Andrew Walker. Comments and questions are welcome!
As the Summer begins to come to a close and our diets start to turn to pumpkin spice lattes and comfort food, I decided this is the best time to hit you all with some nutrition knowledge. I am going to cover my top 6 foods to have in your diet to keep you looking and feeling your best.
Eggs: The protein in eggs has the highest biological value -- a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs -- of any food. "Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits." In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. Eggs are also packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
Almonds: Almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E -- the form that's best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because "vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent damage after workouts.” Two handfuls a day of almonds are enough. A Toronto University study found that men can eat this amount daily without gaining any weight. Recently a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those men who consumed the most vitamin E--from food sources, not supplements -- had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those eating the least vitamin E.
Salmon: Salmon is full of high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Omega-3's can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery," says Tom Incledon, R.D., a nutritionist with Human Performance Specialists. This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff.
Yogurt: "Yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth," says Doug Kalman, R.D., director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates. Buy regular -- not sugar-free -- with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown.
Olive Oil: "The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolic nutrient.” In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a cellular protein which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness. While all olive oil is high in monosaturated fats, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the regular stuff.
Water: Muscle is approximately 80 percent water. "Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery.” For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein.
Make sure to stay tuned next Monday for Part 2 of my nutrition guide! Let me know what your favorite ways to use some of these foods in the comments below!