7 Foods That’ll Help Boost Your Strength

We all want to be stronger, but did you know that exercise is not the only way to help build your muscles? Eating a diet that’s chock-full of protein and vitamin-rich foods can also help build your strength and increase your bodies ability to maintain lead muscle mass. We’re haring 7 of our favourite strength-boosting foods here.

1. Whole Organic or Free Range Eggs

Eggs are a budget-friendly and high-quality source of protein, vitamins and choline, which boosts brain health. One whole large egg has close to 7 g of high-quality protein and is ultra-versatile. We suggest purchasing organic or free-range eggs and cooking them up for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. One of our favourite strength-boosting breakfasts? One hard-boiled egg and one sliced avocado (with a sprinkle of flaked sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper).

2. Salmon

Salmon is by far one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are necessary for both healthy brain power and a healthy nervous system. A typical serving of wild salmon boasts a whopping 20 g of high-quality protein and is rich in vitamin B12 and D and selenium. An added bonus? The fatty acids found in salmon may help reduce the risk of depression and may help ward off cognitive decline as we age. And, making salmon is a cinch. Simply preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, cracked black pepper, lemon zest and freshly chopped herbs. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until salmon is opaque and cooked through (it will easily flake). Serve with cooked quinoa and steam veggies or a large kale salad for a flavour-packed and strength-boosting dinner.

3. Raw Nuts & Seeds

Raw nuts and seeds are energy powerhorses. They contain high levels of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, fiber, protein and vitamins including magnesium, zinc and potassium. They are serious power-houses when it comes to building strength in your body. Abundant in healthy fats and protein, a handful of raw almonds, cashews or walnuts, or a sprinkle of flax, chia or hemp seeds over your morning oatmeal or smoothie-bowl, will help maintain energy levels throughout the day and give you an energy boost if your heading to spin or yoga class.

4. Spinach & Greens

Spinach is a superfood unlike many others. This super leafy green is an excellent source of magnesium. Additionally, iron-rich dark leafy greens–including spinach–are essential for bone health, they help give you smooth skin and shiny hair and they provide a good dose of protein. Spinach is also a highly alkaline food.

5. High Quality Red Meat

Red meat has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Due in part to the rise in popularity of macro and vegan-style diets, many people believe that in order to be healthy, we must steer clear of red meat. And, while we certainly agree with the health benefits of vegan and macro diets and the suggestion to eat less red meat overall, we also believe that red meat (especially high quality, organic and grass fed beef) absolutley has its benefits and can have a place in a healthy diet. It’s packed with iron, protein and Vitamin B12 which helps build our muscles. We suggest limiting your red meat consumption to 1-2x/week.

6. Quinoa

Super easy to prepare, quinoa not only packs 8 grams of high-quality protein and 5 grams of fiber per 1-cup serving, it’s also one of the few plant foods that is considered a complete protein (which means it contains all the essential amino acids your body can’t naturally produce). Quinoa is coated with a toxic chemical called saponin, therefore it’s very important to rinse it thoroughly before cooking (under cool running water), and it’s best to consume it only 2 to 3 times/week. Although not commonly thought of as an allergenic food, quinoa does contain oxalates, which puts it on the caution list for an oxalate-restricted diet. But the best part about quinoa is that it’s gluten-free. So, if you’re gluten intolerant or just trying to avoid wheat-containing foods, quinoa is a great alternative to both couscous and bulgur.

7. Full-Fat Natural Yogurt

Yogurt (we’re talking about the full-fat, Greek-style, all natural, low-sugar variety, NOT the aspartame/sugar-loaded fruit varieties here) is loaded with calcium, a bone-building mineral. Calcium also helps boost our inner body strength by helping us get a restful sleep because it helps the body to use the tryptophan found in dairy to help trigger sleep. Tryptophan is important to the production of serotonin, which in turn is important to the production of melatonin. Yogurt also contains gut-friendly bacteria that help improve your gastrointestinal health and protect our immune system.

10 Foods for Building Strong Bones and Muscles

Eating right is about more than managing your weight. You’ve got to take in the right balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep all the systems in your body functioning properly, and to keep your bones and muscles strong and healthy.

In our weight-focused culture, it’s easy to get so focused on the fat and calories in the food we eat that we fail to consider how a particular meal will affect the entire body. Do you know what nutrients were in your last meal? How will that meal help keep your body’s structure strong?

Build strong bones

As we age, our bones become more brittle and muscles become weaker, but a nutritious diet now can help preserve bone and muscle strength. For strong bones, your body needs two key nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is the mineral that strengthens bones and teeth, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium while improving bone growth.

Adults should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day. If you’re over 50, make that 1,200mg of calcium and 400 to 600 IUs of vitamin D daily.

While both calcium and vitamin D can be taken in supplements, it’s best to get them through a natural diet. What foods should you be eating? Here are five of the best foods for healthy bones:

  1. Yogurt. Most yogurts are fortified with vitamin D, and depending on the brand, you could get 30 percent of your daily calcium intake from yogurt.
  2. Milk. Though it’s a staple in kids’ diets, many adults don’t drink milk. An eight-ounce glass of fat-free milk will provide you with 30 percent of your daily dose of calcium. Buy milk fortified with vitamin D, and you’ll get even more benefits.
  3. Salmon and Tuna. Not only is it good for your heart, but salmon is also good for your bones! Just three ounces of sockeye salmon contains more than your full daily dose of vitamin D. Tuna is another great source of vitamin D, although it doesn’t contain quite as much as salmon (just about 39 percent of your daily dose).
  4. Spinach. Don’t skip out on the greens, especially spinach. Just one cup of cooked spinach contains 25 percent of the daily recommended dose of calcium. It also contains plenty of fiber, iron and vitamin A. If you just can’t stomach spinach, make a fruit smoothie and add handful of fresh spinach. You’ll never know it’s there!
  5. Fortified foods. Store-bought foods like orange juice and some cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and calcium. Just check the labels to be sure what you’re buying will actually be beneficial to building strong bones.

