The most important things I know about building muscle were learned through my experiences, however, some things need to be absorbed/introduced through reading to be fully understood. I’ve put together what I view as the “holy grail” of muscle building information sources. Check them out and feel free to discuss anything with me through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Muscle growth—and we’re talking giant leaps in size—should be a lot easier for most bodybuilders. After all, hyperspeed hypertrophy has happened in the lab multiple times thanks to precise scientific applications. For example, there’s the animal study that triggered a 300 percent increase in muscle mass in only one month with a specific type of overload (more on that coming up).”
“Choose your lifestyle goal, enter your bodyweight and other info, and it tells you how much protein to take in each day!”
“I’m talking to you, hardgainer. I see you there, beating your head against the wall, trying to force your muscles to grow. A bunch of forum posters somewhere led you to believe it was as easy as: lift big, eat big, and get big. Unfortunately, these are old, outdated concepts that, in the long-term, only work for genetic freaks. And you, my friend, are not a freak.”
“Your core consists of dozens of muscles that perform multiple tasks, including holding you upright and protecting your vital organs. Strengthen your core with these 3 workouts!”
“This training program is akin to what a bodybuilder would do in the last few weeks before a contest. It covers the entire body but gives special priority to your abs—you’ll work them first in every session. “
“DTP stands for Dramatic Transformation Principle. It’s a combination of reps, weights, and workout techniques that will radically alter your physique. Give Kris four weeks, and he’ll give you more muscle. You will get bigger. You will get stronger.”
“You’ve been under the bar for a while, but you’re a little disappointed—you haven’t built the size or achieved the shape you so desperately want. Your chest could be wider. Your back could be thicker. You could have more defined shoulder caps and a sharper biceps peak. What you need, my friend, are some tweaks.
Strength and size training have many similarities, but there are some particular things you can do to get the most from your hypertrophy workouts. Try these eight tips to build muscle, shape, and density.”
“Neil Hill stresses that nutrition is the key to success for any and every athlete. In the early years of bodybuilding, he didn’t realize the importance of a sound diet. Neil had a healthy appetite, but didn’t put a lot of emphasis into the “healthy” aspect. It wasn’t until he started researching what successful bodybuilders ate, that he discovered it did in fact matter what he put into his body. That was an important lesson in quality versus quantity, although the quantity definitely had its place too.”
“Gaining size is simple. Heck, people do it all the time. They order a few pizzas for lunch, stop going to the gym, and drive their car from the garage to the mailbox and back.
But gaining quality size–muscle mass, not fat–is another matter entirely. While many methods can work, they must all conform to known principles in order to be considered valid.
Here then are my five top principles for optimal hypertrophy development. (Hypertrophy, for those who don’t know, is muscle growth.) Employ these principles, and hypertrophy will inevitably result. Ignore them, and your progress will stall just as inevitably”
“The first blow has been struck in the cinematic battle of the superhero movies, as Marvel finally brought one of its biggest franchises to the screen in the shape ofThor. Sworn to defend the innocent, the Norse God of Thunder uses his mighty hammer in the service of his divine powers.
From the looks of his on-screen physique, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth lifted some heavy metal of his own before picking up his character’s trademark hammer.
Well, yes and no.
Until this role came along, Hemsworth hoisted little more than his surfboard overhead. His workouts consisted of hitting the waves in Orange County or doing old-school rugby drills (suicides, stair climbs, etc.), boxing, and Muay Thai, a combat sport. There always has to be some scrapping. He is Australian after all.
Hemsworth’s training was formerly designed to build speed, agility, and fitness, says his trainer, Steve Walsh, a fellow Limerick man and former professional rugby player. The implication–Hemsworth had enough muscle as it was, thank you.”
“It is pretty safe to say that everyone wants to have a muscular, lean physique. Getting that muscular physique is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. With all of the differentbulking programs out there it is easy to become lost and confused as to what is the correct way to gain muscle. To help with that confusion I am going to list my “Top 10 Rules Of Successful Clean Bulking” These rules are the main principles and keys to a successful bulking program and apply to anyone who is looking to gain muscle.”
“ Weight Training: “More Is Not Better”
That quote is perfect for all hardgainers who are actively involved in weight training.
The first mistake I see with all hardgainers is their weight training, because they are not seeing the results as quickly as they would like is that they usually fall into the trap ofovertraining. They spend too much time in the gym doing countless sets and reps in the hope this will lead to better muscle gains.
The reality is that heavy compound lifts in the 4-8 rep ranges should make up the majority of all hardgainers working sets. Your goal in the gym is to maximize strength gain in each workout while always maintaining perfect form.
Using compound exercises like this is going to be best for maximizing the total work that’s been performed as they will stimulate the most muscle fibers during a single lift.
Isolation exercise should not be a part of your workout program as they only focus on one muscle at a time, leading to far less than optimal results. Below is a sample 3-day workout program for a hardgainer. Be sure to take at least one day off between each workout.”
“Today I want to share with you some quality advice on how to gain weight. Now I caution you that this is for the really skinny guy looking to really gain weight because they barely have any meat on their bones. I know what it is like when you feel like you eat all the time and have nothing to show for it. I have been there. I also understand the feelings that you feel when people start to resent you because you can eat whatever you want and not ever gain a pound. They don’t realize that to skinny guys, this is a curse more than it is a blessing at times.
However I also despise people saying that they have ‘tried everything but nothing works’. This is the biggest lie that you need to stop telling yourself. You may have tried a couple of things but trust me, you just haven’t tried the right things yet. Here are 9 tips that will help you to start to gain weight in no time at all. These are tips I have personally used and I guarantee they will work for you.
Here are my top 9 Tips to Gain Weight:”
“If you’re a beginner just getting started on a muscle-building plan, you’re likely feeling slightly intimidated. Starting a new activity of any type can seem a bit scary at times, and since there are so many different exercises to perform in a weight training program, this only adds to the intensity that you’re feeling.
Luckily for you, if you’re equipped with some basic knowledge, you’ll be in the perfect position to get going. The great news is that as a beginner you will experience results at an accelerated level and will notice differences in how you feel and look in as little as a few weeks.”
“Imagine discovering that you’ve only been training half your muscles’ growth capacity, and with one small tweak, you could transform your physique – maybe double your size results!
Exciting new muscle-building research suggests that’s entirely possible: You can boost your size gains exponentially with one training twist, and it’s somethingArnold was doing instinctively in his prime to build ultimate mass and dominate bodybuilding.
First – and you probably know this part already – if you’re looking for muscle mass, you want to train the anaerobic muscle fibers, the fast-twitch type-2s. What you may not know is that there are many fast-twitch subtypes. So which ones should we emphasize for extreme muscle size?”
“Nothing motivates change more than seeing others who’ve done it themselves. Before and after photos have a certain power that is beyond words, so we’ll put ours right up front…
Jonathan made one of the most remarkable muscle-morphing changes back in the ’90s, adding 20 pounds of muscle in only 10 weeks (the first two photos above). He continued to refine his physique with various techniques, some of which we’ll discuss in his story below, but first here are Steve’s photos…
Steve had a longer transformation time, trying in vain to discover the correct way to train to add muscle to his rail-thin frame. It took a while, but he finally found the right ingredients, many of which you can use to get huge-or at least a lot bigger. Let’s start with Steve’s story, as much of what Jonathan achieved was a direct result of what Steve learned, as you’ll see…”
“Strip away the layers of striated muscle draped over massive IFBB pros such as Silvio Samuel and what you’ll notice is that the size of his actual muscle fibers due to protein content really aren’t that much larger than your own.
Muscle fiber size has been investigated in research studies that compared the muscle composition of elite bodybuilders and athletes with that of regular, healthy individuals.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger’s high volume workout routine. This routine was featured in a 1991 issue of Muscle Mag.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Bench press – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
Flat bench flies – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
Incline bench press – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Cable crossovers – 6 sets, 10-12 reps
Dips – 5 sets, to failure
Dumbbell pullovers – 5 sets, 10-12 reps
Front wide-grip chin-ups – 6 sets, to failure
T-bar rows – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
Seated pulley rows – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
One-arm dumbbell rows – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
Straight-leg deadlifts – 6 sets, 15 reps
Squats – 6 sets, 8-12 reps
Leg presses – 6 sets, 8-12 reps
Leg extensions – 6 sets, 12-15 reps
Leg curls – 6 sets, 10-12 reps
Barbell lunges – 5 sets, 15 reps
Standing calf raises -10 sets, 10 reps
Seated calf raises – 8 sets, 15 reps
One-legged calf raises (holding dumbbells) – 6 sets,12 reps
Wrist curls (forearms on knees) – 4 sets, 10 reps
Reverse barbell curls – 4 sets, 8 reps
Wright roller machine – to failure
Nonstop instinct training for 30 minutes
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Barbell curls – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Seated dumbbell curls – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Dumbbell concentration curls – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Close-grip bench presses (for the all three heads) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Pushdowns (exterior head) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Barbell French presses (interior head) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
One-arm dumbbell triceps extensions (exterior head) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Seated barbell presses – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Lateral raises (standing) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Rear-delt lateral raises – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
Cable lateral raises – 5 sets, 10-12 reps
Calves and Forearms:
Same as Monday, Wednesday and Friday Abs:
Same as Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
“There’s no doubt that getting fit and strong requires a lot of hard work, but work is only part of the equation. A goal without a plan, as one famous writer put it, is just a wish. To put this in gym terms, if you just throw some weights around and copy what you see other people doing, you won’t get results.
The movements you choose in the weight room become your biggest fitness investment, after your gym fees. Think of them as exactly that: an investment. Each movement represents a value in time you spend in the gym—and not doing something else—make sure your time is spent on something worthwhile.
Much of the reason that strength training can be intimidating is that there is so much information. Some of it is straight-up misinformation; a lot is OK information that is geared toward someone with different goals and priorities than you. Where should you begin? What should and shouldn’t you be doing? No matter what results you have in mind, you need to find your answers to these questions.
To maximize your training, you need a program—and no, your body part split isn’t a program. A program is a structured plan that will strategically and purposefully help you reach your goals, leaving you on a different level than when you started. Even experienced lifters can benefit from having a better program. Programming is a must for relative novices looking to get serious and experience their first strength breakthroughs.
Is this news to you? If so, get ready for a course in the fundamentals of strength training programming. I’m going to break down the major components of a lifting program and explain how they correlate with specific goals, so you can choose the program that works for you—not for someone else.
I offer a simple, yet effective 8-week program that helps you to build a foundation of muscular strength that can help you get closer to your strength and fitness goals, no matter what they are. Try it if your gym time has been haphazard up to this point, or if you feel like you’ve gotten away from the fundamentals and need a whole-body refresher course.”
“The human body is a complex collection of tissues, chemical compounds and nutrients. To maximize results in the gym, you must understand how all of those combine to make muscles grow. From the labs of Yale to the pages of Muscle & Fitness, I’ve spent my entire career studying how to accumulate knowledge and then apply it in the gym for unreal gains.
My 12-Week “Shortcut to Size” distills everything I’ve learned about muscle growth into one program. It’s science-backed, gym-tested and Jim-approved for men and women, beginner and advanced. If you want to build muscle and strength, this program is for you.
The key to the program is periodization, a method that involves changing up your training at specific times to maximize results. You begin with light weights for high reps and progressively change to heavier weights and lower reps. Continued cycling of those rep ranges keeps muscles confused, so they don’t stagnate, and you keep making progress as you go through each of the three phases. The end result is an athlete who is both stronger and more muscular.
A typical periodization program switches every 4-to-6 weeks. The problem is, your body adapts more quickly than that! This program changes rep ranges and weight every week, a period called a “microcycle”—a week period where you stick with the same weight and rep range.”
Nutrition is the most important aspect when it comes to being healthy and in shape. By eating lean protein, complex carbs, veggies and healthy fats you will provide your body and mind with the proper nutrients it needs.
By staying away from fast foods, sugary sweets, and anything with hydrogenated oils, you look and feel better.
Motivation is key! My Motivation comes from a deep love for weights and to see how far I can push myself everyday in the weight room. I want to be the best I can genetically be. As healthy and as strong and lean as possible.
I sometimes have to remind myself not to overdo it. As I’ve gotten older I realized how important recovery is. Ultimately I want to be the next Steve Reeves.
I want a body that is appealing to the masses. My goal is to have the perfect balance of size, shape and symmetry.
While good quality supplements can make a difference (especially when dieting) they aren’t an excuse to have poor nutrition and sleep habits.
By taking the right supplements for your goals and in the right amount, one can achieve results faster than without supplementing. It’s important to know exactly what you are putting into your body.
