5 Foods You Gotta Eat to Grow
Pass on the plain chicken again. Here are the fab 5 foods you should eat every day for explosive muscle growth.
Why you need it: Bodybuilders are notorious for being cautious about carbs. So when you do eat them, make sure you choose only the most nutritionally charged of the bunch like whole-grain quinoa. Native to South America and historically noted to have been the main power food for the ancient Incan armies, quinoa contains a full complement of essential amino acids, making it a rare complete-protein source for vegetarians. Its nutritionally rich résumé includes impressive amounts of folate, fat-fighting fiber and magnesium, a mineral shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can reduce fat gain and keep diabetes at bay. Compared to refined grains such as white pasta or white rice, quinoa digests slower, providing more sustained energy and less risk of fat storage.
Extra credit: Quinoa cooks up in less than half the time as brown rice, making it an ideal edible when you need a meal fast. Most large supermarkets now carry this grain, or try your local bulk store for some cost savings.
Eat up: To prepare quinoa, place 1 cup of the grain in a medium-sized saucepan along with 2 cups of water or reduced-sodium broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 12 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed. Serve as a side dish to bison or sablefish.
Dark Leafy Greens
Why you need them: Whether it’s kale, Swiss chard, collard greens or spinach, dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. For the few calories they contain, they have an encyclopedic vitamin, mineral and/or antioxidant profile. The process of rebuilding spent muscles requires a huge number of these micronutrients and antioxidants, making it all the more important to live and eat as green as possible. Leafy greens are also stellar sources of natural nitrites, which increase levels of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to working muscles and, in turn, makes balls-out training seem less taxing.
Extra credit: Leafy greens are a leading source of vitamin C, an antioxidant involved in the production of carnitine. Carnitine is required for proper fat oxidation.
Eat up: To create the perfect bodybuilding meal, serve 6 ounces of sablefish or bison, 1 cup cooked quinoa and 2 cups lightly steamed dark leafy greens. Add a little healthy fat such as extra-virgin olive oil or avocado to the greens to help your body absorb their fat-soluble antioxidants.