Strengthen your muscles outside the gym

Strength-training workouts at the gym are great for building muscle strength and endurance, but your muscles also need proper nutrition or what you do in the gym won’t matter much. Just like your bones need vitamin D and calcium, your muscles need protein to stay strong and healthy.

According to the CDC, women should get about 46 grams of protein each day, while men need about 56 grams daily. In general, 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from protein. If you’re trying to stay lean, the more protein the better. Protein builds muscle and muscle burns fat.

Five of the best sources of protein are:

  1. Lean meats. A big, juicy steak may sound delicious, but if you’re trying to get the most out of your meat, stick to chicken, pork and lean cuts of red meat.
  2. Fish. Salmon is an excellent source of lean protein, and you’ll get the dual benefit of strengthening both your bones and your muscles when you have salmon for dinner!
  3. Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt doesn’t contain the calcium and vitamin D that regular yogurt has in it, but it is packed full of protein. In fact, there are about 24 grams of protein in one cup of plain Greek yogurt! Keep the calorie count low by topping plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or nuts for some added flavor.
  4. Eggs. A breakfast without eggs really isn’t breakfast at all. And although you can cut calories by eating the whites only, the yolk is the source of everything that’s good for you in eggs, including calcium and protein.
  5. Nut butter. Peanut butter and almond butter are great when you need a protein-powered snack on the go. Slice up and apple and spread on your favorite nut butter for a simple, yet delicious, snack.

No matter how old you are, it’s never too early to start focusing on eating right to keep your bones and muscles strong and healthy. By eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, you can help prevent osteoporosis, and protein will give you both strength and energy to enjoy life.

Coconut oil

This fat has a high amount of “medium-chained” fats that make it easily digestible (compared to other dietary fats) providing a readily available source of energy in the body. “Coconut oil naturally increases metabolism, allowing for more energy to be burned by the body and boosts athletic performance. It also promotes healthy thyroid function and removes pancreatic stress—all translating to a more active you,” says Jercich. Add a few tablespoons to your smoothie pre-workout.

Bananas

They are a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte your body needs but loses during exercise. In a study performed at Appalachian State University, bananas were found to be just as helpful in fueling cyclists during intense exercise as were carbohydrate sports drinks. It’s also great for preventing muscle fatigue. Opt for a banana instead of an energy bar before your next workout—it’s a nutrient-dense and natural option.

Eggs

Eggs, especially if both yolk and white are consumed, can be an excellent whole-food choice to provide micronutrients and protein. Dietary protein is important because it provides our bodies with amino acids, which can help build muscles and nourish the body. Ravi Machado, certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor based in Burlingame, Calif. says, “Eat a few soft or hard-boiled eggs with some carbohydrates within a 45-minute window of working out to help offset the cortisol response and prevent muscle breakdown.”

Salmon

Fish is another healthy protein that can be eaten after exercising to prevent catabolism (muscle breakdown). Fresh, wild fish, like salmon, sardines and mackerel are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids—”good” fats that have been shown to help the body fight off inflammation. Many athletes are prone to inflammatory conditions as a result of over-training, leading to sore muscles and possible injuries. By eating more salmon and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, you can help prevent or decrease inflammation and pain.

Walnuts

Are you a non-fish eater? Walnuts are another way of getting heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Good fats are necessary and vital to achieve optimal fitness and health. According to Udo Erasmus in Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, healthy fats can help with “energy production, healing of tissue injuries, sprains and bruises” while unhealthy fats “can interfere with health and slow down athletic performance.” The choice is yours. Try adding a handful of walnuts to your home-made trail mix before heading outdoors.

Grass-fed beef

This nutrient-dense food is great in moderation. It provides amino acids and protein to help with post-exercise recovery and beef is chock full of iron, which provides the body energy. “Beef from grass-fed cattle have much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally-raised cattle and gives you a boost in shedding body fat and building lean muscle,” says Jercich. Your best bet: 4-6 ounces of grass-fed beef post workout.

Coconut water

If you’re someone who finds water boring, give coconut water a try. It only has a mild coconut flavor and is a natural source of electrolytes. Many electrolyte and sports drinks on the market are full of refined sugars that can contribute to weight gain and diabetes. Machado says, “Coconut water is the ideal beverage to consume before and during exercise because less volume of liquid is needed to provide the beneficial minerals, therefore alleviating the feeling of fullness or bloating that other beverages may cause, interfering with optimal exercise performance.” Avoid the unnecessary calories and opt for 6-8 ounces of unsweetened coconut water to replenish.