Follow the instructions…just because some is good doesn’t mean more is better!”
“The “Sleeping Giant” workout program simply delivers amazing results. Don’t let the name fool you. Your waking hours now will be enjoyed with the body of your dreams.
The key is properly combining diet, exercise and sleep. With these three elements working in concert, your body will be stimulated into growth mode; it will be fueled for major gains; and the hormone cascade that comes from proper sleep will roar its approval.
I’ve been perfecting this for more than 20 years and have sought out and trained with the best. I have now transformed hundreds of people with this method, including Big John McCarthy, James Maslow (Big Time Rush), Brendan Fehr (Roswell, CSI Miami, Bones) and Jason Dohring (Ringer, Moonlight, Veronica Mars).
So are you ready? Consider this your wake-up call, sleeping giant. It’s time to wake up and grow.”
“When training to build muscle, Brain Stann eats like a horse mainly because he’s working like one, and needs a lot of nutrient dense foods to keep him properly fueled. He lives and breathes all aspects of his fighting career and does everything he can to build explosive muscle to be stronger, faster and more powerful than his opponent. If you want the muscles it takes to defeat your foe, check out Brian’s personal muscle building plan.”
“Scott Dorn’s approach to muscle building is based on a progressive overload basis where he forces his muscles to grow by continually increasing the level of stress that he places on them with each workout.
Like a skilled carpenter, he has assembled all of the best muscle building tools to construct a strong fitness foundation.
Check out Scott’s personal muscle building plan and learn the tricks of the trade.”
Eat like Kris to see results! Download Kris’s daily meal plan and grocery shopping list.
There is no magic pill but supplements may help support your transformation so you can get fast results.
Join the Transformation Nation and get the support you need by joining the largest online fitness community.
“Your 12-Week Daily Bulking Trainer
Bodybuilding.com presents your 12-Week Daily Bulking Trainer! Day by day, we’ll help you build lean mass and forge a ripped, defined physique. You’ll learn about setting goals, training for extreme muscle growth, following a proper nutrition plan, bulking supplementation and staying motivated. All the knowledge you need to succeed is at your fingertips.”
“The Incredible Hulk
First and foremost the Hulk would start the day, like any good dedicated bodybuilder with a good hearty breakfast, 100 egg whites to get a good protein buzz and put his body into a positive nitrogen balance, along with 20,000 grams ofoatmeal. He would then bounce his way to the local gym where he would begin his weekly workout plan with some lat pulldowns.
Using two warm-up sets and 4 working sets with rep ranges between 6-and-8 with 10,000 pounds for that true mass-building feel. Once warmed up he would then move onto the next exercise, the hardcore bodybuilders favorite, bent over rows, again keeping the reps down to 6′s and 8′s using upwards of 20 – 25,000 lbs to remain in that mass-building zone.
Then to finish his incredible back workout, he would move onto one-arm rows, where he used his purpose built dumbbells weighing in at 15,000 pounds each.
I heard a rumor from bodybuilding paparazzi Isaac Hinds (who allegedly did a photo shoot during one of these workouts, and we are yet to see the pics – what’s the deal with that Isaac?) that written on the dumbbells was “Hulks Weights” just to let Jay Cutler know who exactly was throwing around this type of poundage!
Post workout – to prevent muscle breakdown from excelling past muscle synthesis, Hulk took full advantage of the “window of opportunity” by consuming 5 lbs of his favorite whey protein mixed with 2 gallons of water and 1 lb of creatine andglutamine - he likes them creamy!
Following his muscle-building protein surge, Hulk would then move onto his favorite hibachi steak house where he would have 10 pounds of filet steak, 2 pounds of steamed rice and 3 pounds of steamed broccoli (to maintain his green complexion).
He then returned to his home where he would consume another protein shake, but this time it was a slow release shake with a combination of whey, soy, and casein. Following this he would have his mid-afternoon power nap, all in the aid of increasing recovery to maximize his bodybuilding gains.
“Hulk need roughage, Hulk need lots broccoli, Hulk like protein for big muscle.”
I kind of understood what he was saying because there were a few guys in myschool that spoke in a similar fashion, they were on the chess team (we all know that us muscle heads are far more intellectually superior and can easily conjugate sentences with big words like “marmalade” and know what they mean).
Anyway, after finishing his chicken feast, Hulk would prepare for his second workout of the day focusing on a smaller muscle group.
For his resistance training portion of the workout his main focus was on the cardiosession where he would perform 45 minutes of intervals, to maximize body fat oxidation.
Post workout – a 5-pound portion of protein was consumed along with the creatine and glutamine, and the day would end with two more chickens and cows before sleeping until the following day where the cycle would be repeated.
The Hulk’s Mass-Building Workout
Below is an outline of Hulk’s mass-building workout, including reps and poundages. But remember that this is “The Incredible Hulk” and the weight used may not be suitable for mere mortal men, unless you have been affected by some kind of gamma ray and you turn into a huge angry green man, and if that is the case more power to ya. I won’t make you angry by telling you not to do anything!”
—What I am, the stuff I went through and what I’ve grown to become. Yup, this post got it all. I apologize in advance for any incoherent ranting – I’ll probably edit this post later on to improve on it.This post will give a brief summary on my training history, for whoever gives a damn.Some random points I’d like to make beforehand:* I’ve never touched any drugs that may be considered performance enhancing, besides ephedrine/ephedra, back when that was legal and easily obtained in various supplements.* The pics here aren’t the best and poses certainly aren’t ideal for comparisons. Some numbers might be a bit off as well. However, I pieced it together to the best of my ability and tried to make a brief, descriptive summary on what I was doing during each phase.
* New readers would be best served to read the this interview to get a grasp on what the hell I’m talking about with regards to intermittent fasting and all that hoopla.
Starting out: age 16-18
“You’re so lean, you must have one of those ectomorph genes”
I hear that one too often these days. Well, this is me before I put my foot in the gym and started paying attention to what I ate – there’s not a iota of skinny boy genes in my dna, trust me on that one. I was fat throughout most of my teens and when first stepped into a gym, I was close to 225 lbs of blubber. Ectomorph genes, my ass.
So I started pushing some weight, leaned down a bit and gained some muscle. It was clear from the start that I wasn’t a prodigy when it came to lifting weights either, despite my size. I remember starting off with about 75 lbs bench presses, 135 lbs squats and about 175 lbs deads. One key thing here is that I started off with the basics, and didn’t waste too much time on working chest, abs and arms like my friends did. I was also consistent, and sought to constantly improve myself and learn the nuts and bolts of the iron game. This would turn out to pay off in a few years.
I don’t have any good pics from this phase, but I basically looked like a slightly leaner and more muscular version of the above picture on the beach. I looked big in clothes, fat with my shirt off, and I wasn’t very pleased with my appearance either way. So I decided to go on a diet.
The modeling days: age 19-22
Fast forward a few years and this is me at about 165 lbs. At 19 I started dieting, lost weight, gathered attention from a model agency and then won a nationwide competition that sent me off to Milan. I think I was about 175 lbs when they first sent me down there, but few weeks later I dropped weight quick down to 165 lbs…and then 160 lbs at my lowest point throughout these 3 years, during which I worked full time as model in several different countries. It was a great experience, but these years were basically spent overexercising and overtraining. I was in various states of leanness, but I don’t think I gained a iota of muscle during this time period of my life.
Starting over again: age 22-24
So I quit modeling and decided to come home and resume my studies. I started working out again, gained back some mass and ditched the semi-anorectic look. I’m about 182-184 lbs in the above picture.
Discovering Intermittent Fasting: age 24-now
I’ve outlined the reasons for embarking on the intermittent fasting regime in this interview. The short story of it all was that I was basically sick of the obsessiveness with nutrition, meal timing in particular, that seemed to follow me wherever I went. I was becoming a social pariah, and I didn’t think that, for all the energy I put into it, the obsessiveness provided me with anything else than misery and anxiety whenever I missed a meal. Maybe some of you can relate to this or maybe you have a more relaxed attitude towards bodybuilding nutrition than I had back then; if so, I salute your ability to keep a relaxed attitude towards this crucial aspect of the iron game. I sure as hell couldn’t. The above picture is pretty much representative of how I looked when I first started the IF regime on June 2006; about 182-184 lbs, 9-10% bf or so.
Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Summer Cut
The below picture is the result of the cut I did that summer, using an IF regime for the first time; 175-177 lbs and 5.5% bf.
For the first time in my life I was pretty damn satisfied with the results of a diet – I actually kept all my strength, while simultaneously keeping all my strength, something I had thought was just a pipe dream when cutting to the low single digits of body fat. This spurred me on to continue the IF experiment and go on a bulk in August 2006.
Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Autumn Bulk
Before starting the IF bulk in August, I ate at maintenance calorie intake for about two weeks in order to stabilize my metabolism from the dieting stint; body weight settled at roughly 180 lbs. I then radically increased calorie intake, but stuck to the exact same meal frequency and meal timing as before; 3 big meals, eaten any time within 8 hours during the day, followed by a fasted phase with no food intake that lasted 16 hours in duration. I stayed flexible with regards to the 16/8 meal schedule – some days the feeding phase would be shorter, some days longer. I sure as hell wasn’t going back to my old obsessive behaviour about timing meals perfectly.
The above picture is the result of the bulk, which lasted approximately 3 months and added 20 lbs to my frame; I went from 180 lbs @ 6% bf to 200 lbs @ 9% bf. Some fat gain followed, but overall I was very pleased with my results.
The refinement of Intermittent Fasting: The Recomposition Protocol and the birth of Leangains
This is me as of today, liberal Christmas feasting included, and after a year of meticulous tweaking and learning from past experiences with the IF regimen.
194-196 lbs @ 5.5% bf.
2007 I’ve gone through various cycles of IF, where I manipulated various variables in order to achieve the result that is displayed above; I’ve done 3-4 week stints that were either hypocaloric, eucaloric or hypercaloric in nature, varying macronutrients and calorie status for each day respectively, in order to see what has worked best for me, applied that to my clients and see how it worked for them, and drawn conclusions based on that data.
I’m hoping to summarize all these points in my forthcoming book, which will tell you the ins and outs of how to use an intermittent fasting regime for either fat loss, lean muscle gains or both. When this book will be out is still a bit up in the air, but I’ve started the writing process. Lyle McDonald has expressed interest in co-writing it with me, but to be completely honest, I’m not sure where we stand on the collabo anymore – basically, we pissed each other off, which temporarily has put a halt to the project, at least in the form of the discussions between the two of us. We’ll see what happens though; the book will be released regardless. I’ll make sure of that.
So, that concludes my wrap up for 2007 and everything that was before. I’ll probably add some more stuff too this post later on, or at least try to make it more coherent.
Anyway, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Keep checking in on my blog in the future if you’re interested in some of my ideas; I’ve been slacking on updates lately, but I’m hoping to update on weekly, or at least bi-weekly, basis in 2008.”
“You can now tell how long it’s going to take you to get a six-pack AUTOMATICALLY just by plugging in your stats.
In a previous post entitled “How Long Does It Take To Get Six-Pack Abs” I told you how to work this out manually for yourself.
Now you don’t have to!
All you need to know is your current weight and body fat percentage. If you don’t know what your body fat percentage is, plug your stats into my ‘Body Fat Estimator’ in the sidebar of this site.
Before you find out, let me preface this by saying the following…
The calculation is based on the new fat-loss formula contained in the NEW Total Six-Pack Abs
It tells you when you will hit the 10% body fat barrier, which is the level of body fat you need to break to see your abs. If you want to get totally shredded, yes it will take you longer
There are 2 answers- Best Case & Worst Case
Go ahead and check it out before I explain a little more…”
“Are you starting a diet but still scratching your head at the grocery store when trying to choose healthy foods? Print this grocery list for use on your next trip to the grocery store.
