Category Archives: Muscle Building Foods
Ten foods to prevent and stop diabetes
(NaturalNews) Diabetes is a disorder wherein the body cannot control its level of blood glucose or sugar. While many of the foods today contain high levels of diabetes-inducing sugar, there are ten amazingly healthy foods that can actually prevent diabetes from developing. Not only do these foods control blood sugar levels, but they are also packed with other nutrients and minerals that even those who do not have diabetes will benefit greatly from.
Preventing Diabetes through Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle of exercise to maintain a normal weight is a sure-fire way to prevent diabetes type 2 or adult-onset diabetes. This is according to research as well as diabetes educators from the Healthcare and Education for the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Christine Tobin, the president of Healthcare and Education for the ADA, said that, while there are a whole list of foods that can be considered as “superfoods” in terms of diabetes-prevention, her association recognizes the top ten of these foods that can help those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These foods contain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C and E. These foods are also rich in fiber, which helps in suppressing cravings by keeping the blood sugar and the glycemic index low for longer periods. On top of that, these foods also control blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, keeping them at healthy levels.
These are all very important to those with diabetes, but even normal people can benefit from these foods too:
Black, pinto, navy, kidney or other beans might be high in calories, but they are also rich in fiber and other nutrients. Rich in fiber means that they will help people feel full for longer periods.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, kale and others are not only high in nutrients but also low in carbohydrates. Greens are also very low in calories, so people can eat as much of them as they as want!
Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits are good for the heart because of their high content of vitamin C. Whole fruits are better than juices, since the fruit contains the fiber, which slows down the body’s absorption of sugar.
Sweet potatoes are better than other types of potatoes, because they have a low glycemic index. This means that sweet potatoes will not cause blood sugar levels to spike. They are also high in vitamin A.
Fresh, whole strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and any other variants are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Add fresh berries into salads or cereal, or make into smoothies.
Tomatoes can be eaten either raw or cooked, and they are low in calories too. They can be served in a variety of ways, as side dishes, mixed in salads and soups or as a base sauce for casseroles or stews. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins E and C and iron.
Salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, herring and halibut are all rich in omega-3, a kind of fatty acid that strengthens the heart and prevents diabetes. The best way to enjoy these fishes and their benefits is to serve them broiled or in soups. Frying them in batter and breading defeats the purpose.
Oatmeal, pearled barley and other whole grain products, like bread and pasta, all contain high amounts of fiber. They also contain essential nutrients like chromium, magnesium, omega-3 and folate.
Nuts are high in omega-3 and other good fatty acids. These kinds of fats protect and help the heart rather than burden it. However, one should not eat too much, as they are high in calories. A small handful, or roughly 1.5 ounces, is enough for a healthy snack.
Fat-Free Yogurt and Milk
Both are rich in calcium and vitamin D and are also good choices to help keep cravings under control.
It is quite easy to lose control and to splurge on food, but a good choice would be to splurge on these ten healthy foods rather than on sweets like chocolate.
Sources for this article include:
(NaturalNews) A flat stomach is a quest that has remained elusive for many people all over the world. Dieters often shy away from food to keep their slim figures. Food experts, however, have discovered several foods that actually help flatten the stomach.
These 20 foods help burn the fat away to reveal a sexy, flat tummy:
Green tea stimulates the body’s metabolism and can also suppress the absorption of fat. Drinking it daily aids in weight loss.
Olive oil has many benefits, but the main benefit is that it lowers LDL cholesterol – the “bad” cholesterol – and raises HDL cholesterol – the “good” cholesterol. It is also rich in phenol, an antioxidant that protects the walls of the arteries from cholesterol or fatty buildup.
Weight-watchers should reduce their intake of sugar, and that means soda pop, alcohol and most bottled or canned fruit drinks. Try drinking lemon water instead. It is refreshing and bursting with vitamin C as well.
This white meat is more meat and less fat, making it a good source of meat protein.
Cinnamon can prevent diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels. While it is packed with antioxidants, cinnamon can also prevent bloating.
Green Chai Tea
Chai tea is full of flavor from the spices but without the guilty calories. Homemade chai will also give healthier milk choices, and the addition of green tea will speed up the body’s metabolic rate.
