Category Archives: Food Combinations

Magnificent Magnesium

Magnificent Magnesium

Magnificent Magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral for those looking to build a better body.
Now that’s one heck of an understatement. It’s not unlike saying that the quarterback is an important position on a football team or that Lindsay Lohan isn’t an ideal role model for young women.
Magnesium plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, many of which are directly related to muscle function and protein synthesis. Yet most Americans don’t get anywhere near enough magnesium, and the problem is amplified in hard training athletes and muscleheads.
To make matters worse, magnesium is slowly disappearing from the modern diet. Industrial agriculture and food processing methods literally strip magnesium and other valuable minerals right from our food supply, making it harder to consume enough nutrients from even a seemingly “healthy,” varied diet.
So what can we do about it? First, let’s take a closer look at why magnesium is so critically important.

Parathyroid Hormone, Vitamin D…And Atherosclerosis?

As stated, magnesium has many essential roles in human biochemistry. For one, magnesium deficiency is associated with hypoparathyroidism and low vitamin D production.
Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to disrupted bone metabolism. However, in several animal trials, supplementing with magnesium even inhibited the development of atherosclerosis!

Insulin Sensitivity

Magnificent Magnesium
Magnesium is known as the mineral of glucose control as it’s closely associated with insulin sensitivity, and a low intake has been linked with the development of type-2 diabetes. Furthermore, rat studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can mostly prevent diabetes.
Interestingly, high blood glucose and insulin levels seem to reduce magnesium status even more. It seemingly creates a vicious cycle where low magnesium levels lead to poor glucose control and insulin sensitivity, which again lowers magnesium status.
In healthy volunteers, those following a low-magnesium diet for only four weeks reduced their insulin sensitivity by 25%, suggesting that magnesium deficiency can lead to insulin resistance.
Magnesium supplementation in particular has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant subjects, both diabetics and non-diabetic alike. Let’s take a look at a few of these studies.

  • A 16-week trial with type 2 diabetics found that magnesium supplementation improved fasting glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, and HbA1c levels (a form of hemoglobin which is measured primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time). HbA1c levels were improved by 22%, which is an incredible number. That would take a diabetic with an HbA1c level of 8% (not good) down to 6.2% (very good) in only four months.
  • A recent study showed that magnesium supplementation, even when levels are normal, could have positive benefits. Six months of magnesium supplementation in obese people who were insulin sensitive and had normal blood levels of magnesium led to further improved insulin sensitivity, as well as a 7% improvement in fasting glucose levels.
  • A study on magnesium supplementation in insulin resistant but non-diabetic volunteers who had low blood levels of magnesium showed incredible results after only 16 weeks. Participants reduced their insulin resistance by 43% and fasting insulin by 32%, suggesting that their magnesium deficiency may have been one of the main reasons why they were insulin resistant in the first place.

Magnesium supplementation also improved subjects’ blood lipids. Total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides were all decreased, while HDL increased. The triglyceride improvement (of 39%!) makes the most sense, as improved glucose control will keep the liver from cranking out more TG’s, but the rest of the improvement is remarkable, too.

What About Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease?

Recent reviews have concluded that magnesium deficiency can lead to increased LDL levels, endothelial dysfunction, increased inflammation and oxidative stress, and constriction of coronary arteries (decreasing oxygen and nutrients to the heart). Well, that doesn’t sound all that appealing.
Magnesium supplementation and repletion has been shown to decrease LDL levels (as well as improve the other blood lipids), restore endothelial dysfunction in people with coronary artery disease, and decrease inflammation.

Enough Already! Where Do I Get Me Some Magnesium?

Magnificent Magnesium
The best sources of magnesium are fish, nuts, seeds, beans, leafy greens, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables. In particular, salmon, halibut, spinach, almonds, cashews, potatoes, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and brown rice are all good whole sources of this precious mineral.
It’s important to note that magnesium content is dependent on soil quality, so buying most of these foods from organic or sustainable farms might provide you with greater levels of dietary magnesium. While this argument is still considered speculative, there is no dispute that conventionally grown foods are being raised in depleted soils. You can’t expect to grow nutrient-rich food from nutrient-stripped soil, so it might be worth the cost to go organic or sustainable.
It should also be noted that foods like whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are also rich sources of phytic acid. Phytic acid may provide some independent health benefits, but it’s also an anti-nutrient that binds to magnesium (among other nutrients), preventing its absorption.
Historically, healthy non-industrial cultures that consumed significant amounts of grains also soaked or fermented them. This process would greatly decrease the phytic acid content while increasing nutrient bioavailability and improving digestibility. They might not have known why it worked; they just knew it did work.
For this reason, I recommend most of your grains be sprouted (like Ezekiel products) to reduce (but not eliminate) phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. It would also be a good idea to soak your beans for at least 24 hours, as well as roasting or buying roasted nuts, as these preparation methods may reduce phytic acid as well.
Finally, a very simple, convenient, not to mention effective option is simply to buy a high quality magnesium supplement like BIOTEST EliteproTM Minerals. One serving of EliteproTM contains 400mg of highly absorbable magnesium glycinate chelate, along with zinc, selenium, chromium, and vanadium, key minerals for blood sugar management, protein synthesis, and hormonal status.
Taking EliteproTM once a day along with choosing as many organic magnesium-rich whole foods as you can comfortably afford would be a near foolproof strategy.

Conclusion

Magnesium is, well, kind of a big deal. It’s vital for proper bone metabolism, vitamin D metabolism, parathyroid function, insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance as well as proper blood lipid levels and prevention of atherosclerosis, not to mention cardiovascular disease. It even helps you chill out after a stressful day and sleep like a baby.
But we also know that most Americans don’t consume enough magnesium, and that the industrialization of our food production has further decreased levels of this critical mineral. While consuming a diet based on real, whole, minimally processed foods should provide you with adequate levels, a high-quality mineral supplement like BIOTEST EliteproTM Mineral Support makes things a whole lot easier.
Consuming foods rich in magnesium along with proper supplementation will ensure adequate levels and provide you with more health benefits than you could possibly remember.
Or maybe you could? I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it was discovered that magnesium assisted in memory and cognitive function.

References

Ford E, Mokdad A. Dietary Magnesium Intake in a National Sample of U.S. Adults. J. Nutr. 133:2879-2882, September 2003
Zofková I, Kancheva RL. The relationship between magnesium and calciotropic hormones. Magnes Res. 1995 Mar;8(1):77-84.
B T Altura, et al. Magnesium dietary intake modulates blood lipid levels and atherogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 March; 87(5): 1840–1844.
Cohen H, et al. Atherogenesis inhibition induced by magnesium-chloride fortification of drinking water. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 Winter;90(1-3):251-9.
Bo Ma, et al. Dairy, Magnesium, and Calcium Intake in Relation to Insulin Sensitivity: Approaches to Modeling a Dose-dependent Association. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2006 Sept;164(5):449-458
Huerta MG, et al. Magnesium deficiency is associated with insulin resistance in obese children. Diabetes Care. 2005 May;28(5):1175-81.
Song Y, et al. Dietary magnesium intake in relation to plasma insulin levels and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan;27(1):59-65.
Lopez-Ridaura R, et al. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan;27(1):134-40.
Balon TW, et al. Magnesium supplementation reduces development of diabetes in a rat model of spontaneous NIDDM. Am J Physiol. 1995 Oct;269(4 Pt 1):E745-52.
Nadler JL, et al. Magnesium deficiency produces insulin resistance and increased thromboxane synthesis. Hypertension. 1993 Jun;21(6 Pt 2):1024-9.
Rodríguez-Morán M, Guerrero-Romero F. Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr;26(4):1147-52.
Mooren FC, et al. Oral magnesium supplementation reduces insulin resistance in non-diabetic subjects – a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2011 Mar;13(3):281-4.
Guerrero-Romero F, et al. Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Diabetes Metab. 2004 Jun;30(3):253-8.
Chakraborti S, et al. Protective role of magnesium in cardiovascular diseases: a review. Mol Cell Biochem. 2002 Sep;238(1-2):163-79.
Maier JA. Low magnesium and atherosclerosis: an evidence-based link. Mol Aspects Med. 2003 Feb-Jun;24(1-3):137-46.
Bohn T, et al. Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):418-23.

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Eat Like Laird Hamilton



Eat Like Laird Hamilton – Best Life Magazine

A big-wave legend’s 10 rules for eating healthfully

People think I look as good as I do at 44 because I exercise a lot. That’s only half the equation. The other half is what I eat. I love Japanese food. I love Hawaiian food. I love food in general. But I don’t eat haphazardly. I eat for performance and health, and let’s not forget pleasure. Those are the elements of what I call “food intelligence.” Not that I’m obsessive. My meals don’t take three hours to prepare, I don’t measure food by the gram, and if I get into a position where I have to eat an airplane meal or a Big Mac, I’m not going to love it, but it won’t put me into toxic shock. Instead of being like a high-performance car that is sensitive to any impurities in the fuel, I’m more like a diesel truck. If a little water gets in there, it’s still going to be okay. Here’s how I power my body.

