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Your Top 10 Foods for Success
No matter if you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder, football player or just a weekend warrior, your nutritional plan is one of the most important requirements for you to achieve your goals. Proper diet and a well thought out supplementation plan are the keys to your success. Without them you are just spinning your wheels.
This article will outline the top 10 foods crucial to your ultimate success in all of your physical endeavours.
#10 - EGGS
Eggs were at one time the gold standard in developing protein rating scales such as the Biological Value (BV) scale. Eggs have a superior amino acid spectrum. They are very good at helping hard training individuals maintain a positive nitrogen balance. Eggs contain virtually no carbs and if you eat only the whites they are also fat free. Even the much maligned yolk is now considered to be something which should be consumed in moderation. The cholesterol and fat in the yolk can help to support hormone production including the best strength training hormone of all, testosterone.
#9 - SALMON
For years bodybuilders and other athletes have consumed can after can of tuna due to its low fat and high protein content. Recent studies have shown that salmon is the fish of choice for athletes. It is an excellent source of protein but also provides the very important and beneficial (not to mention essential) Omega 3 fats. Salmon mainly increases the omega 3s in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docoxsahexaenoic acid (DHA). These EFA's can reduce inflammation from training, as well as from injuries thereby leading to better recovery from intense training sessions. These fats are also responsible for reduced insulin resistance levels, improved cardiovascular health, and even muscle growth. Forget about that can of tuna and replace it with salmon so that you can benefit from this amazing fish!
#8 - TURKEY
If we were to look at all the meats readily available to us turkey is the leanest of them all, hands down. It thus provides high nutritional value with a low caloric cost. It is an excellent source of protein. In a 7 ounce serving of turkey you get a whopping 70 grams! Wow! If that isn't a concentrated protein source then I don't know what is. It also contains an excellent micronutrient profile. One word of advice, stick with the white meat as it is lower in fat than the dark or organ meats.
#7 - SWEET POTATOES
Sweet potatoes are a food which too many of us only eat during the holidays. They are one of the best complex carbohydrate sources available. A 7 ounce serving provides 48 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, less than 2 grams of fat, and a paltry 200 calories. Sweet Potatoes are also loaded to the brim with vitamins and minerals. They contain large amounts of vitamins A (40,000 IU!!!), C, B6 and beta carotene as well as the trace minerals manganese and copper. Don't let the fact they are much sweeter than regular potatoes fool you into thinking they are higher in calories or have a higher glycemic index. Actually, the opposite is true! The presence of an enzyme that converts starches to sugars (which leads to their sweet taste) is why they can be so sweet and yet not have a higher glycemic index than standard potatoes. Sweet potatoes are also high in fibre. Off-season, pre-contest, or pre-game the sweet potato has a lot to offer the athlete looking to take his performance to the next level!
#6 - COTTAGE CHEESE
Cottage cheese has found a popular following among athletes and bodybuilders in recent years. A 7 ounce serving of 1% cottage cheese contains 25 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbs, 2 gram of fat, and only 145 calories. It is high in casein protein which is a plus for those looking to maximize their protein retention. Studies have shown that casein clots in the stomach providing a slow release of amino acids into the blood stream. This is the perfect source of protein to take before bed so that there is a steady stream of amino acids in your bloodstream helping you stay in an anabolic state throughout the night. Many people don't care for its taste but there are many recipes and ways to spice it up so that you can take advantage of this super food!
#5 - LEGUMES
Most people don't consume enough legumes. This may be because of the childhood rhyme, "Beans, beans the magical fruitů" Ok, enough of that! The reality is that legumes are very good for your health and performance. Beans, lentils and peas are definitely the number one source of plant protein available. They are an incomplete source of protein since they don't contain all the essential amino acids in adequate quantities but you can easily remedy this by including them with rice or with another source of complete protein (meats, protein powders etc.). Legumes are low in fat and contain close to 25% of their calories from protein. They are also high in B vitamins and all the trace minerals. Let's not forget that they are also an excellent source of dietary fibre and this is something that most athletes and bodybuilders don't get enough of. Legumes have a low glycemic index so they will not adversely affect your blood sugar levels. Find a place in your diet for them and you will be the better athlete for it!