Proteins - Learn More
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- Tuna (water packed)
- Fish (salmon, seabass, halibut)
- Extra Lean Ground Beef or Ground Round (92-96%) - Learn More
- Protein Powder - Learn More
- Egg Whites or Eggs - Learn More
- Ribeye Steaks or Roast
- Top Round Steaks or Roast (aka Stew Meat, London Broil, Stir Fry)
- Top Sirloin (aka Sirloin Top Butt)
- Beef Tenderloin (aka Filet, Filet Mignon)
- Top Loin (NY Strip Steak)
- Flank Steak (Sir Fry, Fajita)
- Eye of Round (Cube Meat, Stew Meat, Bottom Round , 96% LeandGround Round)
- Ground turkey, Turkey Breast Slices or cutlets (fresh meat, not deli cuts)
Complex Carbs - Learn More
- Oatmeal (Old Fashioned or Quick Oats)
- Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
- Beans (pinto, black, kidney)
- Oat Bran Cereal
- Brown Rice
- Farina (Cream of Wheat)
- Multigrain Hot Cereal
- Rice (white, jasmine, basmati, Arborio, wild)
- Potatoes (red, baking, new)
Fibrous Carbs - Learn More
- Green Leafy Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red, Leaf, Romaine)
- String Beans
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
Other Produce & Fruits - Learn More
- Green or Red Pepper
- Fruit (if acceptable on diet): bananas, apples, grapefruit, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
- Lemons or Limes
Healthy Fats - Learn More
- Natural Style Peanut Butter
- Olive Oil or Safflower Oil
- Nuts (peanuts, almonds
- Flaxseed Oil - Learn More
Dairy & Eggs
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low or Non-Fat Milk
- Bottled Water
Condiments & Misc.
- Fat Free Mayonnaise
- Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
- Reduced Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Chili powder
- Mrs. Dash
- Steak Sauce
- Sugar Free Maple Syrup
- Chili Paste
- Extracts (vanilla, almond, etc
- Low Sodium beef or chicken broth
- Plain or reduced sodium tomatoes sauce, puree, paste)”
“It was right there for the taking. After a 5-mile group run, I drove past my favorite takeout place. My stomach was craving—no, demanding—food. A lot of it. I had a recovery shake waiting for me at home, but this was so much faster. Besides, I deserved a reward for burning off almost 800 calories. What’s wrong with a tasty payoff for my commitment to health? I turned into the drive-thru lane.
My willpower had failed me. Yes, it had gotten me to my run on time, but it vanished when I needed it most. Any gains I’d made I gave right back. Why couldn’t I say no?
It turns out that willpower isn’t simply dense moral fiber. The latest science suggests it’s found in the soft gray matter of your frontal lobe, where good decisions are made and poor choices are rejected. Your willpower is tough. It helps you fight temptation, prevent binges, choose food wisely, and stay motivated. But it’s a finite resource. Nurture it, maintain it, and deploy it with this six-point plan.
Here’s a surprise: Your willpower runs on sugar. Like your muscles, your brain needs glucose to function at an optimal level, says Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., social psychology area director at Florida State University and coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.
In a series of nine studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Baumeister discovered that people with steady glucose levels were more persistent at attempting to complete an unsolvable task than those whose glucose levels declined during the experiments. “Increase your blood glucose and you can fuel your willpower,” he says.
Wait, put down the Skittles. Sure, glucose is easily available from straight sugar, but your body also creates it from fruit, many vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. You can even build glucose by pumping up your protein, says Baumeister. “It takes your body longer to make glucose from protein, but the benefits can last longer,” he says.
One problem is that weight-watching men often adopt extreme low-calorie diets. “If you starve yourself, you’ll have low glucose,” says Baumeister. And without sufficient glucose, your brain doesn’t have the fuel it needs to resist junk food. So if you feel your energy fading, don’t skip smart snacks, like nuts.
Scientists have a name for my drive-thru cave-in: compensation. It’s the inclination to reward yourself for a job well done, and that feeling can fight with your weight-loss intentions. In fact, the harder your workout is, the bigger you may think your compensation should be, says Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., director of the laboratory of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.
“When men endure a tough, hourlong workout or push through a 7-mile run, they feel a need to celebrate,” he says. “But a good workout is not carte blanche to eat whatever you want.”
The solution: Don’t rely on your willpower to deny yourself a well-earned treat. Instead, use it to ensure that your reward doesn’t outweigh the workout (literally).
“Do the math: If you burned off 700 calories, keep your food intake to less than that,” says Dr. Church. It’s a pat on the back that doesn’t wipe out your hard work. Or go with a nonfood reward: Buy yourself an iTunes download every time you work out, or treat yourself to basketball tickets when you rack up 10 training sessions.
Even well-fed willpower won’t resist all temptation. You’ll need to conserve your supply so it’s always there for you. A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology followed people’s reactions to enticements throughout the day. Oddly, people with the best self-control were the ones who used their willpower less often. Instead of fending off one temptation after another, they set up their daily lives to minimize them.
In other words, they played defense. “Look inside people’s fridges—they’re full of temptations,” says lead researcher Wilhelm Hofmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago. Leftover Chinese, Ben & Jerry’s, cans of Coke? Toss it all and don’t buy it again. There—now your willpower can get some rest at home.
Want to make smart choices? Go to bed early. “Willpower is lower when you’re sleepy,” says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist at Northwestern University who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine.
The average night owl consumes an additional 248 calories more each day than someone who goes to bed earlier, and most of those extra calories tend to be racked up after 8 p.m., according to 2011 research published in the journal Obesity.
Short night of sleep? Pour a cup of coffee and add a packet of real sugar—not Splenda or some other artificial sweetener. A 2010 Spanish study revealed that the combination of caffeine and sugar increased cognitive performance in the bilateral parietal cortex and left prefrontal cortex regions. These are two areas of the brain that support your ability to stay focused and goal-oriented when confronted with tempting distractions.
It’s easy to rationalize and convince yourself that one more plate of sliders won’t make a difference to your waistline. To fuel your resolve, try taking the opposite approach—tell yourself a tall tale. A University of Texas study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that exaggerating the number of calories in a favorite food—a tactic called “counteractive construal”—can help you override those temptations.
That hot, slender girl who recoils from pizza? She’s onto something. Overestimating the impact of a gut bomb can help establish a clear, direct link between “bad food” and “being out of shape.” Imagining that a cheeseburger contains 2,000 calories can prompt you to start picturing yourself with an extra 20 pounds. And that will help you say no.
When it comes to food lures, procrastination can be a good thing. Instead of simply saying no to that nacho platter, tell yourself you’ll eat it sometime in the future.
A study presented at this year’s annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that people who decided to postpone eating a bag of potato chips were more capable of resisting the temptation than people who simply tried to refrain altogether from eating the crunchy, salty snack.
While “no” only intensifies feelings of deprivation, “later” has a different effect: “Postponement weakens the desire at the precise time when peak desire overwhelms willpower,” says study author Nicole Mead, Ph.D., of the Rotterdam School of Management. It’s unrealistic to postpone all unhealthy foods and drinks, she says. Instead, pick one or two that tempt you the most and postpone those. Add more over time and you’ll reap even bigger results.”
“Low-carb diets seem to be king of the hill at the moment, but I’ve been hearing a lot about intermittent fasting lately. Which is a better fat-loss diet?
This is a great question. The two approaches are more similar on a biochemical level than most people would think. Both are low-insulin diets, meaning they provoke a minimal insulin response from your body. Both also qualify as demanding diets, because they’re in dead contrast with the way most people eat and can require a drastic change in eating habits and priorities.
Let’s break down the difference.
When someone talks about a low-carbohydrate diet it could mean a lot of different things. It could simple be a low-starch diet, or it could meet more specific parameters, such as less than 100 grams of carbs per day, or less than 50 grams of carbs per day.
For clarity and comparison, I’m going to talk about very low-carb diets (VLCD), which could also be called a ketogenic diet. This type of low-carb diet contains less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
The macronutrient breakdown of a ketogenic diet generally looks about like this:
- Carbohydrates: 10 percent or less of calories
- Protein: 25 percent of calories
- Fat: 65 percent of calories
In a VLCD like this, fats provide energy, because they don’t have the same hormonal impact as carbs. If anything, dietary fat can help accelerate the body switching from using carbs as a primary fuel source to using fat.
As you can see from the macronutrient breakdown, protein is slightly reduced from the traditional 30-40 percent often used by bodybuilders and dieters. This is because protein is insulinogenic and can interfere with the onset of ketosis, a state in which your body is cranking on fat as the primary fuel source.
However, even at this reduced level, the standard VLCD model provides adequate protein to preserve muscle tissue during weight training, while also stimulating protein synthesis throughout the day. This is one advantage that VLCD has over fasting.
When looking at total protein synthesis over the course of the day, you get a greater effect by spacing out your protein intake, as with a VLCD, as compared to eating a majority of your protein in one sitting, as is the norm with many intermittent fasting protocols.
Fasting has one potential over VLCD: It is connected with cellular autophagy. This is when your cells have to scavenge for fuel, and as a result they empty the cellular cupboards, consuming aging or damaged cellular parts and waste products. This “spring cleaning” process converts old cellular trash into amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
Autophagy is an important and necessary biological process which is accelerated by fasting. Even short-term fasts can spark cellular autophagy, though it’s not sure how many hours it takes for the process to begin for any given person. That said, the role and impact of fasting-induced autophagy on general health and fat loss has yet to be determined, so I honestly can’t point to any acute benefits it could provide.
I recommend my clients using a VLCD rather than fasting. My interpretation of the science is that due to the consistent, repeated stimulation of protein synthesis that you get with VLCD, it is a superior approach when looking at overall improvements in body composition. However, if executed properly, both these systems should result in similar fat loss. The key when choosing a VLCD or fasting is to decide which will enable you to execute most consistently and efficiently in your lifestyle.”
“Take a good, long look at that fast-food cheeseburger. Every item on it, from the bun to the sauce, was processed in a factory and created in a laboratory. It’s packed with enough artificial colors and preservatives to make it look as pretty as a picture.
But does it qualify as “eating clean?” Yeah, right. So what is clean eating? It doesn’t refer to washing the nectarine you bought on clearance at the fruit stand—though you should do that, too. It is taking the time to know what your food is made of, and choosing to eat it in its most natural state. Clean eating is about more than just getting lean; it’s about making choices that promote optimum long-term health for your body.
Getting clean might just mean tweaking what you’re doing now, or it might require you to turn over a whole new leaf. In either case, here are 10 solid rules to keep in mind while you consider the change.
1 / Approach Your Meals As A Lifestyle
Want to get serious? Then forget the D-word entirely. Clean eating is not a fat-loss diet. This is a lifestyle that you’re going to sustain from this day forward.
You don’t need to get obsessive or throw out everything you love. You’re allowed to enjoy your food—you’ll need to, if you want to be able to stick with this. So consider yourself warned: You might have to take this as your push to (finally!) learn how to cook for yourself.
What’s the other choice—leaving it up to the world to feed you? Forget it. Take control of your life, because once you fall off your clean-eating plan, you’ll revert back to feeling low in energy, hungry, and irritable multiple times every day.
2 / Load Up On Fresh Produce
No matter if you’re a carb-cutter, carb-loader, paleo warrior, or intermittent faster, your golden rule of clean eating should be to include as much fresh produce in your daily diet as possible.
Vegetables make every dietary system better and healthier. They provide the vitamins and nutrients to keep you feeling as good as you look, and the soluble fiber to make sure you suck every last bit of nutrition out of everything else you eat.
Think you can get all that from a simple greens supplement? You can try, but more than likely, you’ll find yourself using this expensive supp as an excuse to cheat when you get hungry later on. So get familiar with the best-tasting in-season fruits and vegetables (and the frozen ones in a pinch), and become a master of seasons and spices. Read recipes like they’re great literature and you’re on your way.
3 / Shop The Perimeter Of The Grocery Store
Every store is different, but as a general rule, the periphery is the natural habitat of the fresh vegetable, meat market, whole-grain baked goods, and the nuts and dried fruits in the bulk bin. Get comfortable here; it is now your territory.
You’ll probably have to venture into the interior for some staples like olive oil, but keep your blinders on. You’re entering a museum of extravagant packaging and manipulative slogans. Few of the items you see in the store’s interior promote good health; it’s a stretch to call most of it “food.”
The perimeter is also usually the home of the dairy case and the beer and wine display, so stay strong. Of course, if these are your biggest offenses, you could do a lot worse.
4 / Eliminate Added Sugars
Generally speaking, eating right isn’t about avoiding anything in particular. It’s about choosing simple, unrefined things and enjoying them. But if you feel more comfortable having an enemy, then fine: Declare war on sugar.
Foods in their most natural state do not contain added sugar—that’s why it’s called “added sugar.” Fruit can still be your friend, but in the case of sweeteners that have been mixed into your food during the manufacturing process, it’s best to just say no.
This can be a tough rule to master for some people—probably the toughest—but the day will come when the cravings don’t come any more. After that day, a candy bar will taste like what it is: A painfully sweet and unsatisfying pile of mystery ingredients. Try one, and you’ll find your energy level crashing and hunger level soaring, just like in the old days.