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Avocados

This fruit provides healthy doses of fat that an active body will utilize as fuel to power through a grueling day or workout. It’s also rich in vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, folic acid and B6. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and can support the adrenal glands, which can be overworked during times of stress. While B vitamins are responsible for many functions in body, they are most often thought of as the ‘stress and energy’ vitamins. Your body goes through a lot of stress during a workout, so this is kind of the magic fruit. Before your work out, have half an avocado mashed with some lemon juice and sea salt.

Olive oil

Is this really a surprise? Olive oil is constantly praised for its health-promoting properties—increasing healthy cholesterol levels, fighting free-radical damage, protecting the blood vessels. “For some elite athletes who are pushing themselves to the limit and needing to consume a large amount of calories daily to keep up with the energy expended, adding a few tablespoons of pure, extra virgin olive oil to food that’s already been cooked can be a healthy way to add nutrient-dense calories and good fats to a meal,” says Machado.

Matcha

A powdered green tea from Japan, matcha is actually better than regular types of green tea. It contains five times the amount of the amino acid l-theanine, which promotes a relaxed, yet focused mental state. Although matcha contains caffeine (like all green teas), there is enough l-theanine to cut the jitters. The result: Intense focus and high energy without the nervous ticks. Though coffee may have some health benefits, green tea has more antioxidants to help fend off disease and protect against oxidative stress. Whisk half a teaspoon into 6-8 ounces of hot water for tea or in steamed milk for a latte.

Acai berries

A fruit native to Central and South America, acai is high in antioxidants and a good source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which are important for staving off disease. “Acai berries will help sustain the body during times of exercise, providing a natural sugar source. It’s a good alternative to consuming sugary sports gels that are processed and lacking in vitamins and minerals,” says Machado. An hour before exercise, blend 3.5 ounces frozen acai pulp, a banana and a small amount of hemp protein for a smoothie that will fuel the body for any sport .

Kale

This powerhouse of vitamin K, C, calcium, manganese and dietary fiber should be a staple in every active person’s diet. “Kale is a great superfood to eat if you are active and athletic due to its high antioxidant levels, which can help increase blood oxygen levels, thus increasing physical stamina,” says Machado. Try to eat more antioxidant-rich foods such as kale to enhance your athletic performance—one cup with any meal will do the trick.

Raisins

A portable, tasty snack that provides antioxidants to minimize inflammation. What’s not to like? Consider raisins a healthy carbohydrate option that will provide energy for a longer, harder workout. Add a handful to your trail mix or just eat plain before you hit the gym.

Cottage cheese

This source of protein can provide all the necessary amino acids your body needs to rebuild muscle and tissues after exercising. A vegetarian-friendly protein source, cottage cheese also contains other nutrients that can help support an active lifestyle: calcium, tryptophan, vitamin B12 and selenium. Enjoy a cup post workout for best results.

Apricots

“Often times I’ll see clients who skip a meal before working out with the thought that they will burn more fat. The issue with this is that many times these same clients will experience a lack of energy, dizziness or even nausea during the workout, hindering their ability to take their workout to the next level, which may be needed to achieve their desired health goals. Even a simple snack such as an apricot pre-workout will provide some essential nutrients and quick-digesting fuel to prevent these symptoms,” say Machado.

Mike Nguyen is a nutrition educator and certified holistic nutrition consultant based in San Francisco, Calif. You can follow him on his blog or on twitter.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