Cucumbers are a great refreshing and crunchy snack. They are satisfying and low in calories.
Cereal is high in calories. Replacing it with bran will not only cut the excess calories but will also increase the body’s supply of fiber.
Yogurt is rich in protein, with three quarters of a cup serving 9 grams of it. Not only that, but yogurt is also rich in B vitamins and bone-strengthening calcium.
Legumes are a generally nutritious food packed with protein, B vitamins, potassium, iron and other trace minerals. Legumes are also a great source of insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps control optimum blood cholesterol levels. Legumes are ideal for dieters, since it is heavy on the stomach and controls cravings by controlling the body’s levels of blood glucose.
Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant. Turmeric also has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anti-cancer and antibacterial properties.
This whole grain is a wonderful alternative to other grains. Rich in protein, fiber, copper, B vitamins, magnesium and manganese.
Pears are incredibly rich in fiber, so much that a medium-sized pear can give 20% of a person’s daily need. The juicy flesh contains soluble fiber and pectin, which lowers the “bad” cholesterol previously mentioned.
Eating dark chocolate more frequently results in a lower body mass index, according to studies. As an added bonus, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, too.
Juicy, succulent berries are rich in fiber and vitamins. They are also home to some of the most powerful antioxidants in foods, which helps protect the heart and eyes and helps fight off cancer.
Leeks are rich in manganese, which is an essential mineral that was found to prevent mood swings and menstrual cramps in women who took high amounts of it regularly. Not only that, leeks also help prevent and relieve bloating.
Salmons of all kinds are rich in heart-friendly omega-3, as well as vitamin D. Bones in canned or processed salmon are also rich in calcium.
Miso has probiotics that aid in digestion and keep the colon and intestinal walls healthy.
Research by the Rochester Center for Obesity found that those who regularly eat eggs for breakfast tend to take in less calories throughout the day – by around 400 or more. This translates to at least three pounds less in weight in a month.
Leafy green vegetables contain carotenoids, which prevent degenerative eye disease. Spinach alone is rich in vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. Greens are also rich in magnesium, potassium and folate, which lowers blood pressure.
These foods are great, not just because they aid in weight loss and burning fat, but also because they strengthen the body in many ways.
Sources for this article include:
Top 25 healthy muscle building foods
by John McKiernan
(NaturalNews) So many of us are concerned with staying trim and fit by eating right and doing cardiovascular workouts that we overlook the importance of building and maintaining muscle mass through diet and exercise. Having a lean and muscular physique provides many benefits. One of the most important is that muscle tissue burns through calories, even while at rest. This in turn increases the metabolism and boosts energy levels all day long, while keeping the body trim. Muscles also help burn the fat stores in the areas around them. This is why simple muscle building exercises like squats and pushups are just as important for fat loss as cardiovascular exercises.
With that said, diet is of even greater importance when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass. Most bodybuilders and fitness models will tell you that their training program, in terms of importance, comes down to about seventy percent diet and thirty percent exercise. These professionals know there are certain foods that are rich in protein and have high concentrations of essential amino acids, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, enzymes and other nutrients, all of which are crucial in supporting protein synthesis and and maintaining a muscular build. The foods listed below are known to be among the most essential for muscle development.