5 / Drink More Water
You probably got your fill of being commanded to “drink 8-10 glasses of water each day” years ago. Still, the benefits are real—especially if you’re in training. Hydrated muscles grow and perform at a higher level, and they are better protected against catabolism (breakdown) than muscles that are a quart low.
“But all that water!” you say. If you really can’t take it, then it’s time to start experimenting—just try to keep it clear. Drinking herbal teas or green tea can help you naturally cleanse, aside from many other benefits. Flavoring water with lemon or other flavors, or mixing in sugar-free electrolytes or aminos, could also make for healthy sipping during a long work day.
Notice I didn’t mention that swimming pool of flavored coffee you drink every day. Black coffee has its place, but there’s a point where it crashes into “clean eating,” like a speeding cement truck full of sugar and cream.
6 / Sit Down
Part of making healthy eating your lifestyle is setting aside the time to do it right. This means sitting down to a meal whenever possible, preferably at a table, with the people you care about.
If you’ve been living alone in an apartment for the last five years, this may sound like a giant pain in the neck. But just try it: Invite your friends over for dinner, sit around, and have a conversation. You’ll find that it helps you to actually get excited about what you’re cooking or serving. Like an athletic competition, it helps you raise your personal training to the next level. The same can’t be said for scarfing down pre-fab junk food on the couch or in the car.
Even if you’re not sharing your table with anyone in particular, try to clear out a dedicated space in your schedule—and in your stuff—for eating, particularly breakfast and dinner. These are important rituals that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life, so the better you are at them, the more you’ll enjoy them.
7 / Balance Your Diet
Two of the central ideas behind clean eating are balance and moderation. Don’t avoid carbs or dietary fats entirely on your clean diet approach, or you’ll find yourself dreading your meals. Get them in, adjusting the portion sizes to fit your particular nutrient and body goals.
Depending on your dietary system or lack thereof, your macronutrient ratio could break down any number of ways. Favor complex, unprocessed carbs and unsaturated fats, and you’re on the right track. Your grandmother was right: There’s nothing like sitting down to a plate with a protein, a vegetable, and a carb source all arrayed on the plate.
When it comes down to it, the key is to be mindful of your food and what it’s made of. If you don’t know, that’s a problem. You’re putting this stuff in your body, after all!
8 / Use Smart Flour Substitutes
Yes, you can enjoy baked goods and eat clean at the same time. The secret is to open yourself to the world beyond refined white flour. This might require that you try out some new recipes and make a few mistakes, but that’s all part of the fun, right? Stick with me here.
Almond flour, coconut flour, brown rice flour, and oat flour are all excellent ways to reduce the simple carbs of any recipe and still create delicious treats. Try baking with new flavors like pumpkin, dried fruits, or even savory breads and muffins flavored with meat, garlic, or chives.
Different flours have different nutritional profiles, so make sure to read up on them to find the ones that are best suited to your dietary approach. There’s a nearly unlimited variety to choose from.
9 / Don’t Eat Foods With Ingredients You Can’t Pronounce
Once you’ve been eating clean for a little while, you’ll inevitably begin to see the food industry as the giant machine that it is. It’s so much bigger than you, and it has its hands in so many different pockets, that it’s impossible for it to have your best interests at heart.
Need evidence? Look at the label of a box of cookies, a children’s lunch pack, or even a bottle of “natural” juice. You’d need a chemistry degree to read it, and even then, you couldn’t say what those substances are doing to you in the long run.
A good general rule: If you can’t state the name of a particular ingredient in the food you’re about to dine on, then consider passing. If you’re afraid that this rules out your favorite Ethiopian restaurant, consider making an exception for good, simple ethnic foods. Many times, these will pass the “the fewer ingredients the better” test while still giving you the culinary adventure you desire.
10 / Focus On Nutrients, Not Just Calories
Last but not least, as you launch your clean-eating plan, don’t get too caught up in the numbers game. In our bodyweight-conscious world, it’s easy to measure everything in terms of calories-in, calories-out. While this approach can help make you thin, it’s not enough to make you healthy.
The calorie-counting diet guru of the 70s and 80s is a relic of the past. Today, we know that getting the proper nutrients is far more important to an overall health than simple caloric balance.
Think of it this way: One approach leaves you feeling grumpy, ravenous, and guilty about simple pleasures. The other leads you to more energy, stable blood sugar, and a world of new foods you never considered in the past. The choice is easy.”
“It’s Super Bowl time! This game of all games may be hugely exciting for sports fans, but it can also be a time of anxiety for people trying to stick to a clean diet. What can healthy eaters and fitness buffs do? Continue to skip out on the chips and dip and nibble on carrots and rice cakes? That might seem like the only option. You can, however, opt to “get creative.”
If you’re playing host or have been instructed to bring food to a pot-luck party, figuring out ways to keep guests happy and your calorie count within reasonable limits is challenging. But with mission “get creative,” there’s hope. By using smart substitutions like low-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, swapping butter for virgin coconut oil, or using honey instead of sugar, you can continue to dip your treats without sacrificing your six-pack.
Need some ideas? Try these recipes!
Who doesn’t love the magical combo of chocolate and peanut butter? Instead of serving a bowl of Reese’s at your Super Bowl party, try this recipe. Serve it in wraps, or put it in a bowl and arrange some home-baked pita chips. It’s a treat that may get more attention than the game!
- 1/2 scoop chocolate casein protein powder
- 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp chopped almonds
- 1 tbsp dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or blueberries)
- 1/4 cup water
- Mix the casein, powdered peanut butter, cocoa powder together in a small bowl.
- Slowly add water (2 Tbsp at a time) until reaching desired consistency.
- Stir in almonds and dried fruit.
- Serve with a low-carb wrap or make your own pita chips.
Recipe yields 2 servings
That veggie-and-ranch-dressing tray is a staple at almost every get-together. Sure the carrots and celery sticks are good, but what do you do about that calorie-laden ranch dressing? Swap it with this delicious yogurt spread, of course.
- 1/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix the yogurt, mayo and garlic together until smooth.
- Stir in the fresh basil and salt and pepper.
- Serve with pieces of low-carb bread or with veggie sticks.
Recipe yields 2 servings
Sweet potato fries are always popular. Bring them to the party with this dip and add some sweet, low-cal flavor to those delicious complex carbs.
- 1/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp brown sugar substitute
- Blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Serve with baked sweet potato fries as a delicious treat or appetizer!
Recipe yields 4 servings
More than a billion chicken wings were eaten on Super Bowl Sunday last year. If they’re on your menu again for 2013, try them with a healthier sauce. The tangy flavor will have your guests begging for more!
- Stir ingredients together until well mixed.
- Pour over plain tuna or chicken to spice it up!
Recipe yields 2 servings
Chips and dip are the most classic party food. Don’t throw away your clean diet by dipping Doritos into microwaved Velveeta cheese and salsa. Instead, try this protein-filled dip with some brown rice crackers.
- 1 cup 2% cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup egg beaters or egg whites
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped spinach
- In a large pre-sprayed pan, saute the mushrooms and spinach over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
- Blend cottage cheese, egg whites, and garlic until smooth.
- Transfer the cottage cheese mixture to a large bowl and stir in the spinach and egg beaters.
- Microwave for approximately 1 minute or until warm throughout.
- Enjoy with rice crackers!
Recipe yields 4 servings
Need something sweet? Those cupcakes might look great, but they’re full of refined sugar. This yummy butter is still sweet, but has far fewer calories and grams of sugar than most desserts. Serve it with pieces of home-made protein bread.
- In a microwave, heat the banana and blueberries in separate bowls for approximately one minute, or until soft.
- Combine the banana and coconut oil in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Transfer blend to a small bowl and stir in the heated blueberries.
- Spread over Ezekiel toast for a delicious, clean eating treat!
Recipe yields 4 servings
“The Ripped Dude has done it again! With you and your get-shredded goals in mind, Obi has brought together three more awesome athletes to give you their two cents on how to be lean.
Be forewarned, however. Some of this information isn’t conventional—you may not want to implement it into your program. You might, however, be interested to know the myriad ways diet and training can be manipulated to sculpt the body you want. Read on to learn more!
What are your top five
Weight: 185 pounds (85kg)
This Aussie fitness personality is a top-three Asia-Pacific model. Not only is he a professional in the fitness field, he’s also a successful recruiter at Salesforce.com.
- Fish and chili
- Egg whites
- Kangaroo steak and hot peppers
- Oats with black coffee
- Chicken and broccoli
- Organic oats
- Organic chia seeds
- Syn-Tec Glycowhey protein
- Organic Broccoli
- Free range lean meats
- Unsalted almonds: The more good fats I get from nuts, the easier I can maintain leanness.
- 2% cottage cheese: I don’t like to cut dairy, but I’m lactose intolerant. Using “lighter” dairy products help me get the protein I need.
- Green apples: Make a noticeable difference in my body composition and are a great source of natural sugar when I want something cold and sweet.
- Basmati Rice: Until recently, this was the primary carbohydrate in my meals.
- MuscleGel Shots: Because my body does not respond well to things like chicken, turkey, and beef anymore, these are my predominate source of protein.
Ben: I train twice per day, so I stay in the range of 3,000 to 3,300 calories.
Sonny: That depends on my goals. For maintenance, I eat about 2,600 calories per day. If I want to increase size, anything more than 3,000 calories works well for me.
Rosie: I do not use any specific “diet.” Instead, I listen to my body and make adjustments to my training and nutrition. My macronutrient ratio and calorie intake may change on a day-to-day basis. Usually, my maintenance calorie intake is around 4,300 each day.
However, the amount of calories is much less important than when I have them. I have been using the Lean Gains 16-hour fast with 8-hour eating window since April, 2011. I’ve noticed that I can eat the same amount of calories in an eight-hour window as I can with 4-6 meals and have better results.
Ben: I train abs like every other muscle group! You wouldn’t spend 20 minutes on arms after a leg session, would you? I spend 45-60 minutes on abs 4-5 times per week. I say that one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world is invent new abs exercises.
I recommend hitting them hard at least three times per week in the morning on an empty stomach. Use a variety of training methods so it’s never easy.
Weight: 173 pounds (79kg)
Sonny Brown is a published fitness model, a personal trainer, a Syn-Tec Nutraceuticals athlete, and the owner of Greater Health.
Sponsored By: Syn-Tec Nutraceuticals
Sonny: I love training abs! I find it beneficial to train them on an empty stomach because I can get a great squeeze and exhale at the bottom or top of every exercise. If I am dialing in for a photo-shoot or competition, I hit them for the two weeks leading up to the event. Otherwise, I usually train them four days per week.
Rosie: I train abs twice per week for 100-120 reps each time. I like to do hanging and weighted abs, and increase the volume if I want to see more “grooves.” It’s important to remember that abs are like any other muscle group—they need time to recover.
Seeing your abs is about being lean though, not about doing endless reps.
Ben: YOR health products! I use these products because they’re designed to un-clog the digestive system so you can absorb more nutrients. When I’m dieting for a competition, I need to make the food I eat go a long way. These products are also designed to “alkalinize” your body, which helps me feel more energized.
Sonny: As a natural athlete, supplementation is important. I find that using quality protein powder for peri-workout nutrition is essential. Apart from protein powder, I use a combination of BCAAs, Beta-Alanine, Arginine and CLA Capsules. When I’m carb-cycling, I feel these supplements help me keep a round, full, and vascular look.
Weight: Between 103-110 pounds
This New Zealander is a national track and road-cycling champion. She’s an exercise physiologist, professional trainer, writer, and model.
Rosie: Because protein powders upset my stomach, I use RecoverPro and MuscleGel shots for my primary protein sources. I also use fat burners to help maintain leanness.
Ben: I actually don’t call them cheat meals! I call them “victory meals” because they should be a celebration of your commitment and dedication to the diet.
My “victory meal” frequency depends on my physique and conditioning, so it varies. If I’m preparing for a competition, photo shoot, or starting a new diet, I’ll wait two weeks before enjoying a victory meal. Typically, I have a victory meal once per week on a Sunday when I take my girlfriend out for dinner. If we eat in, I like to have a pizza or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Sonny: Recently, I’ve been eating more calories after I train muscle groups I want to grow. But, if I’m dieting for a shoot or competition, I eliminate all cheat meals. If I’m not dieting, and can keep my body-fat levels low, then I allow myself some Japanese or Baskin Robbin’s ice cream after a tough training session.
Rosie: For me, almost every day is a cheat meal. I generally just eat what I want when I want. I admit, this is an unconventional approach—but it works for my body. I am, however, working on making my nutrition a little cleaner so it’s more health-oriented. I know many people would not agree with the way I do things, but I’m not a dieter and never have been. One’s diet should be a lifestyle, not a temporary plan.