1. Push Start
I like to begin the day at the blender with a smoothie. My favorite recipe contains five supplements that help me optimize my nutrition. A single tablespoon of Catie’s Organic Greens, for instance, equals seven servings of green vegetables. I also add apple or cherry juice and frozen bananas and berries for a nice consistency. My morning smoothie gives my body a huge amount of nutrients, which are easily absorbed because liquids are easier to digest than solids. Less than an hour later, I’m ready for whatever activity is on the agenda.

2. Don’t Graze
I don’t like to eat unless I’m hungry. When I sit down to a meal, I want my body to be in a state of craving. Not eating until you’re hungry means you’re not snacking much, if at all.

3. Chew Slowly
All too often we take our food for granted. I’m always reminding myself to eat more consciously, to savor what I’m chewing. Nature has given us millions of unique flavors. Our job is to explore and appreciate them. It also makes you hyperaware of how much you’re eating.

4. Eat Real Foods
Be wary of any food that has been created by humans rather than nature. The ingredients on the labels of processed foods, such as the average cracker or potato chip, are mind-boggling. If I don’t know what it is, it’s not going into my body.

5. Be Diverse
The food universe is vast, and in it there are hundreds of nutrients, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, bioflavonoids, phytochemical, all kinds of elements. Each one provides something unique to our cells. That’s why the more diverse your diet, the healthier you’re going to be. Mix it up when you grocery shop. Don’t just buy the same stuff every time.

6. Experiment
Eating colorful, interesting foods exposes me to new flavors, and that’s really what makes eating fun. There are countless things you can try, but strange fruits, vegetables, and grains, such as acai berries, seaweed, and quinoa, are becoming easier to find. A palm fruit native to the Brazilian Amazon, has 30 times the amount of antioxidants of red wine. Try mixing it with bananas and granola for breakfast. Edible seaweeds such as limu kohu and nori contain minerals and elements you won’t get anywhere else. Next time you have sushi, try a seaweed salad instead of edamame. Quinoa, unlike other grains, is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids.

7. Listen to Your Body
Cravings have a bad reputation because they’re often related to sweets, but I think they’re the body’s way of indicating that it’s looking for something. Listen to your body to figure out what the craving really means. If my body wants sugar, I eat fruit, such as papaya or pineapple, instead of candy or doughnuts.

8. Don’t Be Thrifty
People say that buying quality food is too expensive, but then they’ll go out and buy giant plasma TVs. So you’re eating like crap but you’re staring at a nice screen? I don’t understand that logic. Instead, budget so that you can spend a little more money for better food. In particular, be sure to upgrade anything you eat on a regular basis. If you have coffee every morning, for instance, buy the best beans you can find. Or, even better, drink espresso. It contains less caffeine than drip coffee, delivers more antioxidants, and isn’t as acidic.

9. Skip Starches
If I eat any bread, it makes me want to go to sleep. In general, I avoid wheat and other starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta. I’m not saying I’ll never eat a waffle or a sandwich, but it’s a rare thing, and I’m not going out of my way to do it.

10. Eat Sustainable Foods
If you eat meat or seafood, look for terms such as free range, grass fed, organic, or locally caught. The closer it is to wild, the better. Sadly, one of my favorite wild foods is tuna. Buy only yellowfin or ahi, and make sure it’s caught by trolling or with poles; long-lining produces bycatch, which means that other ocean creatures are wastefully killed in the process.

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>Train More or Eat Less?

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What’s the Best Way to Boost Fat Loss?

Train More or Eat Less?: What's the Best Way to Boost Fat Loss?

The Decision

If your goal is fat loss, then there’s going to come a time when you have to make a decision: How much more am I going to diet? How much cardio or extra exercise am I going to do? Which is better?
Typically, there are four basic strategies when it comes to getting ripped:

Strategy #1: Drugs

Most of us aren’t going to go this route, nor do we need to, but I have to mention it because it’s a method commonly used by professional bodybuilders.
I was reading an old bodybuilding interview from the Tom Platz era where the competitor said, “Oh, you really don’t need a lot of cardio.” I’m thinking, well, you didn’t, dude!
But if you’re not artificially elevating your basal metabolic rate, jacking around with lots of thyroid meds, clenbuterol etc., then at some point you have to bring cardio into the equation.

Strategy #2: Cardio

There are two basic types here: the non-panting, semi-fasted variety that I’ve written about before and high-intensity work like sprints and intervals. These can be used in conjunction with each other or independently depending on your state of training.

Strategy #3: Food Restriction

Sure, this is obviously part of any diet plan, but you can only push it so far.
There’s a miniature literature review here on the site that outlines how far one can go while avoiding “starvation mode” (metabolic slow-down) by sticking to just moderate kcal restrictions.

Strategy #4: More Weight Training

Train More or Eat Less?: What's the Best Way to Boost Fat Loss?

Although we don’t think about it often, a longer weight-training workout does lead to extra calorie expenditure, some derived from fat oxidation.
We shouldn’t forget that hitting the iron itself increases subcutaneous abdominal fat breakdown and “burning.” (Ormsbee, et al. 2009) If you’re going to try to avoid cardio, your only other options are more volume, finishing work, or accessory work during your regular training session.
Of these four strategies, two get the most attention: cardio and diet. So let’s take a look at each and establish some guidelines.

Calories: How Low is Too Low?

You’ve heard this applied to other topics, and it’s true for calorie intake as well: “You can only go so far to the left before you’ve got to go back to the right.”
How many calories can you get away with before your metabolism really slows down and you go into starvation mode?
Starvation mode is something you have to avoid at all costs. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is about 65 or 70% of all the calories you put out every day. So when you slow that down, even a cardio workout that burns 400 calories may just be making up for a depressed BMR.
In the classic underfeeding studies in the 60’s and 70’s, college-aged men were fed 3500 calories per day, then dropped to only 450 per day. These poor guys experienced up to a 45% drop in BMR in a single month. (Bray, G., 1969)
That’s true starvation mode: their bodies were trying to keep from dying, their metabolisms were “panicking” and slowing down because it was assumed they were in the middle of a famine.
When you do a literature review, the magnitude of reduction becomes fairly clear: somewhere around 600 or 700 calories intake is about as far as I’d want to initially go.
What’s maintenance intake? It’s about 3000 kcal per day in a typical (non-lifter) college male. (Borel, M., et al 1984)
Okay, so if the average college male needs 3000 calories per day, the first step might be to drop to 2400. That’s definitely below maintenance for any adult male who’s lifting weights.
That may be the first stage. I don’t think it’s a good idea to jump right into a very aggressive diet. You probably aren’t relying on lots of drugs, so you really have tiptoe here – or at least show some respect. Ease calories down in a more controlled manner rather than going from a full-on mass phase to a crazy-strict 1600 calorie diet.
Hormones change fairly quickly in response to eating patterns. As my old endocrine professor said, “When it comes to hormones, you have to nudge the body.” You don’t force it, because then homeostatic mechanisms kick in and make you pay the price tenfold.
It’s not that painful to get down to a 2400 calorie intake. If you do something practical like cut the carbs out of your dinner and stop drinking calories (other than protein shakes and peri-workout drinks), you can get there easily. Just cut out the obvious junk food and 2400 is an easy mark to hit.
Do that for the first month or so. After the first month, you’re used to eating clean: no more junk, a lower carb dinner, etc. Then, in a month or two, continue the negative calorie balance with some cardio rather than dropping calorie intake again right way.
I like the non-panting morning variety (walking on a treadmill) because it doesn’t overtrain you. You’re not crossing any stress hormone thresholds. That said, you could do some high-intensity interval work after your weight-training workout if that’s your preference. I’ve been known to switch to this when I really needed the extra hour of sleep the prior morning (making pre-breakfast cardio impossible).
But frankly, I usually don’t have anything left in me after the weights. When I hear people say they do “lots of interval work” after their regular workouts, I worry that they’re not going to achieve their best muscular gains. That can be easily overdone: you’re dividing your body’s resources – half into the weights and half into the constant aerobics training. Not good.
Although controversial due to methodological differences, sub-optimal training responses have been well-documented in spaceflight, military, and other studies. (Carrithers, J. et al. 2007; Docherty & Sporer 2000; Dolezal & Potteiger 1998; Dudley & Djamil, 1985; Santtila, M., et al. 2009.)
Now, at bodybuilding shows, I hear my fellow competitors talk about how they quickly reduce calories to very low levels, then stay there for 12 weeks. Well, in open competitions, when the competitor is on lots of “gas,” he can do that. I can’t, so I try to coax the body fat off with a 20-week diet that starts “easy” and gets more aggressive toward the end. This is not only metabolically smarter, it’s psychologically better – for me at any rate. It builds momentum.
During the first month, I just cut down the calories moderately. (Sometimes I’ll do some very limited interval work on the bike just to set the stage for the following month.) The second month I add in regular non-panting cardio, keeping calories the same. With the pre-breakfast style cardio that I do, I usually drain off 400 more calories.
So if you’re eating 2400 kcal per day, you’re now down to 2000 in a sense because you’re “bleeding off” another 400 with the extra work. Now you’re in a calorie deficit through a combination of dietary manipulation and cardio.
If it doesn’t ask you, it’s going to assume you’re a 150-pound dude. If you’re not, then you’re burning far more calories than it tells you.
That’s still no guarantee that it’s accurate. Those consoles on the cardio machines are just glorified calculators, not portable metabolic carts, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

The Exercise Factor

Train More or Eat Less?: What's the Best Way to Boost Fat Loss?