22 Simple Diet & Fitness Tips to Tone Your Body

  1. Tone your body without hazards – You can tone up your body by controlling your weight and appearance without rigorous workouts or daily visits to the gym rather only by a well balanced diet. For toning your body as well as to get an attractive shape and appearance, you should follow a proper diet & some sort of home based workout or simple exercises. Here are some suggestions for all, particularly for the young.
  2. Basic Advice fruits & vegetables – I advice that in every meal you add plenty of vegetables, at least 2 servings of 300 gm fruits like 2 pcs of banana/day, 1 apple, berries, 1 +1 citrus fruit etc. Divide this two times a day around 11 am and 3 pm every day or best suitable times. Don’t take too much at a time but reasonable portions. You should eat 50 gm dry fruits like peanuts, almonds, pecans or simple nuts etc.
  3. Deep & regular sleep – Please ensure that you get 8 hours of deep or tight sleep. It is also important to follow early to go bed & early to rise concept, even when you are too busy in your multinational company’s computer work or studies. Avoid stress & depression which are enemies of sleep. Do not practice to have any medicine to get sleep as most of the medicines are recommended for patients for depression or other disorders.
  4. Water consumption – Drink 3-4 litres of fresh drinking water as per season everyday except if you are a patient who is on a fluid or water intake limitation. Drink water 3-5 mins later after each meal to avoid gas/indigestion except urgent need or if you are thirsty during meals.
  5. Carbs, protein & fat – You need 60-70% Carbohydrate – rice/roti/cereals etc. It can be a little more as per weight. Also you need proteins, mainly animal proteins like fish (5 days) & chicken (2 days in a week – 75 gm each) & egg 1 pc daily either at breakfast or at dinner. Visible fat like cooking oils must be PUFA based like Sunflower/Olive oil. Mustard oil can also be used to a certain limit.
  6. Best Breakfast – Eat 2 pcs of solid brown breads/Roti or Phulka + mix veg or rice flakes with sour tasted curd + 1 sweet + Banana or 2 pcs of Idly /1 pc plain Dosa. In breakfast, what you eat should be healthy. You can add 1 egg, 200 ml double-toned/skim milk. Consume milk only before or after 15 mins of breakfast.
  7. Mid day snacks – You should add one citrus & one another type fruit. Good quality plain veg (3 days) & non veg (3 days) soup, as an appetizer, at around 11 am. Soup or stew can also be taken in the evening time around 8 pm if possible as per convenience.
  8. Non veg Lunch – Remember you should always consume a balanced combination of carbohydrate + protein + fat like khichdi, good quality rice/4-6 pcs Chapati homemade OR homemade pulao/basmati rice with 1-2 types of green vegetables + pulses 25 gm + fish/chicken/mutton 75-100 gm per day (anyone).
  9. Veg Lunch If you are a vegetarian then go for soya/soya products, enough green veggies or paneer, cheese, chana, tarka, pulses legumes etc.
  10. Mid-afternoon snacks – you can have fruits like papaya/guava or any citrus fruits.
  11. Evening Meals – At around 6 pm, one can have green tea and cream cracker biscuits or another high quality snack, including the snacks mentioned above. You can have poha/ porridge/ cornflakes/ rice flakes with curd. Do not add any fried foods, spicy fast or junk foods as your evening meal.
  12. Dinner – Roti/Chapati/Phulka 3-4 pcs OR 2 pcs roti+ 50 gm rice same balance + pulses 25 gm soupy + 1 serving mix veg + any high quality protein preparation (as discussed) egg/fish & for vegetarian pulses/ soya/dairy foods or one more veg recipe as an alternative.
  13. Bed Time -milk/milk products 150 ml or chana in case of Lactose intolerance which nowadays is a common problem.
  14. Often Overlooked- 300 ml of milk/milk products are needed, divided over two or three doses in a day. You can add 2 tsf/20gm butter or ghee in lunch or dinner as your staple meals. Always chew well & then engulf to get better digestion & maximum absorption.
  15. Fruits – One should have three types of fruits like lemon, guava, grapes, apple or banana in a balanced combination as dressings/whole as you like in a day. Take plenty of green vegetables like some local greens or other veggies.
  16. Limit your spices, salt and oil – Do not consume too much salt, fried masala. Home made spices are better although you can use upto 2 tsf of branded quality packet spices. Best oils are PUFA based (Poly unsaturated fatty acid) like sunflower, white oil, soy oil, rice bran or mustard oil but not coconut oil, rapeseed or palm oil. As per studies olive oil is the best choice. You can add 3-4 tsf in the whole day for individual consumption but not for an entire family .
  17. Avoid junk, all fast foods – Strictly avoid all fried foods, no junk, street foods, processed foods. Even occasional outside hotel or restaurant foods is also not good to consume. Cake, pastries, butter, chocolates can be consumed in small quantities, but avoid foods that contain trans fats and too much of saturated fats.
  18. Small but frequent meals – One should have all kinds of foods in mild to moderate quantity, and it should be planned in every 2-3 hours that means 7 to 8 meals in a day.
  19. Supplements – you can buy any established brand of high-quality standard protein pack (as common demand for boys) & needless to say such product must not have side effects. (Only recommended by Dietitian). If you need it then take them at breakfast and at bedtime – 2 scoops each time with lukewarm water or milk as preferred.
  20. No open market supplements – I also advise that there is no need for slimming medicines or similar supplements which usually has side effects, as well as some unknown complications from person to person. Even in the long run, these may lead to some disorders, primarily in females, as per observations.
  21. Avoid stress and late night work – Do not work late as late night work creates indigestion, dull skin, tired face, and premature greying of hair.
  22. Dynamic lifestyles, normal working & timely meals – Always remain active during working hours. You can go to gym or not but timely home based simple exercises like yoga/ walking 1-2 km daily is very helpful. Don’t take the stress, be disciplined and active. Drink water 3-5 mins later after each meal.

Avocados
The cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat in these green health bombs can help keep your body strong and pain free. University of Buffalo researchers found that competitive women runners who ate less than 20 percent fat were more likely to suffer injuries than those who consumed at least 31 percent. Peter J. Horvath, Ph.D., a professor at the university, speculates that the problem is linked to extreme low-fat diets, which weaken muscles and joints. “A few slices of avocado a day are a great way to boost fat for women who are fat shy,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Bananas
Thanks to bananas’ high potassium content, peeling one is a speedy solution to that stitch in your side. While a lack of sodium is the main culprit behind muscle cramps, studies show potassium plays a supporting role: You need it to replace sweat losses and help with fluid absorption. Bananas are also packed with energizing carbohydrates. One medium-size fruit has 400 milligrams of potassium and as many carbs (29 grams) as two slices of whole-wheat bread.

Berries
USDA researchers recently placed fresh berries on their list of the 20 foods richest in antioxidants. Just a handful of blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries is an excellent source of these potent nutrients, which protect muscles from free radical damage that might be caused by exercise. Shop for berries by the shade of their skin: The deeper the color, the healthier the fruit.

Carrots
Close your eyes and they almost taste like crunchy candy. Carrots pack complex carbs that provide energy to muscles and potassium to control blood pressure and muscle contractions, says Leslie Bo.

Whole Grain Cereal
Looking for something to nosh before you hit the gym? Raid your cereal stash. The healthiest brands contain endurance-boosting complex carbs and muscle-building protein. Sixty minutes before a workout, fuel up with a 200-calorie snack: ¾ cup of whole-grain cereal with 4 ounces of fat-free milk. “When you eat something before exercising, you have more energy, so you can work out harder and perhaps longer. And you’ll be less likely to overeat afterward,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D.

