The Super Foods
When talking eating, most nutrition experts talk in terms of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This habit has trickled down to non-nutrition experts as well. This is unfortunate because one important lesson we try to teach all of our clients is this – we don’t eat calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats!
So then, what do we eat? Although we sometimes get wrapped up in the technical terms, we usually forget the fact that we still eat plain ol’ food. Why make this point? Well, one problem associated with the calorie and macronutrient focus so popular in the media today, is that a big disconnect between knowledge and practice easily develops.
For instance, it’s all fine and good to know you should be eating a diet that’s 30% fat. But what good is that information if you don’t even know how much fat is in your current diet? How useful is that percentage if you couldn’t even calculate how much fat is in your current diet if you wanted to? That’s right, we’ve seen too many athletes (non-athletes too) speak pseudo- knowledgably about proteins, carbs, and fats only to completely miss the boat when it comes to actually eating the macronutrients they know they’re supposed to be eating. It’s important to know both which macronutrients are important and which foods contain these macronutrients.
Using the 10 habits discussed in the last chapter as a guide, presented below is a food list for each category of habit. This list will help you better categorize which foods should be eaten and when.
Lean, Complete Proteins (Eat with each feeding opportunity)
Lean meats (ground beef, chicken, turkey, etc.); fish (salmon, tuna, etc.); eggs (egg whites); low fat dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt); milk protein supplements (whey, casein, milk protein blends).
Simple Sugars (Eat only during and after exercise, if at all)
Soda, fruit juice, table sugar, sports drinks, breakfast cereal (some varieties), etc.
Starchy Carbohydrates (Eat mostly after exercise)
Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, oats, cereal grains (wheat, rye, etc), etc.
Fruits and Vegetables (Eat with each feeding)
Spinach, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, oranges, avocados, berries, etc.
Saturated Fats (About 1/3 of total fat intake)
Animal fats (fat in eggs, dairy, meats, butter, etc.), coconut oil, palm oil, etc.
Monounsaturated Fats (About 1/3 of total fat intake)
Olive oil, nuts, avocado, etc.
Polyunsaturated Fats (About 1/3 of total fat intake)
Vegetable fats, flax seeds/oil, fish oil, etc.
The 20 Superfoods
When some people think of eating well, they often use words like “watching what I eat.” The idea of “watching what you eat” however, has become synonymous with eliminating foods from your diet. If you want to achieve the optimal intersection of health, body composition, and performance, this is a mistake. The best nutrition programs offer additions, not subtractions. In other words, they teach you which foods you should be eating more of. Spend most of your feedings eating from the “good foods” list and you won’t have much time for those on the “bad foods” list.
To give you a head start, listed below are 20 great foods you should absolutely include in your daily plan. These foods fit nicely into the 10 Habits above.
- Lean Red Meat (93% lean, top round, sirloin)
- Omega 3 Eggs
- Lowfat, plain yogurt (lactose-free if you can find it)
- Supplemental Protein (milk protein isolates, whey protein isolates, or
rice protein isolates)
- Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower)
- Mixed Berries (a variety of different types of berries including
strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc)
- Mixed Beans (a variety of different types of beans including kidney, navy, white, etc)
- Quinoa (Ancient grains)
- Whole Oats (large flake)
- Mixed Nuts (a variety of different types of nuts including pecans,
walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, etc)
- Olive Oil (extra virgin)
- Fish Oil (salmon, anchovy, menhaden)
- Flax Seeds (ground)
- Green Tea
- Liquid Exercise Drinks (quickly digested carbohydrate and protein)
If you’re curious as to why these foods are so super, check out the list below.
Lean Red Meat (93% lean, top round, sirloin)
In addition to being a great metabolism boosting protein source, red meat is full of B-vitamins, the most absorbable iron, CLA (a fat-burning fatty acid), and creatine (for muscle building).
Salmon offers the dynamic duo of fat burning – protein and fish oil. At this point, you should know all too well that protein does a great job of revving the metabolism. But what you might not know is what fish oil can do for you. According to numerous research studies, the right amount of the kind of omega 3 fats found in fish oil can boost metabolism by a whopping 400 calories each day. It does this while fighting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Better eat your fish.
Omega 3 Eggs
Omega 3 eggs pack a similar one-two, protein, omega 3 punch. Protein plus the heart-healthy, disease fighting, metabolism boosting omega 3 fats is a hard combo to beat. Don’t fear the yolk, that’s where the omega 3s are.
Low-fat Plain Yogurt (lactose-free if you can find it)
Yogurt is a smooth and creamy way to boost the protein and calcium content of your diet. You already are wise to the benefits of protein. Eat yogurt and you also get some great calcium. Research from the University of Tennessee shows that increased calcium intake speeds the metabolism and promotes fat loss. That’s right, calcium is not just for bones and teeth.
Supplemental Protein (milk protein isolates, whey protein isolates, or rice protein isolates)
Supplemental protein powder powers up your metabolism in a quick, easy, and convenient way. Can’t get a feeding? No problem. Whip up a shake and get the muscle building, metabolism boosting power of protein without having to cook food. For an extra calcium and antioxidant boost throw in some yogurt and berries.