Remember, exercise is not just anti-eating. Exercise builds structures like capillaries and mitochondria. In other words, exercise builds your fat-burning machinery.
Let’s say your maintenance level is 3000 calories per day. After a month or so of easing calories down, you drop 600 calories, then spend another 400 calories on cardio several days a week. Now you’re 1000 calories sub-maintenance.
Now is when you have to start making decisions based on your results and individual needs. You’re eating less and doing more cardio – you’re pushing it pretty hard. At this point, I’d suggest a couple of things:
First, if you feel like the diet is really easy, maybe you can restrict down again food-wise. You take it down to 2000 calories of food per day if you’re not already there.
Second, if you’re already having a tough time with diet, the flipside is to add more calorie output in some way with physical activity. If you’re already doing the fasted morning stuff, maybe you try some HIIT after a weight-training workout, or vice-versa. If you can’t do both because of your schedule, you can start adding sets in the gym.
Once you’re 1000 calories below maintenance, you really have to decide whether you’re fresh enough to do this physically or dietarily. It’s a subjective call. If this is coming at the end of month two or during month three of your cutting phase, and you find yourself having a tough time sleeping, getting head colds, upper respiratory tract infections, or cold sores, you’re probably overtraining.
There’s a clear link between your immune system taking a hit and overreaching. Your body could be saying, “Listen, I’m struggling here. Enough with the extra exercise volume!”
Use this to decide where you’re going next. If my motivation to train was humming along at 6’s and 7’s and now it’s routinely a 3 or a 4, I’m burning myself out. Now I know not to add any more cardio or sets in the weight room.
I do the same thing with hunger. This is where experience plays a roll: Is it “munchies” calling, or is it truedepletion? There’s being “empty and weak” and then there’s “wishing you had a bag of chips.” The latter is just your love handles calling. The former may be your muscles calling, so go ahead and feed them a little.

The 1200 to 1600 Calorie Rule

Train More or Eat Less?: What's the Best Way to Boost Fat Loss?

As a rule of thumb, most authorities will tell you – rightly – to never go below 1200 calories a day. But frankly, that’s usually for smaller women or for those who aren’t physically active. Why 1200? Because you can’t possibly get all the nutrients you need from a variety of foods with a ceiling below that!
For college men, I’d never go below 1600 calories per day, and then only temporarily. That’s ridiculously low, especially if you’re already doing cardio as part of your plan.
Right now I’m two weeks from a bodybuilding show, in strict contest prep mode, and I’m sitting at 1600-1800 cals. Let me tell you, it’s not even fun right now! I’m just trying to hold myself together. The little nagging injuries are starting to accumulate. (Then again, I’m 42, with lots of mileage on this chassis.)
In any case, if you’re strung out and under-eating, you may start cramping and getting little injuries that just don’t go away. This is especially obvious to the older, more experienced lifter. That’s because you’re eating so little that your tissues just aren’t turning over.
Let’s say you’re well into a diet, say month four (weeks 13-16 out of 20). You’re at a rock-bottom 1600 kcal per day and doing cardio. First, realize that this isn’t sustainable. You should have a target date where the diet is “finished.” Now, consider NEPA.

The NEPA Factor

One of then things I have people do is buy a pedometer that measures steps taken per day. First, get some baseline data of how many steps you take when you’re eating well – your normal diet. Let’s say you’re walking around getting a good 8000 steps per day.
But now, months deep into your diet, you look down and you’re getting 4000 or 5000 steps per day. You’re moving around less in part because you have less thyroid and leptin. You’re less energized. You’re sluggish. Your body is trying to conserve energy.
This decreased NEPA (Non-Exercise Physical Activity) is yet another factor to keep in mind. It’s one more thing you can “ballpark” measure.
I don’t think people really understand NEPA. Most of us are closer to sedentary than we think, even if we go to the gym and do our cardio. To achieve “very active” status in one of those formulas that determines your calorie needs, you have to have a manual labor job, then go work out, then go dancing all night!
Most of us fall into the middle of the NEPA category: light to sedentary work but with intense recreational exertion. Overall, this may be considered “moderately active” in one of those dietary software programs. That’s where I fall as a bodybuilding college professor.

The Supplement Edge

If you’re afraid that your BMR is slowing, consider supplements. Caffeine will boost it by about 10%, and so will Spike® Energy Drink or Hot-Rox® Extreme. Plus, good ol’ water helps with thermogeniesis. (Boschmann, M., et al. 2003) So you may want to swig down your supplements with plentiful, cold H20.

So What Have We Learned?

Train More or Eat Less?: What's the Best Way to Boost Fat Loss?

Exercise results in a small magnitude of body weight change, but it’s long in duration (lasting). In other words, for those who start to exercise but don’t touch their diets, they’ll have modest results, but those results will last forever if they keep exercising.
Diet is the opposite. Dietary changes tend to be dramatic. You can lose 10, 20, 30 pounds, but it’s not long term, especially if it’s not accompanied by training. The long term success rate of restrictive stand-alone diets is dismal (perhaps about 5%) over eight years.
This illustrates why it’s important to do both: exercise and eat right. You can take small steps and increase one but not the other, or you can do both at the same time, intelligently, for faster results.
How much exercise is too much? If you experience lack of motivation and are getting sick or injured, you’ve already gone too far. As a best guess for most people, two hours a day is the top-end. That could be an hour in the morning and an hour at night.
Ectomorphic people, who tend to be thinner and more angular, may only be able to get away with 90 to 120 minutes per day.
Very robust endomorphs or mesomorphs, those who genetically carry more fat and muscle, may be able to get away with 2.5 hours of exercise per day.
For calorie restriction, 1600 calories is rock-bottom for the average T NATION reader. My advice is to take your time getting to that level, then have a targeted end date. I like 20-week diets.
Remember, you can’t keep cranking the diet knob and lowering calories forever. Instead, switch gears: do extra sets, add cardio, or add supplements.

References and Further Reading

1. Borel M., et al. Am J Clin Nutr 1984 Dec;40(6):1264-72.
2. Boschmann, M., et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9.
3. Bray, G. Lancet 1969; 2:397.
4. Carrithers, J., et al Aviat Space Environ Med. 2007 May;78(5):457-62.
5. Docherty, D. and Sporer, B. Sports Med. 2000 Dec;30(6):385-94.
6. Dolezal, B. and Potteiger, J. J Appl Physiol. 1998 Aug;85(2):695-700
7. Dudley, G. and Djamil, R. J Appl Physiol. 1985 Nov;59(5):1446-51.
8. Ormsbee, M., et al. J Appl Physiol. 2009 May;106(5):1529-37.
9. Santtila, M., et al. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jul;23(4):1300-8.

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The Truth Behind 5 Food Myths

By: Alan Aragon, M.S.

It goes like this: A client looking to lead a healthier life hires me, a nutritionist, to help him improve his diet. I analyze what he’s been eating, factor in his food preferences, and together we create an eating plan that fits his lifestyle and goals. Soon after, he’s noticeably leaner and more energetic—a happy customer.

That’s when the trouble starts. After a coworker asks him for the details of his diet, my client suddenly finds himself in a heated interrogation. Doesn’t your nutritionist know red meat causes cancer? And that potatoes cause diabetes? Shouldn’t he tell you to eat less salt, to prevent high blood pressure?

The upshot: Myths just made my job a lot harder. That’s because nutrition misinformation fools men into being confused and frustrated in their quest to eat healthily, even if they’re already achieving great results. Thankfully, you’re about to be enlightened by science. Here are five food fallacies you can forget about for good.

High Protein is Harmful
Myth #1: “High protein intake is harmful to your kidneys.”

The origin: Back in 1983, researchers first discovered that eating more protein increases your “glomerular filtration rate,” or GFR. Think of GFR as the amount of blood your kidneys are filtering per minute. From this finding, many scientists made the leap that a higher GFR places your kidneys under greater stress.

What science really shows: Nearly 2 decades ago, Dutch researchers found that while a protein-rich meal did boost GFR, it didn’t have an adverse effect on overall kidney function. In fact, there’s zero published research showing that downing hefty amounts of protein—specifically, up to 1.27 grams per pound of body weight a day—damages healthy kidneys.