Chicken Thighs
Skimp on iron and zinc and your energy will flag. Cooking up some juicy chicken thighs or turkey drumsticks is the best way to get more of both. “Dark-meat poultry is significantly lower in fat than red meat yet has all the iron, zinc, and B vitamins that women need in their diets,” says Seattle sports nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., author of Power Eating.

Hummus
Complex carbohydrates, protein, and unsaturated fats—all the right elements to fuel activity—meet in one healthy little 70-calorie, 3-tablespoon package. Plus, hummus is often made with olive oil, which contains oleic acid—a fat that helps cripple the gene responsible for 20 to 30 percent of breast cancers, according to Northwestern University researchers.

Eggs
Don’t skip the yolk. One egg a day supplies 215 milligrams of cholesterol—not enough to push you over the 300-milligram daily cholesterol limit recommended by the American Heart Association. Plus, the yolk is a good source of iron, and it’s loaded with lecithin, critical for brain health, says nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D. What does brain power have to do with exercise? Try doing a sun salutation without it.

Chocolate Milk
There’s way more to milk than just calcium. In fact, it’s a damn near perfect food, giving you a lot of valuable energy while keeping your calorie count low, says nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D. The chocolate kind is loaded with calcium, vitamins, and minerals just like the plain stuff, but new studies confirm that milk with a touch of cocoa is as powerful as commercial recovery drinks at replenishing and repairing muscles.

Salmon
Great for heart health, but here’s an added twist: New studies are suggesting that monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats might help lessen abdominal fat. It’s too soon to understand the link, but “this could be particularly good for women working to tone their core,” says nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D.

It’s true. You really are what you eat. And that’s why some days you end up feeling more like a cream-filled Twinkie than the lean cut of beef you aspire to.

But you probably already know that. That’s why, like all of us, you’re most likely trying to clean up your act and start eating healthy. But the truth is, that’s just not enough. Because if you’re gorging yourself on apples, bananas, and salads made with iceberg lettuce, you may be eating healthy-but you’re not eating smart.

In order to build the body you want (the thunderous arms and the rock-hard abs, the lightning-quick brain and the unquenchable libido) you need to make every bite of food you put in your mouth count. That means building your diet around the most potent, nutrient-dense, disease-fighting, muscle-growing foods around.

But where do you start? And what foods are the absolute fittest? To find out, we decided to put some of the nation’s top nutritionists to the test.

First, we polled 40 of the country’s most respected health experts—registered dietitians, college nutrition professors, and authors—asking them each: What are the 20 most important foods every guy should include in his diet for maximum fitness? Then, as the results rolled in, we ranked our experts’ recommendations.

We not only tell you which foods made the list, but how much of each you should eat on a weekly basis. So read on to see how you can make your diet more fit.

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How to Get Back in Shape Again at Any Age – The 5 Step Formula

Learning how to get back in shape is possible at any age. All you need to do is follow the 5 principles laid out in this article, and you’ll be back to your old self in no time.

When most people want to get back in shape, their initial step is to totally change their diet and start a grueling exercise routine.

In most cases, this will come to an abrupt end after 2 or 3 weeks, when you get tired of eating salad, and you’re so sore you can hardly move.

Maybe you’ve been in this situation in the past?

There are 5 VERY important steps to take before you move onto diet and exercise and these are the steps that are most often overlooked.

These 5 steps are explored in-depth below.

Mindset shows you how to get back in shape by getting you to answer the questions about why you are starting this journey and what will keep you going during tough times.

Getting enough sleep is the step that helps your body recover, rebuild and re-stabilize important hormone levels.

A healthy eating plan makes sure you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy, feel good, be energized and re-build muscles.

A formal exercise schedule helps you to get and remain fit, build a strong and healthy body and improve your natural movement.

Adding supplements to your meal plan will optimize your health and recovery.

Let’s dive more into these 5 important steps, so you can see how they will impact your progress for getting back in shape.

Step #1 – Get into the right Mindset.

Mindset is the first step on your journey to get back in shape and will help you strengthen your motivation and keep you disciplined during the times when you want to give up and stuff yourself with cakes and biscuits.

Essentially, you need to ask yourself an important question, which is “Why?”.

It’s usually the first question you ask yourself when you think of giving something up, so knowing the answer and having it be strong enough to keep you going will be paramount.

I’m sure you’ve been there before: “God, why am I doing this?”

If your answer is a flimsy one, like “Because I want to look good”, it will only keep you going for so long.

There is no emotion there and once you get to looking ‘pretty good’, you’ll probably be happy and will have no drive to fulfill your potential.

If your answer has substance behind it though, like “Because I want to show all the people that poked fun at me for being overweight, that I can be in great shape and look amazing”, you have an emotional connection to your goal and nothing will stop you.

Knowing why you are starting a weight loss program, or a muscle gain program will empower you and every time you ask yourself why you are doing it, you will have a solid answer to remind yourself.

Prepare a 30-day mission statement.

To get yourself in the right mindset and to give yourself your true ‘Why’ answer, we recommend preparing a 30 day mission statement, detailing exactly what you want to achieve and why.

Firstly, think about what your current habits towards healthy eating and exercise are costing you. Think about the emotional cost, the physical cost and the time cost.