Top 25 healthy muscle building foods
1. Water – although this one isn’t actually a food it certainly is the most important item on this list, as muscle tissue is comprised of over 75 percent water
2. Whey protein concentrate – the most complete amino acid profile among any food
3. Pea protein powder – a very complete protein source; great for vegans
4. Free range organic eggs – next to whey protein, contains the highest concentration of essential amino acids
5. Raw milk – a protein and vitamin rich food known for its muscle building properties
6. Bison – higher in protein than beef and are not confined to feedlots
7. Free range organic chicken breast – rich in glutamine and other essential amino acids
8. Grass fed organic beef – grass fed beef is much higher in CLA, which aids in body composition
9. Fish – wild salmon and tilapia are among the best; avoid tuna due to high mercury levels
10. Turkey – a very lean protein source
11. Nuts – walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds are among the best
12. Oysters – great for naturally boosting testosterone levels
13. Beans – a very slow digesting carbohydrate high in zinc and fiber
14. Oats – steel cut are best but old fashioned work too; avoid quick oats
15. Peanut butter – high in healthy fats and protein and low in carbohydrates
16. Cottage cheese – very low in sugar and high in protein
17. Yogurt – Greek yogurt is best
18. Bananas – a potassium and vitamin rich food
19. Avocados – very rich in unsaturated fatty acids
20. Healthy oils – olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, hemp oil, flax seed oil as well as others
21. Spinach– other green leafy vegetables offer similar benefits
22. Broccoli – a superfood vegetable; others include tomatoes, kale, cauliflower and bok choy
23. Berries – high in antioxidants and many other vitamins necessary for muscle growth
24. Quinoa and brown rice – both are rich in B vitamins and slow digesting
25. Apples and other fruit – high in fiber which cleanses the system and allows for better nutrient absorption
As always, purchase organic or local items when possible to avoid toxins and get more nutrients out of your foods. It’s also important to limit alcohol consumption as it retards muscle growth. By consuming these foods regularly along with weekly muscle building exercises you will see a substantial increase in muscle tone and overall health.
Sources for this article include:
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) What is a happy belly? Well, an unhappy belly will produce flatulence, bloating, nausea, cramps, and so called heartburn. You should be able to digest foods without any hassles, providing you don’t overeat. That’s a happy belly.
Considering that digestion begins in the mouth, it’s wise to chew your food thoroughly. In addition to reducing the food into smaller, easier to digest pieces, the saliva from chewing produces more digestive enzymes early in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
It’s also important to take your time and relax while eating. Rushed eating while stressed or hassled in any way will result in digestive stress that can create a very unhappy belly while depriving you of the food’s nutritional value.
Foods and beverages to help your belly’s happiness
As usual, organic food sources are the best choices. If you can purchase reliably clean raw milk for milk kefir, do so. Always use purified fluoride-free water.
Reverse osmosis is the best accessible system. Stations are available for filling containers in larger food markets. Make sure to re-mineralize with sea salt or some other mineral solution.
(1) Fermented foods provide probiotics that aid digestion and more. Having an intestinal flora microbial balance of 80 percent to 20 percent healthy bacteria to pathogenic bacteria is vital for even more than good digestion. It’s an important part of our immune system.
Without a well balanced intestinal flora stocked heavily with an abundance of healthy bacteria, Candida overgrowth is given a nice breeding ground. (http://www.naturalnews.com)
Fermented foods include sauerkraut, yogurt (unflavored and unsweetened) kimchi, miso, pickles, and tempeh or fermented soy, which is the only soy that’s consumable without digestive issues.
You can always add good honey or maple syrup to plain yogurts. Yes, you can make your own sauerkraut. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034788_sauerkraut_probiotics_recipes.html)
If you can get a good sourdough bread baked with sprouted grains without using bromide, that’s good for making your belly happy too. Sourdough is fermented. Sprouted grains reduce gluten’s harmful effects. Bromides block the enzyme that helps your thyroid produce adequate hormones for metabolism.
(2) Probiotic beverages can be as potent as some probiotic supplements, and a lot cheaper. Kombucha is a popular item that offers the same probiotic potential as fermented foods. Even more powerful are water and milk kefirs. You need starter grains specific to either purified water or milk, best to find raw milk.
Then you can make your own. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036419_probiotics_immunity_bacteria.html)
A woman who cured her really bad case of colitis with milk kefir showed this author how to make it. She didn’t even use raw milk, which is recommended. Here’s a good source for milk kefir starter grains with excellent instructions. (http://kefirlady.com/)
There are also several DIY kefir YouTube videos online.
(3) Prebiotic foods are essential for helping the healthy bacteria from probiotics flourish. They don’t contain healthy probiotic bacteria, but they provide the food energy to help probiotics maintain a GI tract stronghold.
Bananas, berries, artichokes, garlic, honey, legumes (beans) and whole grains such as brown rice are good prebiotic food sources.
(4) Apple cider vinegar is regarded as an excellent digestive aid by many alternative practitioners and nutritionists, but not so much by MDs and mainstream dieticians.