The bottom line: As a rule of thumb, shoot to eat your target body weight in grams of protein daily. For example, if you’re a chubby 200 pounds and want to be a lean 180, then have 180 grams of protein a day. Likewise if you’re a skinny 150 pounds but want to be a muscular 180.

Sweet Potatoes are Better
Myth #2: “Sweet potatoes are better for you than white potatoes.”

The origin: Because most Americans eat the highly processed version of the white potato—for instance, french fries and potato chips—consumption of this root vegetable has been linked to obesity and an increased diabetes risk. Meanwhile, sweet potatoes, which are typically eaten whole, have been celebrated for being rich in nutrients and also having a lower glycemic index than their white brethren.

What science really shows: White potatoes and sweet potatoes have complementary nutritional differences; one isn’t necessarily better than the other. For instance, sweet potatoes have more fiber and vitamin A, but white potatoes are higher in essential minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. As for the glycemic index, sweet potatoes are lower on the scale, but baked white potatoes typically aren’t eaten without cheese, sour cream, or butter. These toppings all contain fat, which lowers the glycemic index of a meal.

The bottom line: The form in which you consume a potato—for instance, a whole baked potato versus a processed potato that’s used to make chips—is more important than the type of spud.

Red Meat Causes Cancer
Myth #3: “Red meat causes cancer.”

The origin: In a 1986 study, Japanese researchers discovered cancer developing in rats that were fed “heterocyclic amines,” compounds that are generated from overcooking meat under high heat. And since then, some studies of large populations have suggested a potential link between meat and cancer.

What science really shows: No study has ever found a direct cause-and-effect relationship between red-meat consumption and cancer. As for the population studies, they’re far from conclusive. That’s because they rely on broad surveys of people’s eating habits and health afflictions, and those numbers are simply crunched to find trends, not causes.

The bottom line: Don’t stop grilling. Meat lovers who are worried about the supposed risks of grilled meat don’t need to avoid burgers and steak; rather, they should just trim off the burned or overcooked sections of the meat before eating.

HFCS is Fattening
Myth #4: “High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more fattening than regular sugar is.”

The origin: In a 1968 study, rats that were fed large amounts of fructose developed high levels of fat in their bloodstreams. Then, in 2002, University of California at Davis researchers published a well-publicized paper noting that Americans’ increasing consumption of fructose, including that in HFCS, paralleled our skyrocketing rates of obesity.

What science really shows: Both HFCS and sucrose—better known as table sugar—contain similar amounts of fructose. For instance, the two most commonly used types of HFCS are HFCS-42 and HFCS-55, which are 42 and 55 percent fructose, respectively. Sucrose is almost chemically identical, containing 50 percent fructose. This is why the University of California at Davis scientists determined fructose intakes from both HFCS and sucrose. The truth is, there’s no evidence to show any differences in these two types of sugar. Both will cause weight gain when consumed in excess.

The bottom line: HFCS and regular sugar are empty-calorie carbohydrates that should be consumed in limited amounts. How? By keeping soft drinks, sweetened fruit juices, and prepackaged desserts to a minimum.

Salt Causes High Blood Pressure
Myth #5: “Salt causes high blood pressure and should be avoided.”

The origin: In the 1940s, a Duke University researcher named Walter Kempner, M.D., became famous for using salt restriction to treat people with high blood pressure. Later, studies confirmed that reducing salt could help reduce hypertension.

What science really shows: Large-scale scientific reviews have determined there’s no reason for people with normal blood pressure to restrict their sodium intake. Now, if you already have high blood pressure, you may be “salt sensitive.” As a result, reducing the amount of salt you eat could be helpful.

However, it’s been known for the past 20 years that people with high blood pressure who don’t want to lower their salt intake can simply consume more potassium-containing foods. Why? Because it’s really the balance of the two minerals that matters. In fact, Dutch researchers determined that a low potassium intake has the same impact on your blood pressure as high salt consumption does. And it turns out, the average guy consumes 3,100 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day—1,600 mg less than recommended.

The bottom line: Strive for a potassium-rich diet, which you can achieve by eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes. For instance, spinach, broccoli, bananas, white potatoes, and most types of beans each contain more than 400 mg potassium per serving.

Wikio

One Hundred Gram Carb Cure

Bench Press

Abs by Gunpoint

The Power of 100 Grams

We’ve both been recommending this ridiculously simple yet powerfully effective dietary approach for years. We’ve seen it work with everyone from hardcore male bodybuilders to hardcore female kindergarten teachers.
It not only strips off the excess body fat, it accelerates the process of health improvement by exponentially improving the quality of your diet… all with one little guideline:
Eat about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Why 100 Grams is Magical

Eating 100 grams of carb a day is as close to nutritional magic as you can get:

At 100 grams of carbs per day, you won’t be in ketosis, but your carbs will be low enough that you’ll be preferentially stoking your metabolic furnace with stored and dietary fats and not carbs. Also, most people won’t experience any mental fogginess, crabbiness, or lack of energy that often accompany really low-carb diets.

At 100 grams, you still have room to get in fast-acting carbs as part of your peri-workout nutrition strategy.
There’s never a reason to skip tactical carbs consumed around your weight-training workout. Carbs taken in at this time won’t contribute to fat gain and may even speed up the fat loss process. With a 100 gram daily allowance, you can scorch off the belly fat and maximize the anabolic potential of the peri-workout timeframe.
In addition, with 100 grams of carbohydrates allowed every day, there’s no reason to avoid nutritionally ass-kicking fruits, berries, and vegetables as you have to do with 20 and 30 gram diets. This not only allows you to eat good-for-ya foods, it opens up your diet to a wider variety of meal choices. No need to live on bacon and string cheese for twelve weeks.
Key point: If you eat five meals per day plus your workout drink, 100 grams of carbs is the perfect amount. At each of your five meals you’ll eat around 10 grams of vegetables (preferably green and fibrous) or berries, then during your workout you can slug down a serving of Surge Recovery and boom… 100 grams of carbs.

The Autoregulation Effect

With 100 grams of carbs to “spend” every day, the average person is going to experience powerful autoregulatory effects, even if they pay little attention to the other macronutrients. Follow the 100-Gram Carb Cure and, well, everything else just falls into place:

  • With a limit of 100 grams of carbs, you’ll naturally become selective about the types of carbs you eat, especially on training days when you only have around 50 grams to eat depending on your peri-workout strategy.

    You’ll have to remove refined carbs and the obvious junk food. You’ll need to stick to mainly green fibrous vegetables, small portions of berries, and nuts. On non-lifting days you’ll have room to eat some beans or a protein bar.

  • Calories will be largely controlled since you’ll be choosing more filling foods. These satiating food choices, being on the lower end of the carb count, aren’t going to cause your blood sugar levels to go bonkers, which can lead to cravings and mood/energy fluctuations that we often try to “fix” with more food (and usually not the physique-supportive stuff.)

    In short, it’s just difficult to overeat when your food choices are controlled and carbs don’t exceed 100 grams daily.

  • Some people are label-reading, food-weighing, ingredient-list scanning, waitress-interrogating nutrition freaks. You know, like the humble authors of this article and many TNation readers. But not everyone is. They probably have lives and stuff.

    For those folks, the 100-gram rule becomes an educational tool that teaches them to adopt eating strategies than can last a lifetime. The 100-grammer will be forced to read labels and check out serving sizes. He’ll probably learn to cook his favorite foods since store-bought versions have all kinds of carby crap added to them.

    The 100-grammer won’t fall for bullshit “Low-Fat!” and “Made with Whole Grains!” health claims you see all over the cereal, bread, and Pop-Tart aisle. He’ll ditch the fruit juice, most sugary dairy products, pasta, and HFCS-infused condiments. He’ll become wary of those “guiltless” menu options at chain restaurants, which border on fraudulent.

In other words, by paying close attention to this one macronutrient, the 100 gram dieter will self-regulate, self-educate, and become more self-reliant. He also won’t look like a land whale come summertime. Bonus.

100-Gram Carb Cycling

You can tweak this plan even further by adding the element of carb cycling.
As mentioned above, on training days you can eat around 10 grams of fibrous carbs at five different meals and then have a Surge Recovery for your workout nutrition. (Or FINiBAR pre-workout with Anaconda and/or MAG-10 during and after. Choose your weapon.)
On non-weight training days, don’t add more vegetables and beans in place of the Surge Recovery to get to 100 grams of carbs. Instead, just remove the Surge Recovery and don’t replace the carbs. This way you’ll only be eating 50 grams of carbs that day.
So, about 100 grams of carbs on training day and 50 grams on non-training day. This simplified carb-cycling plan would easily get you over a weight-loss plateau or accelerate your current rate of fat loss.