Then, visualize and imagine what the benefits will be if you change your habits and achieve your goals. Add these to your 30 day mission.

An example could be:

“In the next 30 days, I will focus on improving my eating plan and exercising 2-3 times per week, so I can create the habits necessary to lose weight, improve my health, have more confidence in myself and be in a better state of mind.

I’m sure this will make me a happier and more positive person, which will have positive effects on my relationships at home and at work. I accept the costs of spending the time to prepare nutritious meals and to exercise, as it will give me the benefits of better health and longevity.”

Having your mission statement written or printed out and put in a prominent place, where you will see it daily, will be really helpful to keep your focus on why you are undertaking this journey.

Step #2 – Get enough sleep to rest and recover

There is a lot of speculation around how much sleep you should get, to make sure your body rests and recovers to its optimal level.

As it is such an important part of your daily process, you should sleep an absolute minimum of 7 hours, preferably 8.

Being sleep deprived will be counter-productive to any steps you are taking to lose weight, and although it will not completely negate them, it will have a negative effect.

Sleep is what helps your body to recover and recharge at the end of every day. Any stresses you have put on your body are fixed, and your hormone levels are re-balanced.

Hormones like HGH (Human Growth Hormone), which is responsible for helping to burn fat, and Ghrelin and Leptin, which manage fullness and hunger, all need sleep time to balance and regenerate.

What if I don’t get enough sleep?

If you’re sleep deprived, these hormones do not balance properly, and your body will end up holding on to fat, you will get cravings and you will not feel satiated when you eat, leading to you eating larger portions.

If you have trouble sleeping, take a look at our article titled ‘3 Tips to Sleep Better – Wake Up With More Energy, Pep & Motivation’.

It may feel counter-intuitive to sleep more when you want to lose weight, but it really is one of the best things you can do to help your body naturally reset and aid fat loss.

Step #3 – A healthy eating plan is more effective than exercise for fat loss.

When it comes to starting a healthy eating plan, you should make sure that what you undertake is not restrictive, is easy and is sustainable for the long-term.

Going on a crash diet to lose 10lb, just to put it all back on again when you return to your old habits, is a big waste of time. Don’t be pulled in to this type of dieting.

Here at the Fit Father Project, we have a very simple and straightforward healthy eating strategy that we call ‘Perfect Plates’.

It simply requires you to prepare your plate with the following foods:

  • ½ your plate is vegetables
  • ¼ of your plate is a healthy protein
  • ¼ of your plate is a healthy carbohydrate
  • A small portion of a healthy fat (fish oil, 1 tbsp. olive oil, ¼ of an avocado)

Some of our favourite sources of these food groups are:

Vegetables: Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Rocket

Protein: Chicken, Eggs, Turkey, Sardines, Wild Salmon, Lean Beef

Carbohydrates: Quinoa, Sweet Potato, Brown Rice, Ezekiel Bread, Whole-wheat pasta

If you want to take advantage of our free resource that shows you what to eat for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner, you can download our 1-Day Meal Plan with our compliments.

FREE 1-Day Weight Loss Meal Plan For Men 40+

Lose weight. Eat like a man. Enjoy your life. Over 55,000 men are using this.

Get yourself back into great shape – at any age the Fit Father way. The idea behind our perfect plates approach is that you can select one type of each food for each meal and combine them to make delicious, easy meals.

To make it even easier, we recommend you do a meal prep exercise twice weekly, to prepare all the food you will need for the coming 3 days.

If you store the food, it will always be handy when you need it, and you will not find yourself rooting around in the refrigerator or cupboards for your next meal.

If you have the decision already handled, you are much less likely to choose something on the go and are much more likely to build the habit of taking the healthy option.

Creating this habit will make it a more sustainable and long-term plan and one less thing to think about each day. Your food decisions only need to be made twice per week.

Step #4 – Start an exercise plan that you can build up gradually.

One of the most important things to do when you start an exercise plan is to start slowly and build up gradually. If you start too intensely, you will get sore or injured, and it will put you off of exercising.

It’s possible that this happened to you before and that is why you’re now learning how to get back in shape again. If that’s the case, listen to our advice and you’ll be back on track in no time.

Starting too quickly and feeling sore can be extremely depressing as it makes you wonder whether it’s all worth the effort.

Starting gradually will help you to avoid this feeling and is more likely to keep you moving in a positive direction.

My recommendation is to start with 2-3 structured workouts each week, combining cardio-vascular exercise and resistance work.

The cardio will help get your blood flowing, will help you burn fat and will increase your cardiovascular capacity.

The resistance work will increase lean muscle mass, which in turn will improve your metabolic rate and help you burn fat even at rest.

We have a great free workout that you can follow to get started that combines resistance training and cardio in a format called Metabolic Resistance Training.

To get your free copy of this amazing 24-minute fat burning workout video, click on the link and simply tell us the best email address to send it to.

Once you have developed the habit of working out 3 times per week, for 25-30 minutes, you can start scaling up the intensity and the number of sessions you perform.

Step #5 – Add supplements to your plan to boost the benefits.

Once you have got the 4 key principles above, under your belt, you can introduce supplements into your plan, to help boost the benefits further.

At the Fit Father Project, we recommend 5 core supplements that will help your efforts.

These are:

  • A quality Multivitamin or Greens powder
  • Fish Oil
  • Vitamin D3
  • Probiotic
  • Protein powder

Multivitamin:

Although you should be getting everything through your natural diet, a quality multivitamin or Greens powder is a backup solution to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body in good health.