#4 - OATMEAL
Oatmeal is one of the best-ever sources of complex carbs! It is low on the glycemic index scale so it won't give you a massive insulin spike and send you into the sleep zone an hour later. It is high in both insoluble and soluble fibre. It is not only low in fat; the fat it does contain is over 80% unsaturated. Oatmeal has been shown to reduce cholesterol. One cup per day can help improve your cholesterol levels in as little as 8 weeks. When choosing your oatmeal, don't get the ones in nice little flavoured packets. These contain excessive amounts of sugars and hydrogenated oils. Get yourself a nice bag of steel cut rolled oats. If you have been ignoring oatmeal now is the time to make it part of your new healthy breakfast.
#3 - ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
I bet you would have never thought that fat would make it on this top 10 list. Fats have been considered an evil for too long. Studies and real world results have shown that low fat diets are ineffective for muscle gains and fat loss. As was already touched upon in the discussion of salmon the right kinds of fats need to be incorporated into any smart dietary regimen. What are the right kinds of fats? My personal favourite fats (oils are fats) are: salmon oil, herring oil, hemp oil, flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, and Udo's Ultimate Blend. Flax seed and hemp oil provide the body with the much needed omega 3 and 6 fats (also known as polyunsaturated fats). Olive oil provides you with the all important monounsaturated fats. It also contains oleic acid which has been shown to keep the arteries in your heart soft and supple. Udo's Ultimate blend is a balanced combination of all the healthy fats including omegas 3, 6, and 9. Bottom line, fats can improve your hormonal profile (testosterone, for example), increase muscle hypertrophy, decrease body fat levels, improve cardiovascular health, benefit insulin sensitivity, and much more. Eat the right kinds and you will reap the benefits!
#2 - Protein Powder
I know, you are thinking that protein powder is a supplement, not a food. True, but protein is contained in most foods and protein powder is merely a concentrated form and really more like a food than most supplements. So, by author's choice I have included it in my list. Bodybuilders and athletes have been using protein shakes since the 1950's to help them ingest sufficient protein. Nitrean is one of the best protein products on the market. Its protein matrix provides a superior mix of whey, casein, and egg proteins which results in one of the highest net retention to protein ingested ratios of any product on the market. This means bigger muscles and better recovery. Nitrean contains all the essential amino acids and is high in the important branch chain form. It has immune boosting abilities, as well as antioxidant properties.
#1 - WATER
That's right; water grabs the number 1 slot as it should. The body's most abundant nutrient is water. Water helps to keep our organs functioning efficiently. It rids our bodies of impurities and toxins. It hydrates our muscle cells helping them improve nutrient absorption. Water also helps liberate fat stores so that fat can be burned off as an energy source. Bodybuilders should drink a minimum of 1 gallon of water daily. Bodybuilders that consume high protein diets need extra water to help prevent dehydration. Did you know that the less water that you drink the more likely you are to become overtrained? The correlation between water consumption and your rate of overtraining is directly linked. Believe it or not muscle is comprised of over 70% water. When you increase your protein intake your body requires more water to process it. Let's not forget that sweating from intense workouts causes you to lose water as well. Water is also an essential transport mechanism for a vast array of nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Even more important is how water transports carbohydrates in the form of glucose into muscle cells. It serves an important role in all cellular activity. If your water intake is too low, your ability to transport nutrients becomes compromised, muscle fullness decreases, and a toxic build up of ammonia, urea, uric acid, and other junk begins to accumulate in your body. So, in short, drink your water!
Ok, so the Top 10 Best Foods are no longer a mystery. The foods on this list should be staples of your diet irrespective of your sport. If they are not part of your current nutrition plan then it is time to go shopping so that you can take advantage of the many health and fitness benefits they have to offer.
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