The Rest of Your Diet

For the rest of your diet (i.e. protein and fats) there are a couple of other guidelines.
Eat protein at every meal: a bunch of eggs, protein powder, or a hunk of meat. It’s hard to screw this part up.
Add fats to each meal as well. Don’t go overboard with nuts and seeds because they come with their fair share of carbs and you’ll quickly be on the 250 Gram Carb Plan. Walnuts are great because they have a lower carb count than any other nut, and they contain the most diverse fatty acid profile (including omega-3s).
Use oils and some butter on your vegetables. Sprinkle salads with different oils or cheeses. Don’t skimp on fatty fish like salmon and take your daily Flameout.

Wait! Why Not Just Count Calories?

Good question. Sure, eat just 1200 calories of anything in a day and you’ll lose weight. Thank you, Law of Thermodynamics.
But you could also lose muscle, wreck your metabolism in the long term, perform poorly in the gym, squander your long-term health, send your hormone levels into tailspins, raid a Chinese buffet, and risk programming in bad dietary habits (“Twinkie Diet,” anyone?). It’s also unsustainable and usually leads to fat regain and rebound.
Oh, and one more little-bitty thing: the higher-carb, “just eat smaller amounts of junk food” diet plan has the highest failure rate of any fat-loss strategy ever developed in history.
Yeah, there’s that.

Mike’s Sample Menus

Training Day

 Eggs, spinach, cheddar-cheese scramble
 Metabolic Drive Low-Carb, walnuts, 1 serving blueberries, Superfood
 Salad (romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers) with chicken and extra virgin olive oil
 Flank steak with asparagus and butter
 Surge Recovery
Chicken breast with broccoli and extra virgin olive oil

Non-Training Day

 4-egg omelet with salsa and cheese, 1/2 a grapefruit (sprinkled with Splenda) on the side
Metabolic Drive Low-Carb, flaxseed oil, 2 serving strawberries, Superfood
Roasted chicken breast with spinach (wilt in a pan with minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil) and a small apple
 Extra-lean ground beef sautŽed with peppers and onions
Roasted salmon (spread Dijon mustard on top before roasting) with asparagus and 1 serving great northern beans

Wrap-Up

Eat about 100 grams of carbs per day.
One rule. Damn-near universally effective for fast, painless fat loss. No gun-toting kidnapper required.

Wikio

7 Strategies to Satisfy Hunger and Lose Weight

By: David Schipper
Recently, Cornell University researchers asked a group of people a simple question: “How do you know when you’re through eating dinner?”

The answer might seem obvious. After all, doesn’t everyone push the plate away when they feel full? Well, no. The leanest people do, according to the scientists, but people who are overweight rely more on what are known as “external cues.” For example, guys packing a few extra pounds tend to stop eating when . . .

1. Their plates are clean.
2. Everyone else in their group is finished.
3. The TV show they’re watching is over.

Unfortunately, these cues have nothing to do with how they feel physically. “People’s brains are often out of touch with their bodies,” says C. Peter Herman, Ph.D., a University of Toronto expert on appetite control. “And when eating becomes mindless, overeating becomes routine.”

The key player in all of this appears to be a region of your brain called the left posterior amygdala, or LPA. This area monitors the volume of food in your stomach during a meal. Fill your gut to a comfortable level, and the LPA tells your brain to drop the fork. Trouble is, it delivers that information at dial-up speed in a DSL world. “Many men consume calories faster than their bodies can say, ‘Stop!'” explains Herman. “So they look to external cues to guide their consumption.”

The bottom line is this: To shrink your gut, you need to start listening to it. We’ve scoured the science and tapped the top experts to help you learn how to do just that. Use these seven simple strategies, and you’ll fill up without filling out.
Sit Down to Snack
Turns out, the trappings of a formal meal make you think you’re eating more than you actually are—and that may boost satiety levels. A 2006 Canadian study found that when people ate lunch while sitting at a set table, they consumed a third less at a later snack than those who ate their midday meals while standing at a counter.

Think of it as the Zen of eating: “If you treat every dining experience with greater respect, you’ll be less likely to use your fork as a shovel,” says sports nutritionist and behavioral psychotherapist Lisa Dorfman, M.S., R.D. “And that includes snacks as well as your three squares.”
Turn Off the Tube
University of Massachusetts researchers found that people who watched TV during a meal consumed 288 more calories on average than those who didn’t. The reason: What you’re seeing on television distracts you, which keeps your brain from recognizing that you’re full.
Slow Down and Savor
“Pay close attention to those first three bites, which people usually wolf down due to excitement,” says Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D., a health psychologist at Duke Integrative Medicine. In fact, mimic a food critic: “Examine the food’s texture, savor the flavors in your mouth, and then pay attention and feel the swallow,” he says. “Psychologically, this form of meditative eating boosts satiety and promotes a sense of satisfaction for the entire meal.”

While you’re at it, try spicing up relatively bland fare, such as scrambled eggs, with hot sauce or smoked paprika. “Hot, flavorful foods help trigger your brain to realize you’re eating,” says Dorfman.

Take a Bite, Take a Breath
University of Rhode Island researchers discovered that consciously slowing down between bites decreases a person’s calorie intake by 10 percent. “Breathing helps you gauge how hungry you are, since it directs your mind toward your body,” says Greeson. “It’s also quite practical, since you can do it throughout a meal and not draw attention to yourself in a social situation.”

Don’t Share Your Food
Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo observed that men who ate with a group of buddies downed 60 percent more calories than when they ate with a spouse or girlfriend. That’s because people often match their intake of food to that of their dining partners.

Of course, you shouldn’t have to sit home on guys’ night out. Choose one reasonable entrée for yourself, and skip the communal foods—bread, nachos, wings, and pizza, for example—which encourage you to take your eating cues from pals.
Keep a Food Journal
It’s an effective way to remind yourself how much you’re eating over the course of a day. But it doesn’t need to be complicated: University of Pittsburgh scientists found that dieters who simply wrote down the size of each meal (S, M, L, XL) were just as successful at losing weight as those who tracked specific foods and calorie counts.

One useful addition: Detail the motivation behind your eating habits. “Were you really hungry or just blowing off steam before bedtime? Recognizing that you weren’t feeling true hunger reinforces the idea of listening to your body,” says Dorfman.
Don’t Trust the “Healthy” Menu
You’re likely to underestimate your meal’s calorie count by about 35 percent, according to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The best approach is to check the restaurant’s nutrition guide before you order. A University of Mississippi study found that people consumed 54 percent fewer calories when they used this simple strategy.

© 2010 Rodale Inc. | MensHealth.com

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15 New Superfoods

By: Stephen Perrine with Heather Hurlock

Your ultimate weight-loss tool doesn’t require assembly like some Ab-O-Matic, it doesn’t cost an entire paycheck, and it doesn’t even require you to break a sweat. It’s in your refrigerator, and it’s called food. The problem is that our “old American diet” has too many calories and not enough real food. So the answer isn’t eating less food—it’s eating more of the right foods. There are 15 of them in particular, and they couldn’t be easier to remember because the first letter of each food spells out NEW AMERICAN DIET.

As detailed in the latest Men’s Health’s book, The New American Diet, these foods are the cure for our old American diet. In fact, in an initial test run, those who tried the New American Diet lost an average of 15 pounds in just 6 weeks. The secret? High-nutrition foods that fill your body with quality fuel and protect you from obesity-causing chemicals (called “obesogens”) found in many conventional food products. Discover how easy it is to flatten your belly for good with The New American Diet’s superfoods. Eat up—and slim down!
1. Nuts  Nuts are New American Diet smart bombs. They’re packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, those good-for-you fats that lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes and, according to new research, help you control your appetite.

Researchers from Georgia Southern University found that eating a high-protein, high-fat snack, such as almonds, increases your calorie burn for up to 3 and a half hours. And just one ounce of almonds boosts vitamin-E levels, increasing memory and cognitive performance, according to researchers at New York Presbyterian Hospital. In another study, people who ate pistachios for 3 months lost 10 to 12 pounds on average.

2. Eggs In a new study in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight participants ate a 340-calorie breakfast of either two eggs or a single bagel 5 days a week for 8 weeks. Those who ate eggs (including the yolk, which contains nearly half the protein and all the nutrient choline) reported higher energy levels and lost 65 percent more weight than bagel-eaters—and with no effect on their cholesterol or triglyceride levels!

Plus, a recent review of more than 25 published studies on protein that concluded that egg protein helps boost muscle strength and development more than other proteins do because of its high concentrations of the amino acid leucine. And egg protein is also better at keeping you from getting hungry over a sustained period.

3. Whole Grains  It’s not a magic disappearing act, but it’s close: When Harvard University researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people over 8 years, they discovered that those ate whole grains daily weighed 2.5 pounds less than those who ate only refined-grain foods.

Another study from Penn State University found that whole-grain eaters lost 2.4 times more belly fat than those who ate refined grains. Whole grains more favorably affect blood-glucose levels, which means they don’t cause wild swings in blood sugar and ratchet up cravings after you eat them. Plus, the antioxidants in whole grains help control inflammation and insulin (a hormone that tells your body to store belly fat).