Fish-oil:

Fish oil supplementation has an abundance of health benefits, including decreasing inflammation, lowering LDL cholesterol, raising HDL cholesterol, and enhancing brain function to name a few.

For more information on the benefits and see our product recommendations, check out our article titled The 4 Best Fish Oil Products for Men.

Vitamin D3:

Vitamin D3 is often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as your body produces it naturally when subjected to sunlight.

However, supplementing with it can be beneficial, especially for stronger bones, improved muscle function and less muscle atrophy, decreased risk of certain cancers and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Probiotic:

Your body will thank you for supplementing with probiotics, especially your gut.

Probiotics help with improving digestive function, healing inflammatory bowel conditions and boosting your immune system.

If you suffer from any symptoms of an uncomfortable stomach, then you need to supplement with probiotics today.

Protein powder:

Protein powder can be used to prepare shakes that will replace a particular meal, possibly breakfast, as a convenient way to make sure you are getting enough protein each day to support muscle growth or maintenance.

Summary:

So there you have it, 4 simple steps (plus 1 bonus step!) that show you exactly how to get back in shape at any age.

Step #1 – Proper mindset
Step #2 – Right amount of sleep
Step #3 – Good healthy eating plan
Step #4 – Progressive exercise plan
Step #5 – Supplementation plan

We don’t provide you with anything gimmicky here at the Fit Father Project, just simple, straightforward advice that can be implemented and to get you back in shape in the most efficient and effective way.

We want to be your one-stop resource for everything health and fitness related. Come back and visit us regularly to learn more.

We put new information on the website each day and also provide exercise tutorial videos and other bonus videos on our YouTube channel throughout the week.

If you have found this article useful, please help us by sharing it with your friends on social media, using the social buttons on the left or below. We really appreciate it.

Until next time my friend, good luck with getting back in shape.

THE 30-Day Health Program for Men 40+

Fit Father 30X is the world’s first sustainable weight loss plan for fathers.

Get yourself back into great shape – at any age the Fit Father way.

Your new friend & health coach,

Stuart Carter
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide’, Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty. If you’re interested in a proven and completely laid out “done-for-you” weight loss meal plan & workout routine – designed for you as a busy man…

I’d recommend you read the program overview letter for our Fit Father 30-Day Program (FF30X).
Inside FF30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Father Meal Plan
  • The metabolism boosting Fit Father 30X Workout (under 90 min/week)
  • VIP email coaching where I’ll personally walk you through the program

Read the FF30X Program overview letter here to see how our plan can help you lose weight – without the complication & restriction of normal diets.

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on how to get back in shape.

Over the course of his career, Mayer’s pioneering studies – on rats, babies and schoolgirls – demonstrated that the less active someone was, the more likely they were to be fat. Mayer himself, the son of two eminent physiologists, and a Second World War hero to boot, became one of the world’s leading figures in nutrition and most influential voices in the sphere of public health. As an advisor to the White House and to the World Health Organisation, he drew correlations between exercise and fitness that triggered a revolution in thinking on the subject in the 60s and 70s. “Getting fit” became synonymous not just with healthier living, but with a leaner, meaner body, and the ground was laid for a burgeoning gym industry.

Each successive postwar generation was enjoying an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and those lifestyles have been accompanied by an apparently inexorable increase in obesity. Three in five UK adults are now officially overweight. And type II diabetes, which used to be a disease that affected you at the end of your life, is now the fastest-rising chronic disorder in paediatric clinics.

But have we confused cause and effect? Terry Wilkin, professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, argues that we have. The title of his latest research is: “Fatness leads to inactivity, but inactivity does not lead to fatness”. Wilkin is nearing the end of an 11-year study on obesity in children, which has been monitoring the health, weight and activity levels of 300 subjects since the age of five. When his team compared the more naturally active children with the less active ones, they were surprised to discover absolutely no difference in their body fat or body mass.

That’s not to say that exercise is not making the children healthy in other ways, says Wilkin, just that it’s having no palpable effect on their overall size and shape. “And that’s a fundamental issue,” he adds, “because governments, including ours, use body mass as an outcome measure.” In other words, obesity figures are not going to improve through government-sponsored programmes that focus primarily on exercise while ignoring the behemoth of a food industry that is free to push high-calorie junk to kids (and, for that matter, adults).

For one thing, Wilkin believes he has discovered another form of “compensation”, similar to Timothy Church’s discovery that we reward ourselves with food when we exercise. Looking at the question of whether it was possible to change a child’s physical activity, Wilkin’s team put accelerometers on children at schools with very different PE schedules: one which offered 1.7 hours a week, and another that offered nine hours.

“The children did 64% more PE at the second school. But when they got home they did the reverse. Those who had had the activity during the day flopped and those who hadn’t perked up, and if you added the in-school and out-of-school together you got the same. From which we concluded that physical activity is controlled by the brain, not by the environment – if you’re given a big opportunity to exercise at one time of day you’ll compensate at another.”

Wilkin argues that the environmental factors we tend to obsess about in the fight against obesity – playing fields, PE time in school, extracurricular activities, parental encouragement – are actually less of a factor in determining what exercise we do than our own bodies. “An evolutionary biologist would say physical activity is the only voluntary means you have of varying or regulating your energy expenditure. In other words, what physical activity you do is not going to be left to the city council to decide. It’s going to be controlled, fundamentally, from within.”