Nutrition has always been the one area where I have not had much discipline. My diet is honestly what most people would call a perpetual cheat. Although it may not work for everyone, my diet is a specific adaption for me.”
“A refeed day is for all intent purposes similar to a cheat day or a low carb day. The only real exception is that a refeed day has been organized and intentionally integrated into an individual’s diet and exercise regime. If an individual has been following a low calorie diet for a significant amount of time their metabolism will naturally drop as a result. Such a drop means that weight loss effectively grinds to a halt. In addition, the individual encounters numerous food cravings, is left feeling weak and fatigued, and generally not well. A refeed day should hopefully address and reverse such issues and make you lose weight a lot faster as the amount you would usually lose.
Refeeding Is Not About Eating Anything
In the first instance a refeed day is not about eating everything and anything, as is the case with a cheat day. Such eating will promote fat gain, and this is not the end result any individual would wish. In addition, a refeed day is meant to enhance the results of an individual’s exercise regime. By ensuring that more strenuous and demanding exercise is undertaken on a refeed day, an individual is utilizing great amounts of energy from the food consumed, thereby getting the optimum results. Eating is not the right way how to lose weight fast at all.
The Types Of Food To Consume
When considering the types of foods you should be consuming on a refeed day, it is recommended to opt for those foods that are high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein (which is different from several high-protein diets like the Dukan Diet). Ideally you are trying to limit the consumption of any excess fat. This can be achieved by concentrating on “clean” calories in the form of wholewheat bread, pasta, rice, oats and wholegrain cereals. However, it is also an idea to have some low fat foods. This will not only ensure that you meet your calorie goal for the refeed day, but also avoid that uncomfortable lethargic bloated feeling.
How Many Calories?
The amount of calories consumed on a refeed day will vary from individual to individual, and will be solely dependent on an individual’s current diet and body fat ratio. The longer period of time an individual has been on a diet will generally signify that a higher number of calories need to be consumed. However, as a general rule any individual should aim to consume 150% of their normal daily maintenance level of calories. The protein element of the refeed day should be in the region of one gram of protein per pound of body weight, with the remaining calories coming from carbohydrates. A refeed can also be spread across a two day period, if that is preferable and sits more comfortably with the individual concerned. The individual would then aim to consume 130% of their normal daily maintenance level of calories on day one, and 120% of their normal daily maintenance level of calories on day two.
Gaining Weight Afterwards
It cannot be stressed enough that any individual will gain weight the day following a refeed day. This is to be expected and should not cause too much angst and despair. Such a weight gain will only be a temporary as a result of carrying excess water. The individual’s weight will of course revert back to normal within a day or so. Although worrying at the time, you should not dwell too much on this fact.
The results of a refeed day can be startling, as an individual’s body will look considerably leaner than before. However, the optimum results will have been achieved in the sense that an individual’s metabolism will have been kick started. This will enable them to continue with their weight loss regime to maximum effect.”
“With summer approaching very quickly, most of you have begun to think about starting on your transition to get the six pack abs that you’ve always wanted. You may have taken a stab at achieving this goal in the past, but frustratingly, you didn’t have much success. Getting the six pack abs to clearly show through takes more than just hard work and effort; it takes the right type of strategy to get the job done.
If your approach is flawed in any manner, it will set you back and keep you from realizing true success. Therefore, your job this year is to get on a proper strategy first and then put in the hard work. When you do these in combination, this will be the year that the six pack abs become yours. Here’s what you need to do.
Click To Enlarge.
Your Job This Year Is To Get On A Proper
Strategy First And Then Put In The Hard Work.
There’s no question about it, getting the six pack abs is going to be predominately a factor of eating right. If you aren’t watching the foods you put in your mouth with each and every meal, success will elude you. If you were to gather a group of people in a room who have already achieve the six pack abs and ask them their number one tip for results, 90% of them would state diet. It really is that important.
Figuring out your calorie intake is paramount so what you need to do first. Most people starting out on a fat loss program will begin losing body fat at an intake of about 13 calories per pound of body weight (provided you are doing workouts 3-5 days a week), but don’t be surprised if as you progress you have to bring this down closer to the 9-10 calories per pound range.
At the lower body fat levels, your body is going to fight you harder to get the six pack abs you’re after. When you get to the point of having to lower them this much, it’s wise to calorie cycle between the very low levels and slightly higher levels to ensure that your metabolism doesn’t crash. Place a few more calories (and carbohydrates) on days you have a heavy workout and lower them again on days you don’t.”
“Water is very important for many reasons. It has many health and performance benefits. It keeps your organs functioning properly, clears toxins, reduces excesssodium from your body, and it hydrates your muscle cells. It even liberates fat stores on your body so they are burned off as an energy source. Dehydration will cause a major decrement in performance.
Water plays a major role in cell volumization. This is where nutrients are pulled inside of the muscle cell causing a multitude of reactions that leads to muscle growth. Water is very important in many processes including digestion, transportation and the absorption of nutrients.”
“The following is an excerpt from Curtis Koch’s article, Creatine: Beyond The Confusion.
Creatine is an amino acid used by the body to provide energy. It helps volumize muscle (makes muscles larger), increases strength and power, provides energy to the muscles and buffers lactic acid.
Creatine may also prevent mental fatigue, help with genital herpes, lower the risk of coronary heart or cerebrovascular disease, and has been linked with a decreased risk in some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
The common practice for taking creatine is to “load” creatine for five to seven days, and then continue to take a “maintenance” amount indefinitely. The idea is that by taking a larger amount of creatine, you can super-saturate the muscle and increase the total creatine pool. Then all you need is a maintenance serving to keep an elevated level of creatine in the muscle.”
Anna, I know how to make protein pancakes, but how do you make protein crepes?
Protein crepes are incredibly easy and, arguably, one of the most fun ways to eat your whey protein powder. Why? Because you can fill them with all sorts of stuff! You can fill them withpeanut butter and jelly, almond butter and bananas, or with dark chocolate and berries! You can even fill them with protein fluff or casein pudding for an out-of-this-world ultra-high-protein experience!
Crepes aren’t difficult to make, but they can be a little frustrating if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. These three tips will help make your crepes-cooking experience a successful one!
You’ll need a good non-stick pan. If you have an actual crepe pan, that’s great. If you don’t though, no worries—as long as you have a good-quality nonstick pan, you’re set.
Make sure your pan is sizzling hot before you pour the batter onto it. Once the batter is in the pan, though, turn down the heat to medium-high.
Coat your pan with coconut oil, butter, or a low-calorie non-stick spray before you pour the batter in it. If your pan isn’t properly greased, your thin crepes may stick or burn.
The crepe-making process is a quick one. If you’re making several at the same time, think of yourself as a machine: pour, flip, and plate.
Are you ready to give it a go? Here’s the recipe:
- Using a hand-held blender, mixer or a food processor, blend all ingredients. If you want, add spices like cinnamon, orange or lemon zest, or nutmeg to batter.
- Once your batter is smooth, heat a pan greased with a teaspoon of butter, coconut oil, or cooking spray. Allow the pan to get super hot.
- Once pan is hot, pour in 1/4 cup of batter. (The batter should sizzle when you pour it into the pan.) As soon as the batter hits the pan, turn down the burner to medium-high so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn.
- Cover the surface of the pan with the batter in a thin layer. Spread the batter by moving the pan or by spreading it with a spoon or spatula.
- Flip each crepe as soon as bubbles begin to form on its surface. Then, allow the other side to cook—it should only take a few seconds—until it gets golden brown.
- When the crepe is done, remove it from pan and put it on a plate. You may have to re-grease the pan every three or four crepes.
- Once all your crepes are prepared, fill them! For this column, I filled them with peanut butter and sprinkled them with medium-chain triglyceride powder. But the sky is the limit. You can fill them with protein fluff, protein pudding, nuts, fresh fruit, or melted dark chocolate. You can even go down a savory route and fill them with red pepper, chicken, and avocado!
Serving Size Per crepe, recipe makes 6
“Do you know how
to make protein falafel?
I absolutely love falafel, so I’ve made it many times! Strangely enough, though, I’ve never made a protein-packed, fitness-friendly falafel. What a great challenge!
Traditional falafel is made from a mix of chickpeas, spices, onions, garlic, (chickpea) flour, egg, herbs, and breadcrumbs. From this batter, balls or fritters are formed and then deep-friend in oil until golden brown. Falafel is usually eaten warm inside pita bread, but it’s also common to find falafel balls served alongside a lettuce and tomato salad.
Delicious! Unfortunately, falafel is traditionally fried and high in fat. For those following a healthy nutrition plan, falafel doesn’t really fit.
I set out to answer a few burning questions: Is it possible to make a low-fat and lower-carb falafel? Can we keep everything that makes falafel taste great and get rid of the things that make it unhealthy? And, most importantly, can we up the protein content?
Guess what, friends? We can.
- 1/2 cup (118ml) Liquid Egg Whites
- 3/8 cup (51g) unflavored Pea Protein Powder
- 1 can (255g) unsalted cooked and drained Chickpeas
- 1/4 cup (34g) Oat Flour (gluten-free or regular)
- 1/4 of a Red Onion (34g)
- 1 fresh Garlic Clove
- 1 handful of Fresh Parsley (or more, depending on taste)
- 2 tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1/2 tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1/2 tbsp Paprika
- 1 tbsp Sea Salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- In a bowl or mixer, pulse together the above ingredients; you want to retain some of the batter’s texture, so just pulse the mix until the chickpeas are mushy.
- Shape mixture into balls or fritters and place them on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Turn falafel balls over so they brown evenly. Bake for another 15 minutes.
- If falafel is thoroughly browned, take them out of the oven.
- Eat them! They’re good dipped in hummus and also delicious dipped in Greek yogurt with fresh coriander and onions. They’re also good inside pita bread, or alongside a good old-fashioned salad!
Serving Size Per 6 falafel, recipe yields 12
“Here’s the first thing I hear when I tell someone how much protein I eat: That’s bad for your kidneys.
Are all these people doctors? Nephrologists? Psychics, perhaps, who are in touch with my kidneys through the other side?
Nope, but somehow the average person just knows that eating, say, 35% of one’s calories from protein will be bad for the kidneys. Have a few too many chicken breasts and you’ll end up on dialysis or feeling like you’ve slept with a cinder block under your lumbar spine.
Ask these folks what protein actually does to kidneys and you get a lot of vagueness. It’s just bad.
Meanwhile, the cola-chugging, fry-chomping, immovable object known as my office mate is left unquestioned about their lifestyle choices.
But is it actually true that protein will harm my kidneys?
Before I review this concept, let’s talk about what kidneys do, as well as a few measures your doctor uses to see whether your kidneys are happy and functioning.
Kidneys do several things. They:
- filter your blood, getting rid of waste
- regulate how much water and various salts you have in your blood
- help maintain proper blood pH (how acidic or alkaline your blood is)
- make hormones like erythropoietin (among others)
The argument about protein hurting kidneys — if anyone can actually substantiate it — comes from the theoretically increased load of having to process protein. The idea is that more protein equals more of a filtration challenge for the kidneys, which then triggers the inevitable kidney explosion or renal labour strike.
Measuring kidney function
There are about half a dozen measures used for kidney function but they all measure how much fluid (blood plasma) your kidney filters at any given time.
GLOMERULAR FILTRATION RATE (GFR)
- This rate of filtering is called the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR refers to filtration at a specific part of the kidneys where blood plasma is filtered, called the glomerulus.
- GFR isn’t that easy to measure, because you need to be injected with a substance that filters straight through the glomerulus without any trouble. Usually, a substance called inulin is used (not be confused with insulin).
- GFR is then calculated by taking samples of blood and samples of urine. GFR is determined by how fast inulin leaves the blood and ends up in the urine.
- Normal GFR is about 90-120 mL/min. Below 15 mL/min is kidney failure.
- Creatinine is a normal byproduct of physical activity because of the breakdown of creatine phosphate found in muscle. More muscle mass means that more creatinine ends up in the blood.
- Creatinine clearance (filtration) is an indirect way of measuring GFR. Since creatinine is constantly being made by the body at a pretty constant rate, with only a little bit being reabsorbed, the rate that creatinine shows up in your urine is the rate your kidneys can filter.
- Normal values are 97-138 mL/min for men and 88-128 mL/min for women.
INDIRECT METHODS OF FIGURING OUT KIDNEY FUNCTION: URINE ALBUMIN, BUN AND PLASMA CREATININE
- Instead of trying to calculate filtration rate, you can also look at increases in plasma levels of stuff your kidneys are supposed to be getting rid of, like creatinine and urea.