4. Avocado and Other Healthy Fats Just because a food has plenty of fat and calories in it doesn’t mean it’s “fattening.” See, certain foods cause you to gain weight because they provoke hormonal changes that trigger cravings, or “rebound hunger.” One hunger-control hormone, leptin, becomes blunted by starchy, sweet, fatty, and refined-carbohydrate foods. That’s why a bagel is fattening: It’s a high-caloric load of refined carbohydrates that double-crosses your natural satisfaction response.

Avocados on the other hand aren’t fattening, because they’re loaded with healthy fat and fiber and don’t cause wild swings in insulin levels. So enjoy the fat in avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Research shows that diets containing upward of 50 percent fat are just as effective for weight loss as those that are low in fat.

5. Meat (Pasture-Raised and Free-Range)Grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork is leaner and healthier than conventional livestock—and will help trim away pounds. A 3.5-ounce serving of grass-fed beef has only 2.4 grams of fat, compared with 16.3 grams for conventionally raised beef. In fact, grass-fed beef is so much more nutritious than commodity beef that it’s almost a different food.

Grass-fed beef contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat while building lean muscle. It also has more omega-3s and less omega-6s than corn-fed beef. It’s the same with chickens. According to a recent study in the journal Poultry Science, free-range chickens have significantly more omega-3s than grain-fed chickens, less harmful fat, and fewer calories than grain-fed varieties. This is important because omega-3s improve your mood, boost your metabolism, sharpen your brain, and help you lose weight.

6. Environmentally Sustainable Fish Choosing seafood these days isn’t easy. Some species (swordfish, farmed salmon) contain obesity-promoting pollutants (dioxins, PCBs). Others are fattened with soy, which lowers their levels of healthy omega-3s. In fact, the American Heart Association recently urged people who are concerned about heart disease to avoid eating tilapia for just that reason. Wow. That goes against conventional wisdom, doesn’t it?

So what kind of fish should you eat, and how can the New American Diet help? Generally, small, oily ocean fish (herring, mackerel, sardines) are low in toxins and score highest in omega-3s. Wild Alaskan salmon, Pacific Halibut, Rainbow Trout, and Yellowfin tuna are generally low in toxins and high in nutrients. And then there are fish that we should avoid at all times: farmed (or “Atlantic”) salmon, farmed tilapia, Atlantic cod, Chilean Sea Bass, and farmed shrimp.

7. Raspberries and Other Berries A recent study by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine discovered that after eating a high-carb, high-sugar meal, free radicals (rogue molecules produced when your body breaks down food) attack the neurons that tell us when we’re full. The result: It’s hard to judge when hunger is satisfied. Escape the cycle of overindulgence by eating foods that are rich in antioxidants. And berries top the charts.

The berries that give you the most antioxidant bang per bite, in order: cranberries, black currents, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates.

8. Instant OatsFiber  is the secret to losing weight without hunger. One U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that those who increased their daily fiber intake from 12 grams to 24 absorbed 90 fewer calories per day than those who ate the same amount of food but less fiber. Do nothing to your diet other than add more of the rough stuff, and you will lose nine pounds in a year, effortlessly.

Instant oats are one of the easiest ways to get more real fiber into your diet. Plus, new research indicates that oats can also cut your risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and even reduce your risk of weight gain. Oats also have 10 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving, so they deliver steady muscle-building energy. Choose oatmeal that contains whole oats and low sodium, like Uncle Sam Instant Oatmeal, which also has whole-grain wheat flakes and flaxseed.

9. Cruciferous Vegetables and Other Leafy GreensCruciferous vegetables —like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and bok choy—are all rich in folate, and the more folate you have in your diet, the lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, and depression. A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose 8.5 times more weight when dieting. Another stunner: New research shows that folate helps protect against damage from estrogenic chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA), which have been linked to obesity.

These veggies also rich in potassium. Researchers at the Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University, found that foods rich in potassium help preserve lean muscle mass. Click here to learn more about The New American Diet.


10. Apples and Other Fruit  What makes the apple so potent? In part, it’s because most of us eat the peel: It’s a great way to add more fiber and nutrients into your diet. But there’s a downside: The peel is where fruit tends to absorb and retain most of the pesticides they are exposed to, apples and peaches being the worst offenders. That’s why, for maximum weight-loss potential, we strongly recommend you buy organic versions of apples, pears, peaches, and other eat-the-peel fruits.

You’ll experience a terrific payoff if you do: In a UCLA study, normal-weight people reported eating, on average, two servings of fruit and 12 grams (g) of fiber a day; those who were overweight had just one serving and 9 g. Credit that extra 3 g fiber—the amount in one single apple or orange—as the difference maker.

11. Navy Beans and Other Legumes Study after study reveals that bean eaters live longer and weigh less. One study showed that people who eat 3/4 cup of beans daily weigh 6.6 pounds less than those who don’t eat beans. Another study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who eat one and a half servings of beans a day (3/4 cup) have lower blood pressure and smaller waist sizes than those who skip beans in favor of other proteins. Imagine each bean you eat is a perfect little weight-loss pill. Gobble ‘em up!

12. Dark Chocolate A new study from Denmark found that those who eat dark chocolate consume 15 percent fewer calories at their next meal and are less interested in fatty, salty, and sugary foods. And research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, decrease the risk of blood clots, and increase blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which is associated with improved mood and greater concentration; it’s rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and it contains theobromine, a stimulant that delivers a different kind of buzz, sans the jitters.

13. Ice Cream and Other Healthy DessertsCalcium-rich desserts  like ice cream bind to fatty acids in the digestive tract, blocking their absorption. In one study, participants who ate 1,735 mg of calcium from low-fat dairy products (about as much as in five 8-ounce glasses of milk) blocked the equivalent of 85 calories a day. Plus, half a cup of vanilla ice cream gives you 19 milligrams of choline, which translates to protection from cancer, heart attack, stroke, and dementia. We’re not suggesting you have a bowlful of ice cream every night. But a scoop (the size of a tennis ball) every few days isn’t the diet-saboteur it’s made out to be.

Caveat: Tricked-out designer ice creams are packed with added sugar and preservatives. Pick a single flavor ice cream—vanilla, chocolate, coffee, whatever.

14. Enzymes and Probiotics (Yogurt)Probiotics and enzymes, those friendly bacteria found in yogurt, may be the key to losing those last stubborn inches around your waist. They not only help the digestive system work properly, but also have a profound effect on the metabolism, according to a new study in Molecular Systems Biology. The bacteria Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus can change how much fat is available for the body to absorb by influencing stomach acids during digestion.

But not all yogurts are probiotic, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Other foods containing probiotics include kefir, acidophilus milk, miso soup, soft cheeses, pickles, and sauerkraut.

15. Tea and Other Healthy Beverages Nearly 25 percent of our calories—about 450 calories a day—come from sodas, sweetened teas, and the like. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, if you swap just one of those sodas a day for water or unsweetened tea or coffee, you’ll lose 2.5 pounds each month.

In fact, cutting down on liquid calories has a bigger impact than cutting down on calories from foods, according researchers from Johns Hopkins. Instead of sugary beverages, try green tea, which is high in the plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning. In one study, people who consumed the equivalent of three to five cups a day for 12 weeks decreased their body weight by 4.6 percent.

 Click here to learn more about The New American Diet.
http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/New_American_Diet_Superfoods/index.php?cm_mmc=ABSNL-_-2010_10_25-_-HTML-_-dek
© 2010 Rodale Inc. | MensHealth.com

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The 12 Best Smoothie Ingredients



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You can boost your brain, build muscle, burn fat, and help your heart in less than one minute: Just mix up a smoothie and slurp. It’s that simple—if you include these dozen add-ins that not only pack health benefits, but also make your shake taste even better.
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Peanut Butter

Packed with protein, manganese, and niacin, peanuts can help stave offheart disease and, when eaten in moderation, promoteweight loss.
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Fat-Free Milk

All the calcium and protein, none of the fat.
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Blueberries

The huge amounts of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, in blueberries have been shown to slow brain decline and reverse memory loss.
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Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt

A cache of calcium and digestion-aiding probiotics in every scoop.
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Raspberries

An antioxidant powerhouse bursting with fiber, manganese, and vitamin C, these berries will keep your heart and brain in top shape.
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Fat-Free Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Calcium, phosphorus, and none of the guilt.
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Pineapple-Orange Juice

OJ has vitamin C, and pineapples contain bromelain, a cancer-inhibiting, inflammation-reducing enzyme.
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Cherries

In addition to their vitamin C and fiber content, cherries have been linked to reducing arthritis pain.
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Bananas

Heavy on potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6, bananas do wonders for your heart and provide good carbs to keep you full and energized. 
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Whey Protein

Its essential amino acids help pack on the muscle—making whey the best friend of athletes and gym rats.
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Frozen Mangoes

To their stock of vitamins A and C, mangoes add a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which helps prevent cancer and promotes healthy skin.
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Ice

A little H2O never hurt anyone.

