drained when making mozzarella, provolone, and other cheeses. No other cheese contains more of this protein. A Journal of Applied Physiology study found that whey protein can flood the blood with essential amino acids and stimulate muscle protein synthesis. To save fat calories, look for light versions. Blend it into your post-training shakes or mix with raspberries for a muscle-building snack.

Nutritional Data1/2 cup part-skim: 170 calories; 14 grams protein; 6 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat

FactYou get 33% of your RDA of phosphorous in a half-cup serving of part skim ricotta cheese. Without adequate phosphorous, your body won’t readily absorb calcium. Additionally, the
mineral aids in nerve transmission, and it’s essential for energy creation.

12. Sprouted Bread

Benefits: Energy Boosting

Any way you slice it, bread made with sprouted grains is a step up from the doughy options in the bread aisle. Sprouting not only amplifies vitamin and mineral levels and makes it quite bioavailable, it also lowers the glycemic index — equalling a lower spike in blood sugar, which results in more sustained energy levels and less risk of fat storage. What’s more, many types of sprouted bread incorporate healthy legumes, nuts and seeds for higher protein levels. Sprouted bread is more perishable than brands pumped full of preservatives, so keep it in your fridge for optimal freshness.

Nutritional DataSlice of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread: 80 calories; 5 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 grams saturated fat

FactThe slowest absorbing sugar in the body is maltose, and the sprouting process during the making of grain breads creates this low-glycemic index carbohydrate.


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