Us an apple cider vinegar that has not been pasteurized or filtered for best results. Before each meal, one or two tablespoons downed in a half glass of water can be beneficial. Water with meals should be room temperature for optimum digestion.
(5) When your stomach becomes unhappy, stay away from the Tums and try something healthier. Ginger root is one such choice. Only a few dare chew on a ginger root. It’s usually converted into a tea by peeling the root and cutting it into thin slices.
Make enough thin slices to cover the bottom of a pan, fill the pan with good non-fluoridated water from reverse osmosis. Simmer for 30 minutes after boiling. It can be refrigerated for several days. Ginger has been known to remedy queasy or cramping stomachs, and it’s good for general inflammation as well.
(6)The king of natural GI tract and stomach disorders is Aloe vera juice. Aloe vera juice needs to be shopped wisely. The cheap adulterated ones with preservatives or pasteurized stuff won’t cut it. Get only pure, whole unpasteurized aloe vera juice. Yes it’s pricier, but worth it.
Stomach ulcer sufferers swear by it. There have been many, many reports of Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease sufferers curing themselves with aloe vera juice, as well as some experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
With a disease as intense as Celiac, Crohn’s or IBS, it takes several days to a few weeks of daily use to get results. (http://www.naturalnews.com/021858_aloe_vera_gel.html#ixzz25fIbagIM)
Pure aloe vera juice has many, many other curative capabilities and health benefits. It has been clinically tested successfully on AIDS and cancer patients. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034738_aloe_vera_cancer_AIDS.html)
5 High-Calorie Breakfasts for More Muscle
If you’ve been less than successful in your pursuit to get bigger and stronger, the answer could be you simply need more calories. Not crappy calories either; clean, nutrient dense calories, as I’m assuming your goal is to get muscular, not fat.
It all starts with breakfast. Eat the right breakfast and you’ll be on track for the rest of the day. That’s what I’m going to help you with today.
When size and strength are the goal, I’ll go with a higher carbohydrate approach. If fat gain and insulin sensitivity become an issue, I’ll change the types of carbs and begin to drop them.
The macronutrient breakdown that I like to start with is 40/30/30 (carbs/pro/fat). This isn’t high carbs by many standards but with my low carb preference, 40% of calories from carbs is 50-100% greater than the maintenance level for most clients.
The next step is distribution of calories and carbohydrates, including types of carbohydrates. As a rule I keep meal size the same during the day and just modify the types of calories that make up those meals.
Here’s how to break it down concerning carbohydrate type. If you work out in the morning, use this model:
- Meal 1: Starchy carbs & fruits/vegetables
- Meal 2: Workout nutrition
- Meal 3: Starchy carbs & fruits/vegetables
- Meal 4: Starchy carbs & fruits/vegetables
- Meal 5: Vegetables & legumes
- Meal 6: Vegetables & legumes
If you work out in the evening, use this model:
- Meal 1: Starchy carbs & fruits/vegetables
- Meal 2: Vegetables & legumes
- Meal 3: Vegetables & legumes
- Meal 4: Workout nutrition
- Meal 5: Starchy carbs & fruits/vegetables
- Meal 6: Starchy carbs & fruits/vegetables
As you can see, regardless of when you work out, you need a hefty dose of starchy carbs first thing in the morning. I do this for two reasons.
1. Restore Glycogen Levels
The graphic below shows that glycogen stores are relatively depleted first thing in the morning due to your overnight fast. If you’re in a hypertrophy phase, you’ll hopefully be getting an even longer night sleep, which means they could be even more depleted.
2. Counteract Cortisol
A hefty dose of starchy carbs will lead to a larger secretion of insulin. As shown below, cortisol levels follow a circadian rhythm, meaning cortisol levels will be higher in the morning. Insulin counteracts cortisol, and the slightly increased insulin sensitivity in the morning compared to the evening makes first thing in the morning a strategic time to fight cortisol with insulin.
Putting Your Plan into Action
Theory and strategy are nice but let’s put it into action. Below you’ll find five nutrient-dense breakfasts ranging from 850-1000 calories each. They’re all approximately 40/30/30 and will help you get your daily pursuit for size and strength off on the right foot.