More from MensHealth.com
50+ Delicious Smoothies
Get Our Smoothie Selector iPhone App
Pick the Best Fruit

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10 Forgotten Muscle Building Foods



Ahh, the lean bulking diet; say what you want about the merits of trying to add pounds of muscle without adding a single ounce of extra bodyfat, but as a nutritional consultant I can tell you one thing: some of these lean bulking diets are the most meticulous and repetitive things the world has ever seen.
Now, I’m all for having a food preparation routine; it makes things simple and convenient, and it’s much easier to track results and avoid falling off the wagon when you know exactly what you’re eating at every meal.
The problem with this is, guys get stuck in such a routine that they don’t have any variety, and may even be missing out on a lot of nutrients–not to mention calories–that can contribute to their health and growth.
As bodybuilding friendly as it may appear to be, a diet based on egg whites, chicken breasts, brown rice and broccoli does not meet your needs, I can assure you of that. While it may be a “clean” diet, it is most certainly not an optimal one.
Bodybuilders weren’t always this damn boring. There are many foods that old-school lifters used to swear by for gaining mass that their contemporaries seem to have forgotten or cast aside, mainly due to piss-poor nutrition recommendations and a foolish fear of saturated fat.
Today, I’m going to revive some of those foods, with the hope it inspires you to make some changes in your own diet; changes that could result in you adding some mass that may have eluded you on your ultra “clean” diet.

Full Fat Grass-fed Dairy

While I’m definitely not a big fan of conventional dairy due to poor production, poor quality, loss of important fatty acids, and high estrogen content, dairy from pasture-raised grass-fed cows is an entirely different animal.
Since these cows are actually allowed to eat what they were designed to eat, their milk quality is vastly superior — containing more actual nutrition like vitamin A, vitamin K (in the more powerful form of K2), omega-3’s, and CLA. In fact, grass-fed cows have been found to contain up to 500% more CLA than their conventionally fed brethren!
Now you’ll also notice that all of those compounds are either fatty acids or fat-soluble vitamins. That’s right, many of the benefits of dairy come from its fat content, regardless of the fact that it is mainly saturated.
Scoff all you want, but these are incredibly important differences. CLA has been shown to be a powerful ally in the fight against cancer, and has been found to greatly reduce tumor growth in animals, and possibly in humans as well.
In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet had a 60% lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Simply switching from conventionally raised grain-fed meat and dairy to pasture-raised grass-fed versions would have placed all the women in the lowest risk category.
The best part may be vitamin K (in the form of K2-MK4). Several studies have found that a higher vitamin K2 intake is associated with a lower risk of heart attack, ischemic stroke, cancer incidence, cancer mortality and overall mortality. Men with the highest vitamin K2 consumption had a 51% lower risk of heart attack mortality and a 26% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to men consuming the lowest amount!
One of the ways vitamin K2 improves cardiovascular health is its ability to decrease arterial calcification by 30-40%. And this only speaks to vitamin K2’s effects of cardiovascular health; it’s also crucially important for proper fetal development and bone health, to name a few additional benefits.
One final note that I think will speak to many of you, beyond the health benefits —muscular growth. Researchers compared skim milk to whole milk in the post-training period, to see which would produce greater anabolic effects. They pitted 14oz of skim milk against 8oz of whole milk, to make them calorically equal. Theoretically, the results should be even or in the favor of skim milk, since it had six more grams of protein. The research showed that whole milk was more effective than skim, despite lesser protein content and equal total calories. Another notch in favor of whole-fat over fat-free.
So, for those of you busting your ass to gain some size, why in the world would you choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options? You’re trying to sneak calories into your diet, not out of it! Full-fat versions, especially from grass-fed cows, are vastly superior for health, and for growth.
There are several companies that are available nationwide that provide high quality milk from grass-fed cows, like Organic Valley and Whole Foods 365 brand. To find about a company near you, or to see if your current organic milk stacks up, check out this report from the Cornucopia Institute.
While I’ve gone to great lengths to trumpet the value of full-fat, grass-fed dairy in general, here are some specific food recommendations:

Whole milk

Whole milk used to be a staple of the old-school bodybuilding crowd, and was successfully used by innumerable men in the quest for more mass. It provides a lot of easily consumed calories, a nice blend of whey and casein, as well as a good dose of electrolytes — calcium, potassium, magnesium and some sodium. It also offers a good source of vitamin A, vitamin D, and a few B vitamins to boot.

Full fat cheeses — Cheddar, Cottage, etc.

These are also very high in calories, especially cheddar cheese. Cheddar cheese is one of the best sources of vitamin K2 due to the fermentation process, as well as providing relatively even amounts of protein and fat without any carbs. Cottage cheese is an incredible source of protein, and the full-fat versions are again more calorie dense.

Cream

Cream, especially the heavy whipping kind, is extraordinarily calorie dense. This can be a great addition to smoothies as it improves mouth-feel, flavor, and just provides a ton of calories.

Misunderstood Carbs

There are many fantastic carbohydrate sources out there that seem to have fallen off most bodybuilder’s radars. Two perfect examples are potatoes, replaced by sweet potatoes, and wild rice, replaced by brown.
Now those replacements are fine foods, but are they really any better than the foods they’re substituted for? Not really.

White Potatoes

White potatoes have gotten a bad rap recently, mainly due to their high glycemic index, which is higher than the more celebrated sweet potato. But really, who cares? You aren’t eating a white potato all by its lonesome, so that T-bone and steamed veggies with it, along with the pastured butter inside it, will slow its digestion anyway, making that point rather irrelevant.
All the talk about garbage white potatoes and saintly sweet potatoes has been taken a little far. Sweet potatoes are awesome, but white potatoes have more iron, magnesium and potassium than sweet potatoes, and they’re one of the most satiating foods on the planet.
They pack a lot of calories into a small package, were a staple of the old-school crowd, and have helped thousands of lifters pack on some serious mass. They’re also a good source of 12 vitamins and minerals, and provide 7 g of both fiber and complete protein in each large one.

Wild Rice

Wild rice has become a barely spoken word in bodybuilding and even health-conscious circles these days. Is brown rice actually any better? They’re both good sources of 8 vitamins and minerals; wild has 3 g of fiber and 7 g of protein in 1 cooked cup, while brown has 4 g of fiber and 5 g of protein. Does anybody see a significant difference there? I would say wild is every bit as good, plus offers a nice change to the palate for your much-neglected taste buds. And really, did a little variety ever hurt anyone?

Old School Protein

Be honest, how much do you really enjoy eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts multiple meals per day, every day? While a fine food, there are so many other great protein sources out there that have been largely forgotten with the explosion in consumption of said chicken breasts.
These sources have micronutrients, fatty acids, and more that chicken breasts don’t have, and they just bring some more flavor and variety, as well as calories to help spur growth. You might even enjoy eating meat again.

Whole Chicken

Many old-school bodybuilders used to absolutely crush whole chickens. Whole chickens, whole milk, and potatoes were the name of the game, and they certainly worked. So why do we just eat plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts today?
I’ll grant you that they’re very convenient, easy to prepare, go with just about anything, and can last for several days precooked in the fridge (or up to a week for the more daring). But in terms of price per calorie, whole chickens are crazy cheap, provide more total calories and taste loads better. What’s not to love?

Turkey

Breasts, thighs or the whole damn thing. Turkey is a vastly underappreciated meat that arrives in spades come Thanksgiving, but then goes virtually unnoticed the rest of the year. Turkey is a fantastic protein source, a good source of 11 vitamins and minerals, including being an excellent source of the cancer-fighting selenium. Plus, it’s just a nice change of pace from eating chicken all the damn time.

Tuna

Tuna was once a dietary staple, though it seems to have gone the way of the dodo lately. No one talks about it, and even less seem to eat it. It’s no longer the pretty girl at the dance, having been replaced by the sexier salmon. Though salmon does have more omega-3’s, and that powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, tuna is no slouch.
It’s a better protein source, contains over 1 gram of omega-3’s per can (amount varies by type), and is a good source of 7 vitamins and minerals. It’s also an incredible source of selenium, containing over 3 times the amount in turkey! Finally, it’s one of the absolute cheapest protein sources around, though I would recommend the light variety, due to the marked decrease in its mercury content.

Whole eggs

Eggs do seem to be making a comeback of late, but I can’t tell you how many guys I know who are trying to gain weight and are still knocking back cartons of egg whites. Two whole eggs with six egg whites don’t even come close to the caloric or nutritional powerhouse of five whole eggs.
Whole eggs contain the brain-boosting and anti-inflammatory choline, lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health, vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, iodine for proper thyroid function and more. Whole eggs are one of nature’s greatest foods, so why are you only eating the damn whites? If you still think that saturated fat and cholesterol contribute to heart disease — wait, no one still really believes that, do they?
If you can get access to pasture-raised eggs, their nutrient content is vastly superior, with 4-6 times the vitamin D content, 3 times the omega-3 content, and 8 times the beta-carotene content.