- Higher levels of plasma creatinine or blood urea (Blood Urea Nitrogen; BUN) likely mean your kidneys aren’t filtering efficiently enough to get rid of the excess.
- Normal creatinine levels are 0.5 to 1.0 mg/dL (about 45-90 μmol/L) for women and 0.7 to 1.2 mg/dL (60-110 μmol/L) for men. More muscle mass will increase those numbers. Normal BUN values are 10-20 mg/dL.
- Urine albumin tests how much of a protein called albumin is in your urine. There should be none. If there is some, it suggests that there is some damage that’s allowing albumin to pass through the kidneys.
- Under 20 µg of albumin per minute is considered normal kidney function.
Thus, we can use these types of measures to see whether the kidneys are, in fact, working properly. This week’s study uses kidney tests along with other tests to determine the safety and usefulness of a high-protein diet in a population who is already at higher risk for kidney damage.
Testing high protein and kidney function
So now that we know how to assess kidney function and potential damage, we can use these tests to figure out whether high-protein diets do, in fact, harm the kidneys.
To figure this out, we could test kidney function and high-protein diets in healthy people. Or we could go one step further and test high-protein diet on people whose kidney functions are already compromised: obese diabetics.
OBESITY, DIABETES AND KIDNEY DISEASE
Obesity and type 2 diabetes can cause and exacerbate poor kidney function (1). One large-scale study found, for instance, that end-stage renal disease (ESRD) increased proportionately to body mass index (BMI): as BMI went up, so did kidney disease.(2)
Mechanisms of cardiorenal damage exacerbated by overweight and poor nutrition (click to enlarge). From Sowers et al. (1)
This week’s study examines a high-protein diet and resistance training for people in a high-risk group: those that are overweight or obese and have type 2 diabetes. Contrary to popular expectations, their kidneys didn’t explode.
Wycherley TP, Noakes M, Clifton PM, Cleanthous X, Keogh JB, Brinkworth GD.A high-protein diet with resistance exercise training improves weight loss and body composition in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2010 May;33(5):969-76. Epub 2010 Feb 11.
Participants were men and women with an average:
- BMI of 35.4kg/m2 (roughly 39% body fat)
- age of 55 years
- weight of 103 kg (40 kg fat + 63 kg lean body mass)
In this study there were four groups:
- Control (CON) group members were placed on a hypocaloric diet (53% carbs, 19% protein and 26% fat)
- High-protein (HP) group members were on a hypocaloric diet high in protein (43% carbs, 33% protein and 22% fat)
- Control + resistance training (CON+RT) group members were on a hypocaloric diet and worked out with weights 3 days per week
- High-protein + resistance training (HP + RT) group members were on the same hypercaloric high-protein diet as group #2, but also doing the resistance training of group #3.
The study lasted 16 weeks. Body weight, body fat, blood pressure, strength and blood tests were recorded before and after.
Definitions of “high protein” vary in the literature. For bodybuilders and strength trainers, 2.2-4.4g of protein per kilogram of weight per day (1-2g/lb/day) is common.
Here, high protein was defined as 33% of total calories, or about 1.2g/kg/day (0.55g/lb/day). This group consumed about 2.04 g of protein per kg of lean body mass (or 0.92 g/lb lean body mass).
While this amount may be higher than conventional food guides would suggest, based on what bodybuilders and strength athletes normally consume, I wouldn’t call this truly a high protein diet.
Groups 3 and 4 trained with resistance 3 times a week, with at least one day’s rest between workout days.
Each workout involved eight exercises with 70-85% of their 1 repetition maximum for 8-12 repetitions for 2 sets, with 1-2 minutes rest between sets. Weight was increased if they could do more than 12 reps for both sets.
- leg press
- knee extension
- chest press
- shoulder press
- lat pulldown
- seated row
- triceps press
All exercises but sit ups were done on machines.
All in all, not a particularly impressive workout program, but going from nothing to something is going to improve strength and muscle mass regardless.
HIGH PROTEIN + RESISTANCE TRAINING = FAT LOSS
All groups lost weight (see Figure 1 & 2).
However, the HP+RT lost the most body weight and fat (13.8 kg and 11.4 kg, respectively).
The HP+RT group also lost more fat around their waist: 11.4 cm around their waist gone, compared the other groups that lost 8.2cm (CON), 8.9cm (HP) and 11.3cm (CON+RT).
HIGH PROTEIN + RESISTANCE TRAINING = STRONGER
Both groups that worked out (CON+RT & HP+RT) got stronger while the other groups (CON & HP) got weaker when you look at their 1 RM on bench press (Figure 3).
All groups had improvements in their blood pressure after the 16 weeks (15 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure & 8 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure).
All groups had significant improvements in:
- plasma glucose (1.9 to 2.7 mmol/l)
- serum insulin (3.5 to 7.9 mU/l)
- triglycerides (0.3 to 0.6 mmol/l)
- total cholesterol (0.6 to 0.8 mmol/l)
- LDL cholesterol (0.2 to 0.5 mmol/l)
There were no differences between groups as far as blood measures go, though the authors suggest that having more people (increased statistical power) in the study would have helped show some blood differences. They argued more people in the study may show more blood measure improvements in the HP+RT group since they had marginal blood improvements across the board. But until they do a study with more people we can say for sure this is just speculation.
The HDL cholesterol was a little strange: it went down a little bit (0.1 mmol/l) over the 16 weeks in all the groups except the CON.
- CON – hypocaloric diet (19% protein)
- HP – hypocaloric high protein diet
- CON+RT – CON diet with weight training
- HP+RT – HP diet with weight training
Figure 1: Body weight lost after 16 weeks of the experiment
Figure 2: Body fat lost after 16 weeks of the experiment
Figure 3: Change in bench press strength as measured by 1 repetition maximum after 16 weeks of the experiment
HIGH PROTEIN = NO KIDNEY PROBLEMS
Here’s some data to help you stave off the Protein is going to make your kidneys explode crowd.
Since diabetes is the biggest cause of kidney failure and obesity is a contributing risk factor, you’d think that these overweight and obese diabetics eating high protein diets would have signs of kidney dysfunction. Nope.
Using creatinine clearance and urinary albumin to measure kidney function, the researchers found that there was no difference in these measures between the high protein diet and the control diet. Over time there was a decrease in creatinine clearance, but an improvement in microalbuminuria.
Overweight and obese diabetics (type 2) who eat a high protein (33%) but calorically restricted diet while weight training lost more overall weight and fat, and reduced their waist girth more, compared to those who were on a calorie-restricted diet with 19% protein.
There were no differences in blood lipids or other blood measures between groups (though with more participants, high-protein would have fared better), though there was an improvement over the 16 weeks of the experiment.
Despite concerns that high protein diet would comprise kidney function (especially in diabetics who are at high risk for kidney failure) there were no differences between groups and kidney function measures.
Weight training in combination with a high protein diet (33% of calories) is more effective for fat loss than just a high protein diet, or weight training with a diet lower in protein (19%).
Obese and overweight diabetics on a high protein diet or a control diet for 16 weeks had the same kidney function. Added protein had no negative effects, even in these folks who were at higher risk.
Enjoy your protein shakes, everyone.”
“Warning! Food companies are taking advantage of your New Year’s resolution to get fit. Good marketing can make products seem fat-loss friendly, but most of the time companies are just trying to make money. They don’t actually have your best interests at heart.
Don’t be fooled! The following foods are only disguised as healthy—the reality is much different. Just like the end of every Scooby Doo episode, find out what happens when we rip off the mask and show you the truth.
1 / Fat-Free Yogurt
Many new dieters see the words “fat-free” and crowd the dairy aisle hoping to get their hands on some. Fitting yogurt into your diet depends on your goals, but going for the “fat-free” version may actually hinder your progress.
The problem with fat-free yogurt is that it’s not sugar-free. Because the fat has been taken out, the yogurt doesn’t taste good. A lot of companies load the yogurt with sugar to make up for the lost flavor.
Furthermore, some of these yogurts are made with thickening agents. These unnatural additives are no good.
2 / Diet Soda
Diet soda is calorie-free, so many dieters think it’s a go-to beverage when they’re in the mood for something sweet. Although there aren’t any calories, diet soda is loaded with chemicals that can make you feel bloated, suffer headaches, and may even increase your risk for heart disease and other health problems.
Those who regularly drink diet soda often find that they have stronger cravings for sweet food. If you crave sweet food all day, sticking to your diet is going to be 10 times more difficult.
3 / Fat-Free Potato Chips
Who doesn’t miss the crunchy salty taste of chips when they diet? Even if you find the craving overwhelming, opting for fat-free chips is not a good call. Fat-free chips are often made with “fat replacers.”
Fat replacers are made by adding carbs (maltodextrin, polydextrose, etc.), chemically altered fatty acids (Olestra), or protein to products instead of fat. These replacements have fewer calories but can still make food taste good and have better texture.
Whether fat replacers are bad for you has not been scientifically proven. However, many people complain of digestive distress after eating food made with fat replacers. It’s also been shown that because Olestra is not digested or absorbed, it doesn’t releaseVitamins A, D, or E. It’s possible to have deficiencies in these vitamins if you eat Olestra with any sort of consistency.
It is better to ditch chips altogether. They’re simple carbs that will only cause a blood-glucose spike and a then lead to a hunger crash.
If you must have chips, thinly slice a sweet potato and bake the slices to make your own.
4 / Low-Fat Ice Cream
Low-fat ice cream has similar problems to low-fat yogurt. Sure, there’s less fat, but usually that means there’s more sugar, sometimes in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup is one of the leading causes of obesity. Taking steps to omit that ingredient from your diet, forever, will serve you well.
5 / Sugar-Free Chocolate
Sugar-free chocolate seems like guilt-free nutritional nirvana. However, much sugar-free chocolate contain various sugar alcohols. For some people, sugar alcohols can cause digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
Just because the chocolate is sugar-free, doesn’t mean you should scarf an entire bar. It still contains calories and fat. Don’t be misled.
6 / Fruit Drinks
The famous “made with real fruit” slogan is tricky. Sure there might be some fruit in your juice, but if you read the label, you’ll find that you’re probably drinking sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or flavor-enhancing chemical additives.
Fruit drinks are also notoriously high in calories. Drinking them isn’t going to do your low-calorie diet any good. They may give you some vitamin C, but the benefits do not outweigh the negatives.
Eat the real thing (whole foods!), but eat it in moderation. If you want fruit, don’t get juice—eat an apple.
Natural foods are best. If you eat food that’s close to its source, you won’t have to worry about an influx of harmful chemicals.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to read the ingredient label. If there are one hundred ingredients—many of which you can’t pronounce—put it down and run for the produce section!”
“Pop Tarts, popcorn, and poppin’ bottles. Sound familiar? Sure it does; these are the staples of many college diets. However, another P-word has recently been gaining ground among students, after already winning over plenty of people in the fitness community and a small army of A-list celebs. I’m talking about paleo.
The Paleolithic diet—you may also know it under labels like primal, Stone Age, and caveman—has a brutish reputation of demanding meat, meat, and more meat. It’s actually chock-full of all the good veggies you know you should grub on, and it allows you more dietary flexibility than you might expect. What exactly does it mean to “go paleo?” Is it even possible while you’re in college?
With some research and reasonable expectations, the paleo lifestyle is doable, even for someone whose life is a series of trips back and forth from the dorm to the cafeteria. It may even help you sport a stack of celebrity abs that’ll help you conquer that co-ed you’ve been eyeing since before Thanksgiving (turkey, sweet potato, butternut squash—those are all Paleo, by the way).
Curious? Let’s get historical.
The fundamentals of paleo dietary systems can be summed up in two commandments:
- Thou shalt eat whole foods from the following categories: meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some fruit. A small amount of starch is OK.
- Thou shalt not consume dairy, sugar, legumes (including peanuts), or any products containing wheat or gluten.
The exclusion of wheat, dairy, and legumes centers on the idea that these products were developed or cultivated by humans, so they are not what our digestive systems are meant to handle. Paleo advocates attribute a host of maladies—depressed immune system, heightened inflammatory response, whacked-out hormones, and awry bowel movements—to the presence of these franken-foods in our diet.
At this point, most people find themselves wondering exactly how they’ll construct their paleo meals. It turns out you’ve had plenty of them without realizing it! Ever order the ol’ eggs-and-bacon with a side of fruit? How about a chicken fajita salad? Both are paleo.
Remember when you went on a date and ordered grilled salmon over a bed of leafy greens? Your cutie may have ordered paleo with the top sirloin, fresh veggies, and a sweet potato. In either case, it looks like you’re already well on your way.
