Top 10 food choices to optimize results from training

Okay, you’ve utilized AST’s free access Nutritional Calculator to obtain your tailor-made nutrition profile. This info’ will provide you with the exact amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats you need to consume each day to shed fat and build muscle as efficiently as possible.

Now that you have your macronutrient profile, you want to make sure that your eating plan is constructed from the best food choices possible. Therefore, in this article I’m going to provide you 10 foods that I believe should be part of any athlete’s diet to ensure the best results possible from training.

The science of optimum nutrition for any sport, bodybuilding or other, is to build a premium body, a perfect machine of pristine health that excels in athletic performance. One key aspect of optimum nutrition is food choice. In this regard, many bodybuilders fail to understand the importance of consuming a variety of nutritious whole foods in their diet. They restrict their choices to chicken breasts, white rice and green beans. If you are one of these people, then you are probably short-circuiting your own progress.

The foundations of optimum nutrition that enhance biological functions at the cellular level can only be achieved via the synergistic interaction from an array of nutrients. Therefore, optimum results from training can only be achieved by incorporating a wide variety of food choices. With that in mind, you may consider some of the foods on this list rather unusual. Nevertheless, each one provides a multitude of benefits. Here they are in alphabetical order.

Apples: A great source of pectin; a natural fiber that is essential to healthy regulation of blood fats and cholesterol profiles. However, this material also helps stabilize blood glucose (and insulin) levels. For bodybuilders, stable blood glucose and insulin levels are essential to maintaining the anabolic drive. That is, promoting muscle anabolism (growth) and fat loss at the same time. Apples are also a good source of natural vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. In turn, vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron and folate; two essential nutrients for optimum energy production. A few slices of apple throughout the day is a great, nutritious tasty snack that helps you reach your physique goals.

Broccoli: All vegetables should be on this list as they are packed with unique elements that are essential to optimum nutrition. However, I’ve singled out broccoli as it probably provides more benefits than most others. Besides providing the diet with a wealth of bioavailable vitamins and minerals (such as beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, folate and natural fiber), this vegetable contains a spectrum of phytonutrients. These are unique plant-derived compounds (phytochemicals and polyphenols) that scientists are only just starting to understand the powerful benefits of.

These compounds help improve insulin sensitivity of muscle, promote efficient heart function under the stress of exercise, and provide a spectrum of antioxidants that protect against excessive cellular damage caused by intense training programs. Broccoli is one food you can never get too much of.

Blueberries: If you want to live a long, disease-free life, blueberries should be a stable of your diet. Blueberries contain a rich in a spectrum of nutrients and low in calories. The potency of the antioxidants and phytonutrients contained within this fruit are much higher than others. The underlying benefit of blueberries is their research-proven effects on brain function. In particular, memory, cognition and protection against deterioration. Remember, it doesn’t matter how chiseled your physique is, unless the “grey matter” is working properly, you’re nothing but a large, hairy bag of protein soup!

Beans: All varieties (such as red, pinto, black and kidney), are an excellent low-fat source of key minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and the B-group vitamins. More than any other food, legumes provide the right fiber that is highly important to the goals of athletes such as bodybuilders. Firstly, after consumption, the fiber from beans swells in the intestine, making a person feel more satisfied from the meal (a god-send for people like bodybuilders that follow calorie-restricted diets).

Secondly, digestion and processing of these legumes burns a lot of calories. This response helps to keep the metabolism elevated and ensure fat-burning potential is at its peak. Aside from all these benefits, a diet rich in legumes is consistently shown to lower bad cholesterol and protect against heart disease. The health benefits from beans make for a great excuse to indulge in Mexican food!

Low fat, protein-rich dairy foods: A substantial amount of scientific research has accumulated over recent years that support a rather unlikely concept. The intake of dairy calcium has a profound influence on how easily an individual gains or sheds body fat. A high intake of dairy-based calcium not only protects against body fat accumulation, it enables a person to utilize (burn) more fat for energy. The best source of calcium that provides this beneficial effect on fat metabolism is low-fat, protein-rich dairy foods.