Red Pepper & Turkey Bacon Omelet
- 3 omega-3 eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 1 slice cheddar cheese
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 roasted red bell pepper, diced
- 3 slices turkey bacon, chopped
- 2 slices Ezekiel bread
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
How to Prepare: Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Mix eggs and egg whites together in a bowl. Add egg mixture to pan and let cook, occasionally lifting with a spatula so that the uncooked portion of the egg mixture will be exposed to the pan.
Once egg mixture is solidified (but not necessarily completely cooked through), add scallions, turkey bacon, red pepper, and cheese. Fold omelet in half on top of itself; reduce heat, and let cook for 1-2 more minutes. While eggs are cooking, toast the Ezekiel bread. Combine blueberries and strawberries together in a bowl. Eat the omelet and sprouted grain bread with the bowl of fruit salad.
- 2/3 cup vanilla almond crunch Bear Naked Granola
- 1 2/3 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 1 scoop Banana Metabolic Drive® Low Carb
- 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds
- 1 banana, sliced
How to Prepare: Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and drink. For a thicker shake add more ice or less water. For a thinner shake, add more water or less ice.
Hardgainer Breakfast Blender Bomb
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3 scoops Vanilla Metabolic Drive® Low Carb
- 1 medium diced apple
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Splenda
- 2-3 cups water
- 4 ice cubes
How to Prepare: Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and drink. For a thicker shake add more ice or less water. For a thinner shake, add more water or less ice.
Spinach & Black Bean Breakfast Tacos
- 2 omega-3 eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 3 oz spinach (1/2 a bag of prewashed baby spinach)
- 3 Tbsp. salsa
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1/2 cup low sodium canned black beans, rinsed
- 4 small Al Fresco chicken sausage links
- 4 corn tortillas
How to Prepare: Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add spinach, salsa, chicken sausage, scallions, and black beans. Once the spinach has wilted, set the mixture aside in a small bowl. Next, mix egg and egg whites together in a bowl. Coat the frying pan again with nonstick spray, add egg mixture to pan, let cook, scrambling with spatula.
Once eggs have scrambled but are still a little watery, add black bean/spinach mixture and shredded cheese. Mix and combine until the cheese has melted. While eggs are cooking, wrap corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20-30 seconds. Eat the black bean and spinach scramble with corn tortillas as tacos.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3 Tbsp. dried cranberries, unsweetened
- 1/4 cup almonds, sliced
- 2 scoops Vanilla Metabolic Drive® Low Carb
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
How to Prepare: Combine almond milk, oats, and cranberries in a bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Stir and let sit for 1 minute. Mix in Metabolic Drive®, heavy cream, and almonds.
Without question, the pre, mid, and post workout window are critical periods for gaining muscle mass, but it’s breakfast that sets you on the fast track to Hypertophytown.
Give a few of these quick and easy recipes a shot and see why your Grandma always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
By: Scott Quill
The guy lifting beside you looks like he should write the book on muscle. Talks like it, too. He’s worked out since the seventh grade, he played D-1 football, and he’s big.
But that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about. Starting now, ignore him.
The gym is infested with bad information. Lies that start with well-intentioned gym teachers trickle down to students who become coaches, trainers, or know-it-all gym-rat preachers. Lies morph into myths that endure because we don’t ask questions, for fear of looking stupid.
Scientists, on the other hand, gladly look stupid—that’s why they’re so darn smart. Plus, they have cool human-performance laboratories where they can prove or disprove theories and myths.
Here’s what top exercise scientists and expert trainers have to say about the crap that’s passed around in gyms. Listen up and learn. Then go ahead, question it.
Slow Lifting Builds Huge Muscles
Lifting super slowly produces superlong workouts—and that’s it. University of Alabama researchers recently studied two groups of lifters doing a 29-minute workout. One group performed exercises using a 5-second up phase and a 10-second down phase, the other a more traditional approach of 1 second up and 1 second down. The faster group burned 71 percent more calories and lifted 250 percent more weight than the superslow lifters.
The real expert says: “The best increases in strength are achieved by doing the up phase as rapidly as possible,” says Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., the lead study author. “Lower the weight more slowly and under control.” There’s greater potential for growth during the lowering phase, and when you lower with control, there’s less chance of injury.
