Not everyone wants to be a competitive bodybuilder, but we all want to be as fit and healthy as possible. The normal dietary needs for an active person; one who has a regular workout regimen is approximately twenty percent of calories from protein, forty percent from complex carbohydrates (as opposed to simple carbohydrates like starch and sugars) and the balance from fats and fibers. A serious bodybuilder might up the protein to more than twenty-five percent with correspondingly less carbs.
Muscles are built by ingesting a lot of protein and exercising frequently and mightily. In order to be able to exercise, we have to have energy, thus a list of the best muscle building foods will include some complex carbohydrates and natural, unrefined sugars, such as those found in fruit.
Slower digesting carbohydrates take longer to breakdown into energy, so they don’t spike your blood sugar and increase insulin requirements. Because they slowly enter our bloodstream, these carbs produce fewer fat forming hormones and enzymes. Fast digesting carbs like refined starches and sugars will spike your blood sugar and dissipate very quickly. They will make you fat and their impact on your energy is very short-lived.
Some foods that contribute to muscle building are listed herein:
Buckwheat Noodles – Japanese soba is a common form of buckwheat noodles. These can be used as a base for a dish or tossed in a salad or with vegetables and meat as a main dish. These noodles are very low in calories and contain almost zero fat.
Lean Ground Beef – The leaner, the better. Beef has good protein, iron, zinc, creatine and B vitamins. Lean ground beef can be eaten as a meat patty or as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. Think of a good old American hamburger without the bun.
Broccoli – This great, green vegetable is loaded with cancer-fighting phytochemicals, fiber and indoles. The latter is a natural compound that works against estrogen and makes the body less liable to store body fat.
Fat-Free Cottage Cheese – Contains all the benefits of whey and casein protein powders at far less cost than these supplements. Can be easily flavored with soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic, ground ginger and fresh chives to make a tasty side dish or midday snack. Fresh fruit is also a good complement to cottage cheese, but stay away from the canned fruits in heavy syrup.
Canned Tuna or Salmon or Sardines – These oily fish are a bodybuilding staple. Loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and useable protein, canned fish are easy to store and use. They may be eaten from the can or used in salads and other recipes. Tuna mixed with chopped boiled eggs, onion, a dash of garlic powder and a touch of low-fat mayonnaise is a great lunch or afternoon snack.
Turkey Breast – Turkey breast is high in protein, low in fat and has no carbohydrates. Turkey, particularly the white meat, is just about the leanest source of protein you can buy. Old time bodybuilders ate a lot of turkey.
Oatmeal – Another slow digesting carbohydrate. Oatmeal is a good pre-training snack because it supplies energy slowly and stabilizes the blood sugar without spiking. Cooked and mixed with some protein powder or cottage cheese, it makes a fine meal or afternoon snack.
Lean Beef – A nice, lean, well-trimmed piece of steak goes good anytime. A small piece makes a great snack or a larger piece as an entree. Beefsteak provides loads of protein and essential fats. Other cuts of beef provide a great source of protein; beef roasts, smoked brisket, extra lean ground beef (chuck or round), beef ribs, short ribs and flank steak.
Pork Loin – Another low-in-fat meat that is both tender and very tasty. Pork Loin may be prepared in a variety of manners, from kabobs to chops to stir-fry. Pork back-ribs are renowned for their tenderness and flavor.
Chicken Breast – Not quite as fat-free as turkey, chicken still fills the bill as a muscle building food because it is high in protein. Skinless, it is low in fat, too. It is a very versatile meat and can be cooked in nearly any manner.
Sprouted Grain Breads – Much more easily digested than processed grain flours, sprouted grains provide slow acting carbohydrates, zero fats and some useable protein. Some of the loaves are quite tasty, too. If you just have to have a sandwich, use sprouted grain breads. Most of the supermarkets have them, but they are in the freezer department because they have no preservatives. Specialty and natural food stores also have them.
Eggs – These are very high in protein and essential fats. Once thought to be Nature’s nearly perfect food, eggs fell from favor when the low-fat-diet proponents began to assert themselves. Most nutritionists now recognize that the low-fat diet craze is partially responsible for the obesity epidemic and eggs are moving back into favor as good-for-you food. Hardboiled eggs make great mid afternoon snacks.
Included in your diet should be foods that boost your metabolism. High-fiber foods, high protein should be the mainstay of your diet, but other natural metabolism boosters include: Chilies, mustard, green tea and water.
Citrus and other fruits that are high in vitamin C will dilute the fats and help release them from your body. Limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and guava are on this list. The pectin in apples restricts the ability of the cells to absorb fat from foods. Pectin also encourages water absorption from foods, helping to release the fat deposits on the body.
Researchers have reported that the calcium in dairy products like whole milk, yogurt and cheese can act as a fat-burner by increasing the fat breakdown in your cells. Calcium supplements don’t work as well as the real thing, so get yours from nature, dairy products.
Your body needs energy to carry you through those heavy workouts, so your calories from carbohydrates, as those from protein, will have to stoke your furnace. Here is a list of foods that will boost your energy levels for the whole day (and night):
• Oatmeal – A great breakfast or midmorning snack. Oats are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index. You get a flow of energy that lasts a long time, rather than a quick spike.
• Coffee – The second most popular beverage in the USA. Caffeine is what gives it the boost. One or two cups it the recommended dosage, as more will be counter productive, often producing a mild withdrawal symptoms and fatigue.
• Lentils, Navy Beans, Chickpeas and Kidney Beans – These legumes provide good carbs and protein and are a great source of fiber. They are low in fat and calories. If your metabolism isn’t used to beans, start with a small portion to avoid flatulence.
• Water – Your body needs water to generate energy by allowing the digestion and absorption of nutrients. When you are dehydrated your cells are less efficient in processing nutrients for energy.
• Bananas – Easily digested natural sugars. Also they provide potassium that helps maintain nerve and muscle function. Other fruits also make good, energy-boosting snacks; apples, grapes, peaches and pineapples.
• Sardines – These little fish are loaded with the amino acid tyrosine. When ingested it helps your brain to manufacture chemical “uppers” that give you better brain function.
• Chocolate – The semi-sweet varieties can help boost energy with their sugars, but they also improve anemia, aid in digestion and increase sexual appetite. The latter characteristic may help keep you alert.
• Steak – You carnivores will love this. Red meat has the most readily absorbed iron, an element necessary to good cellular function. Avoid that Big Mac, however, and go for a small sirloin and a nice salad.
• Healthy Fats – from almonds, avocados, seeds and nuts. Good fats provide essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6) that will produce an alert mental state.
• Yogurt – Magnesium rich yogurt can provide an energy boost. Magnesium activates enzymes that help metabolize protein and carbohydrates. Other low-fat dairy foods are good; cheeses, cottage cheese, skim milk and kefir.