Foods such as skim milk, low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese fall into this category. However, maybe this is one reason why Ny-Tro PRO-40 has such a profound effect on body composition. For years we’ve received reports from bodybuilders all over the world that testify Ny-Tro PRO-40 is highly effective at improving the lean muscle to body fat ratio. Ny-Tro PRO-40 contains a spectrum of low fat, dairy proteins. If you’re trying to get into shape, regular servings of Ny-Tro PRO-40 will boost dairy calcium intake and ensure more efficient fat loss.

Lean red meat: To build muscle, strength and recover from tough workouts, you just can’t go past lean red meat. In the past, I’ve tried to minimize or even eliminate red meat from my diet. However, every time I go back to regular consumption (3 servings a week) of lean red meat my body loves me for it. I not only feel better, my results from training are as different as night and day. If you chose to avoid red meat, unfortunately I think you’ll be knee-capping your potential as an athlete. Without red meat in the diet, I think it’s virtually impossible to achieve optimum nutrition.

However, I live in Australia, a region that has the best quality meat in the world. If you know the right butcher, less than 10 bucks will buy you a lean, succulent rib-eye or t-bone that’s as thick as a phone book and as large as a small dinner plate. One bite would make an Archbishop kick a hole in a stain glass window! Yep, it’s that good.

Olive oil: The bioactive properties of olive oil have only been recently confirmed in research. Olive oil lowers blood pressure, improves blood cholesterol and promotes efficent fat metabolsim. These benefits are due to their phenolics; plant-based chemicals that provide powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, olive oil promotes better fat metabolism via the mitochondria in cells by helping to release energy as heat.

According to the latest research on this topic, processed olive oils don’t seem to contain the bioactive phenolics. However, virgin and extra virgin olive oils contain an abundance of these valuable compounds. So be sure the olive oil you use every day is virgin or extra virgin oil.

Salmon: I’ve listed this particular fish, however other cold water fish such as sardines and tuna are just as good. If you consume a protein-rich diet, make sure that the protein is a nutritious as possible. These fish are not only a good source of protein, they are a fair source of omega-3 fatty acids, which I believe are a key aspect of optimum nutrition for all athletes. The benefits of omega-3 are probably most pertinent to bodybuilders. These essential fats are shown to reduce inflammation, enhance fat utilization during exercise and block the major pathway of muscle breakdown. I don’t think a bodybuilder can meet their omega-3 requirements only from food, but ensuring fish is a big part of your protein intake is a good start. If possible, choose the wild varieties of these types of fish, they are less likely to contain pollutants and unwanted chemicals.

Sweet potatoes: The deep orange-yellow color of sweet potatoes tells you that they’re nutrition packed. Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C, B-6, B12 and potassium. This vegetable is delicious when baked. Its virtually fat-free and low in calories. Ditch the pale traditional spud for the power-packed sweet potato and reap the benefits.

Tomato juice: Great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has a close association with reducing fatigue. Lycopene also provides strong protection against heart disease and certain types of cancer. I don’t advocate drinking a lot of juice as it’s easy to exceed your calorie intake for getting and staying lean. However, a 200-250ml serving of tomato juice each day is the equivalent of nature’s power-packed vitamin supplement. Fresh is best but some of the tinned varieties are also very good.

Water: Technically water is not a food but it is a nutrient (that’s why it comes in at number 11). However make no mistake, for peak performance your body needs water and lots of it. Aside from ensuring hydration to promote better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, there is no doubt that drinking more water will enhance fat loss.

Results of a recent study have shown that drinking 500 milliliters of water can increase the metabolic rate by 30%! The increase occurred within 10 minutes of consumption and reached a maximum after 30 to 40 minutes. Drinking water increases thermogenesis (calories expended via heat). About 40% of the thermogenic effect originates from the body warming the water from room temperature to body temperature. Drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 100 calories. If you’re on a calorie-restricted diet, this amount will definitely add up as weeks go by to ensure better fat loss results.

So there you have it, my top 10 food choices to optimize results from bodybuilding exercise. Hopefully by now, I’ve sold you on idea of the importance of nutritious, whole foods and the powerful benefits it can have on your health. If there’s only one thing I’ve learnt from over a decade of intensive nutrition research it’s this; the more you strive for a holistic approach in your diet and incorporate a variety of nutritious whole foods into your daily eating plan, the more powerful the benefits of supplementation become.

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