A Caveman Caveat
Eat clean all the time—it’s so simple, right? Except that it’s also pretty strict, so before going any further, I’m going to offer a caveat: Going HAM (literally) on Paleo is admirable, but due to the unpredictable nature of college eating—and funding—it may not be possible for you to immediately become 100 percent Paleo. This is especially true on nights out; alcohol is not paleo, with the exception of a little red wine.
Why am I saying this? I don’t want you to beat yourself up, try to live up to an unreasonable ideal, or put yourself in a position where your only choice is not to eat. Paleo man was a person much like the rest of us, without certain luxuries.
College is a time to try things out and wear your identity on your sleeve. There are countless diets out there, and none of them are perfect. While you’re at school, it’s perfectly acceptable to cherry-pick what works for you—what makes you feel and look better—and not cram yourself into a certain label. Remember, what we’re all after is something that works for our lifestyle.
OK, so you wander out of your cave, cramming for A&P and walk over to the school cafeteria. Do your paleo dreams stand a chance in the land of hamburger buns and hairnets? Definitely, as long as you enter with a plan.
Here’s a guide to keep in mind when you piece together your plate:
Let’s take a look at how this would actually play out in a dorm situation:
- I grab my tray and head toward the custom stir-fry line and order a good portion of chicken, and maybe a bit of shrimp. This is my protein.
- I tell the chef I’d like all the veggies tossed in. Now I’m good on veggies.
- I make a pit stop at the salad bar to grab a few pieces of fruit—one for now, the other for later.
- Finally, I sprinkle a few sliced almonds over my stir-fry, and/or pack some for a quick snack later.
Sometimes, fast food isn’t avoidable—especially if you are in a car full of drunk peeps all clamoring for the golden arches.
If you find yourself driving toward that all-too-familiar drive-thru lane, don’t fear. Play it like this:
- Go salad style; hold the cheese and croutons, and ask for extra meat instead, or:
- Get a burger with extra lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, and sans buns, cheese, and mayo. Look for a double patty with bacon if that’s in the cards. Opt for sliced fruit on the side if it’s available. It’s not perfect, but it’s satisfying, and you could do a lot worse.
If you stop at a gas station, you have a lot more options. It’s easy and not too expensive to cobble together a mobile paleo meal at the mini-mart. Just look for:
- Canned tuna, either beef or turkey jerky (pick the one with the least ingredients), or Ostrim, which is a meat stick made from ostrich and lean beef.
- Fresh fruit. Most places will have a few apples, oranges, or bananas in a basket for sale.
- Nuts (except for peanuts) with little to no seasoning. The closer to “whole and unprocessed,” the better.
- If it’s your thing, unflavored pork rinds are also a paleo-acceptable option.
Paleo is a great system to support muscle-building and is well-suited to intensely training athletes. Ask your local army of CrossFitters if you have any doubt.
If your goal is to put on a bit of caveman muscle, here are a few tips to help you get there:
- Make sure you have a good bit of starchy carbs like sweet potato, yam, or fruit an hour or two before your training session.
- Immediately after your training session, have a low-fat, moderate protein, and high-carbohydrate meal. Try a mix between regular and sweet potatoes, plus that cafeteria banana you stashed in your car.
- Depending on how easy it is for you to gain lean mass, you may also want to include additional starchy carbs and/or fruit in your subsequent meals in order to illicit muscle growth and help you recover from your training regimen.
- If you have a hard time gaining weight, here’s my tried-and-true paleo ace: healthy fats. Add an extra tablespoon of coconut or olive oil into your cooking; it can make a difference. You could also opt to blend almond or cashew butter into your protein shakes for an added calorie boost!
If you want to go paleo, you have to cook. Trust me, this isn’t a bad thing. Here are a few freshman-level eats you can throw together in even the measliest dorm kitchen.
1 / The Avocado-Egg Hybrid
- Slice a ripe, medium-to-large avocado lengthwise. Remove the seed.
- With a spoon, carve out a slightly bigger crater for one whole egg to rest in.
- Place the 2 halves into an oven-safe tin. Make sure the halves are stable, or the eggs may slip out.
- Season to taste; I like a few fresh-cut green onions, sea salt, and chili pepper flakes.
- Crack your egg into the avocado crater and season a bit more if desired.
- Broil at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the egg is cooked to your liking.
2 / Taco Salad Wraps
- Dice all vegetables; like mushrooms, onions, peppers, and fresh garlic.
- Sauté diced ingredients with a little oil and seasoning. Use cayenne, rosemary, sea salt, and cracked pepper. You could go with straight-up fajita seasoning out of the packet.
- Brown ground meat.
- Once onions begin to caramelize, combine sautéed vegetables with ground meat.
- Wrap with lettuce. Add a bit of salsa verde and sliced avocados to round out the wrap.
3 / Paleo Pancakes
- Mix pumpkin, eggs, spice, a pinch of baking soda, 1 big tablespoon of coconut oil, and maple syrup (to your liking) together in a bowl.
- Fire up the skillet and lightly coat the surface with butter or coconut oil.
- Pour, cook, flip, and cook your pancakes.
- Garnish with fruit, such as fresh peaches, berries, or bananas.
4 / Mashed Cauliflower
This is a strangely delicious and surprisingly convincing potato substitute—even if you think you hate cauliflower.
- Dice cauliflower into thumb-sized pieces and steam until mashable.
- Using a food processor, blender, or sheer brute force, mix all the ingredients together to desired texture.
- Season to taste and eat immediately.
“You can tell a lot about a person by what they say they’d do if they were given a time machine. Some of us would dial it in for the middle of the 1980s, so we could disabuse the masses of their misguided nutritional notions.
The whole-foods hippies of the 1970s were entering middle age. After a look in the mirror at a sagging this and a bulging that, they began believing every half-cooked book and commercial telling them the key to healthy living was filling their fridge with margarine, tofu, and low-fat … everything.
We may not be to the promised land of nutrition yet—far from it!—but at least researchers can now say conclusively what was wrong with some of the health rules that we formerly swore by. Bypass the non-fat trap and other food myths with these tips from registered dietitian Andy Bellatti.
You pass on pizza, skip the sweets, and double up on salad. You pile your plate with cuts of lean chicken, tomatoes, peppers, and green, leafy vegetables.
Then you opt for a squeeze of lemon juice or top off an already healthy meal with a little balsamic. But you’ve unknowingly just backtracked. The problem: Your fat-free diet is costing you fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients.
According to a study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, adding healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or even a tablespoon of full-fat dressing helps the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, K and other heart-healthy nutrients. They’re also crucial to feeling full and satisfied after eating. Good luck sticking to your diet without them!
We’re not talking vegetables and beans here. Low-fat processed foods are where things become problematic, because they’re often packed with sugar and refined carbohydrates, both of which are more intimately connected to the fat on your body than is the fat in, say, an artichoke. Really, it’s a shame they both get called the same name.
Rather than avoiding the F-word like the plague, a better choice is to pick the right fats and enjoy them without guilt, because when it comes to heart health, a little fat goes a long way. “Studies have consistently shown that monosaturated fats (in almonds, peanuts, and avocados), omega 3s—and even some saturated fats like those in coconuts and cocoa—are good for cardiovascular health,” says Bellatti. “For men interested in bodybuilding, a good intake also helps with testosterone production.”
Milk is high in calcium, and calcium is key to bone health, so pouring a glass of 2 percent at breakfast sounds like the best way to do your bones a solid. But one component is missing:vitamin K, which plays a huge role in maintaining bone health and preventing bone loss. “Once we’re full-grown adults, we need to focus on minimizing loss,” says Bellatti. “Vitamin K is crucial for that.”
Do you know what else vitamin K is crucial for? Making sure that the calcium you take in gets where it needs to go—and nowhere else. One of the vitamin’s primary functions in your body is to help calcium bind to bone matter, so it can delay deterioration. It also inhibits that same calcium from building up in your arteries, where it can contribute to heart disease.
While it’s not abundant in milk—a cup of 2 percent milk has just 0.2 mg—vitamin K is abundant in dark, leafy greens. Kale contains a whopping 1,062.1 mg per cup. As an added bonus, most of these greens also contain calcium. Just make sure you eat the right ones.
“Some greens like spinach are high in oxalates, which prevent calcium absorption,” says Bellatti. “But there are also lots of dark greens like kale and bok choy that have low levels.” These dark leafy greens’ calcium-to-magnesium ratio makes for optimal absorption of bothminerals.
It’s true that the normal American diet is high in sodium, but when it comes to lowering blood pressure, a diet of low-sodium canned soup isn’t enough to swing it back the other way. In fact, many processed low-salt foods sacrifice potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure. A study last year in the Belgian journal Acta Cardiologica went a step further, stating that upping potassium levels could balance out the deleterious effects of a high-sodium diet.
You read right: The answer might be to eat more good stuff, not just to avoid bad stuff. The takeaway: Regulate your levels with more than that occasional banana. Swiss chard, lentils, sweet potatoes, and avocados all have higher potassium levels—961 mg, 731 mg, 754 mg, and 708 mg per cup, respectively—than banana’s 422 mg, and they all have plenty of other healthy nutrients to boot.
Skipping the pretzels might trick your palette into thinking you’re lowering sodium levels, but taste isn’t everything.
A lot of food has processed sodium that simply helps to make it taste good, not just salty.
“One serving of salted peanuts has less than 10 percent of your daily sodium limit, but a lot of baked goods are high in sodium,” says Bellatti. “We just can’t taste the salt because it’s part of the cooking process.”
For example, one Dunkin Donuts corn muffin contains 770 mg of sodium, only slightly less than the 900 mg of sodium in a 10-piece McDonald’s chicken nuggets.
Protein is a must after a weight-heavy workout, but don’t forget the carbs. “Carbohydrates help restore glycogen,” says Bellatti. “Replenished glucose helps you get in optimal condition for your next workout.” Plus, you may have noticed carb-rich foods just seem to taste better after a hard training session.
To make the most of your recovery period, plan ahead and include a post-workout meal with a 1:3 or 1:4 protein-to-carb ratio. Pair a can of tuna with healthy grains, or add a couple of bananas to an otherwise low-carb protein shake.
Chicken breast and ground beef both have a lot of protein, but they are by no means the lords of the land. Dairy and legumes have their fair share, and so do grains. A cup of cooked oatmeal has about 6 grams of protein, for example, and a standard serving of vegetables has 3-4 grams.
Before you turn down your nose at the vegetarians, take note: A diet packed with nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and vegetables includes significant protein. A cup of oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter and a few tablespoons of hemp seeds stirred in registers a whopping 25 grams of protein. In contrast, one serving of turkey sausage only contains 11 grams.
The nutritional value of many vegetables ends at the point where they are converted into gelatinous cubes. Margarine and other processed butter substitutes may be plant-based, but this doesn’t mean they’re healthy.
“A lot of margarine uses soybean oil, corn oil, or even cotton oil which are some of the worst fats because they’re inflammatory and have a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio,” says Bellatti. While both of these essential fatty acids need to be consumed, they also need to be held in balance, and the standard American diet has been tilted heavily toward omega-6 fats for far too long.
“Inflammation at the cellular level is linked to a lot of chronic diseases, so when you have a high omega 6:3 ratio, the 3s—great for heart health, arteries, and blood flow—can’t do a good job,” says Bellatti. Still drawn toward plant-based fats? Stick to undeniably healthy options like coconut, avocado, sesame, and olive oil.
In the same way that eating an apple is worlds apart from eating apple pie, processed soy is a different animal—so to speak&Mdash;than fermented soy. “When soy is fermented, a lot of the anti-nutrients are not as active (and are broken down in the fermentation process). Plus, you’re getting probiotics,” says Bellatti.
Those anti-nutrients, which are plentiful in unfermented soy, are bad news for most people. One of them, phytic acid, can block the absorption of crucial nutrients. Others can cause intestinal distress and have been linked to a number of serious medical conditions.
The lesson here: Fermented soy is good soy. Bellati recommends avoiding soy isolates, as well as soy-based meat substitutes, protein bars, and cereals. Instead, seek out whole-foods counterparts like tempeh, natto, and miso. These are authentically healthy foods that can help support healthy digestion and nutrient absorption while delivering a healthy amount of protein.
The USDA might say they both count as a serving of fruit, but there’s no doubt that fruit is better eaten whole than in commercial juice. When you’re having juice, you’re primarily ingesting the sugar of the fruit.