Pork Chops

Pork chops were something I remember growing up with, and yet they seem to have largely disappeared from the American Diet, probably due to the late 80’s/early 90’s fear of fat. While pork chops do contain more fat than chicken or turkey, again, who cares? The majority of the fat is in the form of the monounsaturated oleic acid, just like in olive oil, and they’re a good source of 10 vitamins and minerals.
Chops are also an excellent source of several B vitamins, as well as the brain-boosting and anti-inflammatory choline. Plus they’re tasty, which isn’t a crime, no matter what the guys eating six meals a day out of Tupperware might tell you.

Off To The Grocery Store

Consistency is key to any successful bodybuilding plan, but that doesn’t mean you should try to live off of a mere dozen or so “clean” foods. There are plenty of tasty, nutritious foods that can help you pack in some serious calories and nutrients while providing some much-needed variety to your palate.
Chicken breasts, brown rice, broccoli, and egg whites are all fine foods, but they aren’t your only choices — and especially not day in, day out. Give some of these forgotten foods a shot; what have you got to lose?

References:
Leheska JM, Thompson LD, Howe JC, et al.  Effects of conventional and grass-feeding systems on the nutrient composition of beef.  J Anim Sci. 2008 Dec;86(12):3575-85.
Ponnampalam EN, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ.  Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health.  Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):21-9.
Dhiman TR, Anand GR, et al.  Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.  J Dairy Sci.  1999;82(10):2146-56.
Aro A, Mannisto S, Salminen I, et al.  Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women.  2000;38(2): 151-157.
Elwood PC, Strain JJ, Robson PJ, et al.  Milk consumption, stroke, and heart attack risk: evidence from the Caerphilly cohort of older men.  J Epidemiol Community Health.  2005;59:502-505
Elwood PC, Pickering JE, Hughes J, Fehily AM, Ness AR.  Milk drinking, ischaemic heart disease and ischaemic stroke II. Evidence from cohort studies.  Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;58(5):718-24.
Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al.  Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study.  J Nutr.  2004 Nov;134:3100-3105.
Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, et al.  A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease.  Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis.  2009 Sep;19(7):504-10.
Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Kaaks R, Linseisen J.  Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg).  Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1348-58.
Spronk HM, Soute BA, Schurgers LJ, et al.  Tissue-specific utilization of menaquinone-4 results in the prevention of arterial calcification in warfarin-treated rats.  J Vasc Res. 2003 Nov-Dec;40(6):531-7.
Elliot TA, Cree MG, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR, Tipton KD.  Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Apr;38(4):667-74.
Pork chops are a tasty alternative to the chicken-fish-beef trifecta.

Pork chops are a tasty alternative to the chicken-fish-beef trifecta.

Commercial dairy may be suspect, but full fat, grass fed dairy should    be a bodybuilding staple.

Commercial dairy may be suspect, but full fat, grass fed dairy should be a bodybuilding staple.

A lean, powerful physique requires a variety of nutrient-dense food.

A lean, powerful physique requires a variety of nutrient-dense food.

Full fat (grass fed) milk has more muscle building bang for the buck    than fat free versions.

Full fat (grass fed) milk has more muscle building bang for the buck than fat free versions.

A classic turkey shot!

A classic turkey shot!
About the Author

Brian St. Pierre

Brian St. Pierre is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He received his degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a focus in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the same institution. He was the Nutritionist and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA for 3 years. He is also the author of the Show and Go Nutrition Guide, the accompanying nutrition manual to Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training System.
With his passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. For more information you can check out his website.

© 1998 — 2010 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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Transform Comfort Food into Muscle-Building Fuel


By: Maureen Callahan, M.S., R.D.
It’s a battle royale, with cheese. In one corner of your mind, there’s the satisfaction of that trim, hard body you’ve built. In the other, there’s the hamburger—juicy, tasty, covered with a blanket of melted Cheddar. Or maybe your struggle is against nachos. Or crispy fish and chips. Or pizza. Hard to believe there ever was a time when mankind could be seduced by an apple, isn’t it?

To avoid temptation, you could wire your refrigerator to deliver a shock every time you open the door. Or you could continue eating pizza, nachos, burgers—all of your favorite comfort foods—without guilt. It can be done. With a few easy tweaks, just about any food can be transformed into good stuff that satisfies your nutritional needs, your tastebuds, and even your nostalgic cravings. Make your comfort foods this way and you’ll have our blessing to pig out.

Burger
What’s so bad?: Ground beef is shot through with fat, and that white-bread bun offers little but rapidly digested simple sugars.

Make it better: Start with extra-lean ground beef—if you don’t overcook it, it’ll taste great. Chop up some onions and thawed frozen spinach and mix them into the beef. The vegetables add vitamins and replace some of the moisture lost when you switched to leaner ground beef. Better yet, build those burgers with grass-fed beef or lean ground buffalo, at roughly 4 grams (g) of fat per 4 ounces. Researchers at Purdue University found that wild game and grass-fed meats have higher levels of good-for-the-brain and good-for-the-heart omega-3 fatty acids. Top it all off with a whole-wheat bun for some fiber.

You lose: 6 g saturated fat

You gain: Allicin, 47 micrograms (mcg) beta-carotene, 5 g fiber

Breakfast Sausage-and-Egg Biscuit
What’s so bad?: The sausage patty is fatty (about 10 g per puck), and the biscuit is nearly devoid of nutrition yet contains 8 g fat.

Make it better: Do this yourself—it takes 3 minutes, about the time you’d sit in the drive-thru lane. Beat an egg in a small bowl and nuke it for 1 to 2 minutes. Top it with warmed-up Canadian bacon—a great precooked source of lean protein with only 2 g fat—and slide it into a whole-wheat English muffin. And have it with a glass of grapefruit juice (good luck finding that at McDonald’s) instead of OJ. Drinking grapefruit juice before a meal helps decrease insulin levels and promote weight loss, according to research from the Scripps Clinic in San Diego.

You lose: 4 g saturated fat

You gain: 6 g protein, 4 g fiber, 94 milligrams (mg) vitamin C

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
What’s so bad?: The 18 g saturated fat you take in from the butter and slabs of oily cheese. And the white bread is pointless.

Make it better: Use whole-wheat bread with part-skim mozzarella in between. Crisp it in a skillet moistened with a little olive oil. Losing the finger-licking buttery bliss is worth it. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that an olive oil-rich diet can drop your chances of dying of cancer or heart disease by 23 percent. To protect your prostate, add a couple of lycopene-packed tomato slices. Likely to work late? Throw in a slice or two of lean ham. That will jack up the protein count, keeping your appetite in check.

You lose: 10 g saturated fat

You gain: 11 g protein, 5 g fiber, 1,000 mcg lycopene

Pizza
What’s so bad?: Oil-pooling pepperoni, to start. Then a huge calorie count that comes mainly from simple carbs and saturated fat.

Make it better: Opt for a thin crust (fewer refined-flour carbs), use half the cheese, and replace the pepperoni or sausage with chicken breast, a lean protein that has just 1 g fat per ounce. (A little barbecue sauce is okay. Great, in fact.) The chicken gives you more muscle-building protein and a ratio of protein to fat that better satisfies the appetite. Add some sliced onions and peppers to rack up a little fiber and some immune-boosting allicin.

You lose: 10 g saturated fat

You gain: Allicin, fiber, twice the protein

Fish and Chips
What’s so bad?: There’s fat everywhere—the breaded and fried fish, the greasy potatoes, and the creamy coleslaw.

Make it better: You love the crunchy crispiness, right? Try pan-seared salmon—it’ll crisp up real nice—for a healthy dose of cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fats and a potential brain boost. A new UCLA study on mice suggests that DHA, one of the fats found in high levels in fish like salmon, helps repair memory damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Roasted potato wedges sprayed with a little olive oil are infinitely better than fat-soaked fried “chips.” Grab a bag of finely chopped coleslaw makings at the grocery store and use either low-fat mayonnaise or, better yet, a tangy vinegar-and-oil dressing.

You lose: 8 g saturated fat

You gain: 4 g omega-3 fats

Nachos
What’s so bad?: Just 13 ordinary corn chips contains 120 calories and 6 g fat, and you haven’t yet ladled on the electric-orange cheese product, the greasy spiced hamburger mixture, or the sour cream. Do that and you’re hoisting 26 g saturated fat into your mouth. Add thirst-inducing pickled jalapeño-pepper slices and you’re getting a day’s worth of sodium in this 1,129-calorie pile.

Make it better: Start with baked corn chips (less fat), add cooked pinto beans for fiber, and use reduced-fat sharp Cheddar and lean ground round. Top with cancer-fighting diced tomatoes (for lycopene) and diced fresh jalapeño pepper—it has no added salt but still delivers plenty of kick. The whole concoction is leaner, tastier, and way better for you. Go ahead, have some more.

You lose: 677 calories, 22 g saturated fat, 2,500 mg sodium

You gain: 14 g fiber, 2,300 mcg lycopene

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