Spinach ranks top of the veggie list because of its strong base content. A spinach salad or some cooked spinach can neutralize nearly any dietary acid-forming food and that’s good for the bones and the muscles. Spinach has also got fiber to improve gastrointestinal health and promote fat loss. It’s also got folic acid for reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and memory loss with aging. Popeye was right; you’d better eats your spinach!
In addition to being good tasting, full of fiber and vitamin C, cooked tomatoes (even those in tomato sauce) are rich in lycopene. Increase your lycopene intake and enjoy a 50% reduction in heart disease risk and risk of prostate cancer.
Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower)
These veggies contain a special class of nutrients called indoles that have been found to protect against a variety of cancers, balance hormonal status, and offer antioxidant benefits. When mother nature made these veggies, she also added in some fiber for good measure. Next time you sit down to a feeding; put aside your salad in favor of a vegetable medley.
Avocados are actually fruits, not vegetables. Surprised? Well how about this, avocados are probably the healthiest fruits on the block. Avocados contain a heaping portion of B-vitamins, fiber, folic acid, and zinc (among other nutrients). And of course, let’s not forget the monounsaturated fats in avocados. These are the same healthy fats we find in olive oil. While it should be obvious these are darn good for you, here’s a hot tip. The zinc thing is big for men, since zinc status is related to testosterone production.
Mixed Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, etc.)
Berries are one of the best antioxidant foods around. In fact, they rank highest in their ability to soak up those nasty, cell-damaging oxygen free radicals. If you want to reduce the signs and symptoms of aging, berries are one of your best choices.
Oranges are best known for what? Their vitamin C content, of course. But they also happen to be great sources of fiber as well as folic acid. An orange a day may keep the doctor away.
Quinoa (Ancient Grains)
The nutritive properties of quinoa have given it the title of super grain. Even back as far as the Incan empire, Inca warriors fed themselves quinoa to make them strong for work and battle. This is due to the fact that quinoa is rich in a variety of energy-producing vitamins and minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and B-vitamins. In addition to these benefits, quinoa is one of the only grains that provide complete protein. Finally, since quinoa contains no gluten, it’s the best grain for those with gastrointestinal problems with other grains.
Whole Oats (Large Flake)
Oats and quinoa run neck and neck for the title of healthiest grain, so make sure you include both of them in your diet. Oats have a low glycemic index therefore they control blood sugars well. They are also rich in the B-vitamins and vitamin E, are hypoallergenic relative to wheat and other grains, and contain more soluble fiber than any other grain. Just remember, though, you’ll want to save your grains for the post-exercise period. That’s when your body best tolerates carbohydrates.
Mixed Nuts (Pecans, Walnuts, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, etc.)
While nuts used to be considered bad news because of the fat, we now know nuts are one of the healthiest foods around. Eating nuts regularly has been shown to decrease the risks for several diseases (including heart disease) and to promote weight loss. This is due to the fact that nuts are rich in dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, potassium, and vitamin E. In addition, they’re loaded with healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats to speed up metabolism. You’re nuts if you don’t eat your nuts.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It should come as no surprise that this cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet is on our healthy foods list. The monounsaturated fats that come from olive oil play a role in reducing the risk for all sorts of diseases. In addition, they speed up metabolism. Prepare your feedings with olive oil and pretend you’re dining on the coast of the Mediterranean.
Fish Oil (Salmon, Anchovy, Menhaden)
The specific fats (EPA and DHA) in fish oils are considered, by some experts, a cure-all. Fish oil supplementation has been shown to reduce depression, protect against virtually every disease of modern society, boost muscle mass, reduce body fat, and to speed up metabolism. Taking 6-10grams of fish oil (via supplements) per day is the best way to fast track yourself to all of these benefits. So swim upstream with the salmon for a lean body.
Flax Seeds and Flax Seed Oil
Flax seeds and flax seed oils should be a daily part of your diet. These products contain the heart-healthy omega 3 fats you keep hearing so much about. As mentioned, these oils have been shown to have benefits in disease reduction, improving intelligence, reducing depression, boosting metabolism and increasing muscle building. Heck, they’ve even been shown to reduce the symptoms of menopause in women. Flex those muscles with flax.
There’s an old Chinese saying that goes “Better to go without food for a week than green tea for a day.” And those Chinese were onto something. Green tea offers too many benefits to name: from cancer prevention to fat loss from improved blood sugar, to better blood circulation. Live longer and better by drinking your green tea.
Liquid Exercise Drinks (Quickly Digested Carbohydrate and Protein)
Liquid recovery drinks offer more than just muscle recovery. They also improve bone mass and immune function. These quick digesting, targeted nutrition drinks make it much easier to reap all the rewards you deserve from your exercise program. When it’s time to go workout, make sure you don’t leave home without them.
- We eat food, not calories, proteins, carbs, and fats. So rather than speaking in nutrition science terms, speak in food terms – meat, oranges, oats, and other foods.
- Nutrient timing strategies are important as the body handles different nutrients best at different times of the day. If you pay attention to how much you eat, what you eat, and when you eat, you can more easily control your body composition.
- Some foods are better than others and a great criterion for evaluation is this one –the micronutrient to calorie ratio. Those foods with a higher micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) to calorie ratio offer more nutritional bang for your buck.
Excerpt from The Grapplers Guide