Most of the nutrients and all of the fiber are processed out. You’re also losing plant-based phytonutrients, such as the flavonoid hesperedin, in the case of the orange. This nutrient, which is located in the pulp and peel of oranges, has been linked to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, among other benefits.
“A piece of fruit can have 50, 60, 80, 100 different phytonutrients, some of which help with heart health and some that help with inflammation,” says Bellatti. “When you’re eating something like an apple, you’re getting all of those compounds. When you’re drinking apple juice you’re not getting any of them.”
An exception to this rule is homemade fruit and vegetable juice. While you’re not getting all the fiber, juicing a cucumber with kale, celery, and half an apple cuts most of the sugar from the packaged alternative while offering plenty more nutrients.
Jack LaLanne knew best, in other words.”
“If you eat clean, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of boring and bland. That Tupperware container of perfectly-proportioned tilapia, broccoli, and brown rice could hold so much more! All it takes is a little creativity—and probably a little Sriracha. Okay, a lot of Sriracha.
Yet hot sauce only goes so far. Liven up your dining experiences with bold, Asian ingredients. These versatile flavors add fun, sweet-and-spicy zest to your healthy food. By choosing healthy dressings and spices, you can boost flavor without adding extra fat, carbs, or calories.
These recipes highlight some of my favorite Asian flavors. Get ready for a garlic, ginger, chili flake, curry, soy, rice vinegar, and Sriracha bomb!
White fish is lean and high in protein, making it great for any fat-loss or muscle-building diet. Instead of throwing it in a pan with some olive oil, try adding rice vinegar and miso paste. You’ll have a meal you’ll want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar blend
- 1 tbsp sodium-free rice vinegar
- 4 fillets of white fish (try orange roughy, tilapia, halibut or cod)
- Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and mix into a paste.
- Rinse and pat dry the fish filets.
- Place fish on broiler pan with non stick spray or tin foil.
- Spread paste mixture on top of the fish.
- Broil on high for 7 minutes.
- Serve with steamed bok choy, brown rice, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Recipe Yields 4 Servings
There’s probably no room for regular hamburgers in your fat-loss diet. Don’t despair! These turkey burgers are just the thing to tame the craving for fatty ground beef. I add some liquid aminos for an extra muscle-building pump!
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 sliced red bell pepper
- 1/4 onion chopped
- 3 green onions sliced
- 2 tbsp egg white
- 2 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low-sodium soy
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 4 leaves of butter leaf lettuce
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Form mixture into 4 oz patties.
- Grill or fry on greased pan for five minutes on each side or until thoroughly cooked.
- Wrap with butter leaf lettuce and top with your favorite sauce.
Recipe Yields 4 Servings
Almost calorie- and carb-free noodles, you say? Awesome! This spicy chicken noodle dish is a great source of protein. Enjoy its intense flavor without worrying about fat and carbs.
- 1 lb chicken breast, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 cup broccolini
- 1 package of Shirataki noodles (zero calorie “miracle noodles”)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 8 oz light coconut milk (1/2 the can)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp onion flakes
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp Thai curry paste
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- Squeeze of Sriracha
- 1 packet of Stevia or your sweetener of choice
- Heat coconut oil in large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Sauté sliced chicken for 5-7 minutes.
- Add minced garlic, red bell pepper, onion, and broccolini to pan and continue to sauté veggies until they begin to soften.
- Add all spices and continue to stir.
- Add coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, curry paste, Sriracha, and sweetener. Let simmer for three more minutes.
- Prepare noodles according to packages directions.
- Serve noodles in a bowl and top with chicken-curry mixture!
Recipe Yields 4 Servings
Store-made spring rolls are often full of calories, fat, and sodium-heavy sauces. Don’t give up on them; just make your own! Use fresh vegetables and herbs to increase the nutrition content of this tasty meal.
- 1 large chicken breast, sliced
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- Sliced ginger
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar blend
- Sriracha or chili paste (optional)
- Rice paper
- Shredded carrots
- Bean sprouts
- Cilantro or mint
- In a large Ziploc bag, mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, brown sugar blend, and Sriracha.
- Add chicken to bag and marinate for at least half an hour.
- Sauté chicken in greased pan until thoroughly cooked.
- Meanwhile, prepare rice paper wrappers according to packing.
- Lay the rice paper on a plate and arrange lettuce, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and herbs.
- Top with chicken and wrap burrito style.
Serving Size (2 rolls)
What’s easier than cooking in a Crockpot? Throw in some healthy ingredients, wait an hour, and voila! A delicious, protein-filled meal!
- 1 lb salmon
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced onion
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp ginger
- Chili flakes
- 3 green onions chopped
- Combine olive oil, soy sauce, honey, garlic, onion, sesame seeds, ginger, and chili flakes in a bowl and mix well.
- Place salmon in Crockpot with water. Pour mixture over salmon.
- Cook on low heat for one hour.
- Top with green onions and serve with brown rice and broccoli.
Recipe Yields 2-4 Servings
“Almost all books and articles you read about eating healthy on a low budget will tell you that protein foods cost the most money. This can be pretty discouraging when you’re trying to come up with simple high-protien meals to eat before or after a workout.
Fortunately, those books and articles are only partly correct. They deem proteins the most costly part of a food budget because they look almost exclusively at meats. It’s a protein-rich world, folks! It’s time to pound some alternative protein sources.
The key to eating a high-protein diet on a low-protein budget is to get strategic. Skimp on the packaged protein foods like bars and shakes, and use proteins other than meats to stretch the meat you do use. Know what you’re looking for when you go to the store, so you can do price comparisons and recognize a smokin’ deal when you see one.
Once you’ve got the hang of targeted food shopping, it requires far less work than you might expect. Plus, you’ll see the difference in your checking account right away.
There are plenty high-quality protein sources that don’t cost a lot of money. Your grandparents or other relatives who grew up during the Great Depression knew this; your baby boomer parents probably forgot it. If times are lean now, then you need to pick your staples wisely. Let’s meet the new all-stars.
If you haven’t already started eating quinoa, you should. Quinoa is actually a seed, but it’s easy to use in place of grain-based foods like pasta, rice, and oatmeal. It still has a lot of carbs, about 62 g per half-cup. Yet that same half-cup is packed with 10 g of protein, far more than other carb sources.
Quinoa is also relatively cheap, given how hip it has become in recent years. You can buy a one-pound bag of organic quinoa at the grocery store for about $5, or less if you hit the bulk bin—which you should. That’ll make about five half-cup servings. Five servings of organic steak or chicken would cost significantly more.
One of the great things about quinoa is that it can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. With a little sweetening or some fruit, it makes a great dessert or hot cereal. A handful of it can add protein and texture to a salad, and it’s a perfect ingredient for healthy baking.
Greek yogurt is another food that should be in any high-protein diet. One cup delivers as much as 14 g of protein, which is twice what you’ll find in other yogurts. Greek yogurt typically has much less sugar, but make sure to read the label to confirm. In general, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt has a good deal of sugary syrup and is best avoided. Stick with vanilla, honey, or plain yogurt and add other ingredients on your own.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s always worth repeating that eggs are the ultimate low-budget staple. One egg costs about 10 cents and has about 4-6 g of protein. If you’re watching your fat and cholesterol, two egg whites have no fat or cholesterol and 7-10 g of protein.
If you can, find someone who raises chickens, and you might be able to get an even better-tasting egg for even cheaper.
One way to eat meat protein on a budget is to use recipes that feature meat more as a flavor than as the star of the meal. Stir-fry, soups, and wraps all do this, and they’re also all great ways to use any vegetables about to turn bad. Remember: Food tossed is money lost.
Another trick: Buy what’s on sale and plan your meals around that, rather than planning a meal and then buying the ingredients at full price. If you’ve got space in your house or apartment, a small chest freezer can help you squeeze more than one meal out of a bulk buy. The freezer will pay for itself in no time, especially if you can find someone who is moving and needs to get rid of one for cheap.
While we’re talking freezers, meat is the perfect item to buy big and freeze. For instance, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be purchased at wholesale stores like Costco in packages of 8.5 pounds for about $25. This is a lot of lean protein that can be used in a variety of recipes and cooked ahead so your meals are ready and the temptation to eat out is eliminated. Even if you don’t have a Costco membership, trust me, you know someone who does.
Lean ground turkey should also be on your menu somewhere. It is low in fat, high in protein, and can be purchased in bulk packages for $15 or less for 6 pounds of meat. I can’t even begin to list all the ways you can use it, but one that springs to mind—no recipe necessary—is a lightning-fast batch of turkey tacos cooked up with onion and cumin, then topped with avocado.
Do you have to drink an expensive coffee? Do you really need to buy your veggies cut, washed, and bagged, or can you prep them yourself to save money? How much more grocery money will you have if you skip eating out at lunchtime? Take a look at your food budget and see where you can redistribute the wealth.
The most important thing to remember is that if you can’t afford much, what you buy needs to be as high-quality and as nutritious as possible. Scour the Internet for tricks to make healthy foods like vegetables last longer in the fridge. As for cheap food that’s filling but lacks nutrition, you know it’s a waste of money. So maybe the time has come draw the line.
This means more cooking for you, but I think you’re up to the task. Here are some great-tasting recipes that cost little money, are easy to prepare in 30 minutes or less, and pack a nice dose of protein.
1 / Chicken And Peppers With Brown Rice
This recipe gives you some of the flavors of your favorite takeout, but without all the fat, salt, and dough (both literal and metaphorical). This takes about 20 minutes to cook—less if you cook the rice ahead—and will cost a whopping $6 or so for two big servings.
- Prepare brown rice in the microwave per package instructions, adding 1/2 teaspoon salt before cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken breast and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Sauté chicken, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
- Add onion, red pepper, garlic and curry powder and cook for another five minutes.
- Combine chicken broth and cornstarch in a covered plastic container, shake well and add all at once to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, for about two minutes or until smooth and thickened.
- To serve, spoon 1 cup cooked rice onto a plate and top with half of the chicken and peppers.
Serving Size Makes 2 servings
2 / Quinoa And Yogurt Parfait
This recipe is great for breakfast, but it also makes a nice snack or dessert. You can cook the quinoa the night before if you’re having this for breakfast. Just reheat it in the microwave for about one minute before you put the parfait together.
The total cost for two servings is only about $3.50, and potentially significantly less if you buy the ingredients in bulk.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. Cover to keep warm.
- Peel apple and pear and cut into chunks. (You can leave the peel on if you prefer.) In a small bowl, toss fruit chunks with Stevia and cinnamon. Microwave, uncovered, for one minute.
- Spoon 1/4 cup quinoa each into the bottoms of two bowls or dessert dishes. Add 1/4 of the fruit and then 1/4 cup Greek yogurt. Add another 1/4 cup of quinoa to each dish, and another 1/4 cup yogurt. Top with remaining fruit and serve.
- Makes two servings.
Serving Size Per serving
3 / Open-Face Florentine Omelet Sandwich
Breakfast is an important meal. If you’ve been skipping it because you don’t have time, try this recipe. It takes about five minutes to make and it will provide the energy you need to start the day.
This big breakfast cost about $1.50 to make and is great for lunch or a quick dinner too.
- Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook, stirring often, for two minutes.
- Add eggs to the pan and cook, stirring frequently for about one minute or until just starting to set. Add the cottage cheese, salt and pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes until eggs are done.
- To serve, place toast on a plate and divide egg mixture between the two slices. Makes one serving.
Serving Size Per serving
4 / Chicken Hummus Wrap
This wrap is a great quick lunch that travels well, so you can take it to work or the gym. It’s a versatile recipe; add any fresh vegetables you might have on hand to bulk it up and add morefiber.
The cost is only about $2.50, and equally important, it’ll keep you out of the deli.
- Place romaine lettuce leaves in a shallow bowl of ice water for about five minutes to crisp them.
- In a small bowl, combine hummus and cumin, mixing well. Add the apple and stir to blend well.
- Lay one lettuce leaf lengthwise on a clean surface, with the widest edge closest to you. Lay three pieces of chicken breast onto the lettuce, then spoon half of the hummus mixture in a mound about two inches in from the edge.
- Roll up burrito-style and repeat with the remainder. Makes two wraps for one serving.
Serving Size Per serving
5 / Peach Protein Smoothie
This smoothie harnesses the protein power of Greek yogurt to make a sweet snack or breakfast. It takes about a minute to make and it tastes as good as anything you’ll get at a smoothie bar, for a lot less money. This can be made for about $2, or less if you find frozen peaches on sale.
- In a blender, combine the yogurt, peaches and flax seed and blend until smooth. Add the ice and blend again until thick and smooth. Makes one serving.
Serving Size Per serving