More Protein Builds More Muscle
To a point, sure. But put down the shake for a sec. Protein promotes the muscle-building process, called protein synthesis, “but you don’t need exorbitant amounts to do this,” says John Ivy, Ph.D., coauthor of Nutrient Timing.
If you’re working out hard, consuming more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Excess protein breaks down into amino acids and nitrogen, which are either excreted or converted into carbohydrates and stored.
The real expert says: More important is when you consume protein, and that you have the right balance of carbohydrates with it. Have a postworkout shake of three parts carbohydrates and one part protein.
Eat a meal several hours later, and then reverse that ratio in your snack after another few hours, says Ivy. “This will keep protein synthesis going by maintaining high amino acid concentrations in the blood.”
Squats Kill Your Knees
And cotton swabs are dangerous when you push them too far into your ears. It’s a matter of knowing what you’re doing.
A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that “open-chain” exercises—those in which a single joint is activated, such as the leg extension—are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves—those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat and the leg press.
The study found that leg extensions activate your quadriceps muscles slightly independently of each other, and just a 5-millisecond difference in activation causes uneven compression between the patella (kneecap) and thighbone, says Anki Stensdotter, the lead study author.
The real expert says: “The knee joint is controlled by the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Balanced muscle activity keeps the patella in place and appears to be more easily attained in closed-chain exercises,” says Stensdotter.
To squat safely, hold your back as upright as possible and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or at least as far as you can go without discomfort in your knees).
Try front squats if you find yourself leaning forward. Although it’s a more advanced move, the weight rests on the fronts of your shoulders, helping to keep your back upright, Stensdotter says.
Never Exercise a Sore Muscle
Before you skip that workout, determine how sore you really are. “If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it’s best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest,” says Alan Mikesky, Ph.D., director of the human performance and biomechanics laboratory at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
In less severe instances, an “active rest” involving light aerobic activity and stretching, and even light lifting, can help alleviate some of the soreness. “Light activity stimulates bloodflow through the muscles, which removes waste products to help in the repair process,” says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.
The real expert says: If you’re not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that’s no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says Docherty.
Stretching Prevents Injuries
Maybe if you’re a figure skater. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed more than 350 studies and articles examining the relationship between stretching and injuries and concluded that stretching during a warmup has little effect on injury prevention.
“Stretching increases flexibility, but most injuries occur within the normal range of motion,” says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., one of the study’s researchers. “Stretching and warming up have just gone together for decades. It’s simply what’s done, and it hasn’t been approached through rigorous science.”
The real expert says: Warming up is what prevents injury, by slowly increasing your bloodflow and giving your muscles a chance to prepare for the upcoming activity. To this end, Dr. Gilchrist suggests a thorough warmup, as well as conditioning for your particular sport.
Of course, flexibility is a good thing. If you need to increase yours so it’s in the normal range (touching your toes without bending your knees, for instance), do your stretching when your muscles are already warm.
Use Swiss Balls, Not Benches
Don’t abandon your trusty bench for exercises like the chest press and shoulder press if your goal is strength and size. “The reason people are using the ball and getting gains is because they’re weak as kittens to begin with,” says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S. You have to reduce the weight in order to press on a Swiss ball, and this means you get less out of the exercise, he says.
The real expert says: A Swiss ball is great for variety, but center your chest and shoulder routines on exercises that are performed on a stable surface, Ballantyne says. Then use the ball to work your abs.
Always Use Free Weights
Sometimes machines can build muscle better—for instance, when you need to isolate specific muscles after an injury, or when you’re too inexperienced to perform a free-weight exercise.
If you can’t complete a pullup, you won’t build your back muscles. So do lat pulldowns to develop strength in this range of motion, says Greg Haff, Ph.D., director of the strength research laboratory at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
The real expert says: “Initially, novice athletes will see benefits with either machines or free weights, but as you become more trained, free weights should make up the major portion of your training program,” says Haff.
Free-weight exercises mimic athletic moves and generally activate more muscle mass. If you’re a seasoned lifter, free weights are your best tools to build strength or burn fat.
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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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 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 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?
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.
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?
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 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.
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 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.
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?