His thesis has caused controversy among his peers – there have been cavils that his study sample is inconclusively small – and not all obesity experts appreciate the message. “We haven’t had the sensitivity in the studies to really determine the longitudinal determinants of obesity in children yet,” says Dr Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health science at Bristol University and advisor to the government’s obesity strategy. “It’s far too early to start discounting things as important as physical activity. Those who are saying it has no impact are neglecting a huge amount of the literature. I am suspicious of anyone who polarises obesity as one thing over another when there is strong agreement that it has multiple causes.”

“Terry’s point is right,” says Paul Gately, “but it’s not right in the context of public health promotion. In people who have lost weight and kept weight off, physical activity is almost always involved. And those people who just do diet are more likely to fail, as are those who just do exercise. You need a combination of the two, because we’re talking about human beings, not machines. We know that dietary behaviour is quite a negative behaviour – we’re having to deny ourselves something. There aren’t any diets out there that people enjoy. But people do enjoy being physically active.”

“What we want to avoid is people thinking they can control their weight simply by dieting,” adds Jebb, who points out that this is the very scenario that encourages anorexia in teenage girls. “Just restricting your diet is not going to be the healthiest way to live.” Traditional dieting clubs like Weightwatchers and Slimming World promote exercise as a key part of a weight-loss strategy: scientific studies show that exercise is an important factor in maintaining weight loss and, Jebb adds, some studies suggest it can help in preventing weight gain.

But it is still much harder to exercise when you’re already overweight, and “high energy density” foods are quick to get us there – overeating by just 100 calories a day can lead to a weight increase of 10lb over a year. “Education must come first,” says Wilkin. “Eating habits have to change to a much lower calorie intake, much lower body weight, and we would be fitter as a result because we would be able to do more physical activity.” He would like to see higher levels of tax on calorie-dense food, similar to those levied on tobacco, which have proved effective in the campaign against smoking.

Does the coalition government – which will launch a White Paper on the subject this autumn – agree? Anne Milton, minister for public health, is not keen to commit to any particular strategy before its publication. “There’s not a magic bullet here,” she says. “Despite the best efforts of government actually the public’s health hasn’t improved hugely.Change4Life is doing a good job. But we think there’s still lots more we can do with it.”

Any drastic measures to curb the excesses of junk food marketing seem unlikely – both Milton and Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley stress the importance of working “with” industry – and much of her language is concerned with “individual choice”. When it comes to losing weight, it seems there’s only one real choice – stop eating so much food.

Running on empty: fat is a feminine issue

The good news The latest scientific findings from the US suggest that an intense workout in the gym is actually less effective than gentle exercise in terms of weight loss. Barry Braun, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts, says that the evidence emerging from his research team shows that moderate exercise such as “low-intensity ambulation” (ie walking) may help to burn calories “without triggering a caloric compensation effect” – ie without making you reach for a snack the moment you’re done. In one experiment, Braun showed that simply standing up instead of sitting used up hundreds more calories a day without increasing appetite hormones in your blood.

The bad news Perhaps offering one reason for a multi-billion-pound weight-loss industry aimed almost exclusively at women, research has confirmed that it is more difficult for women to shed the pounds than men, because women’s bodies are simply more efficient at storing fat. In one of Braun’s experiments, in which overweight men and women were monitored while walking on treadmills, the women’s blood levels of insulin decreased while appetite hormones increased; the men’s, meanwhile, displayed no such change. “Across the evidence base, it seems that it’s tougher for women to lose weight than men,” affirms Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health sciences at Bristol University.

Snack attack: how long it takes to burn off 10 favourite foods

One portion of Tesco lasagne (560 cal): 45 minutes of spinning

One slice of Domino’s pepperoni pizza (198 cal): 45 minutes of swimming

Morrisons’ chocolate-chip muffin (476 cal): 58 minutes of climbing

Packet of Walkers cheese and onion crisps (184 cal): 35 minutes of frisbee

Subway tuna wrap (310 cal): 1 hour and 10 minutes of body pump

Bacon sandwich on white bread (430 cal): 58 minutes of football

Coffee Republic ham and cheese toastie (436 cal): 1 hour and 30 minutes of netball

Granny Smith apple (62 cal): 15 minutes of weightlifting

M&S hot cross bun (159 cal): 20 minutes of skipping

Mars bar (280 cal): 50 minutes of aqua aerobics

Emma John is deputy editor of the Observer Magazine

24 Mar

Top 6 Healthy Fitness Foods

in Blog

Healthy eating and physical activity go hand in hand. Once your learn the basics, you’ll find that eating healthy and staying active isn’t hard at all. Here are the top 6 healthy fitness foods you’ll buy anywhere and easily:

1. Blueberries to reduce inflammation

Blueberries earned their ‘superfood‘ status a few years ago, thanks to their high level of free-radical-beating antioxidants, those magical molecules that can help prevent a host of maladies. Blueberries have more antioxidants than 40 other common fruits and vegetables tested. The antioxidant plant pigments that make blueberries blue guard against heart disease, cancer and age-related blindness and memory loss.

Berries are often lower in calories than other fruits, too. Like dried fruit, fresh fruit is also good to eat during and after exercise since it contains high GI carbohydrate-packed sugars, which provide energy to muscles in the quickest way possible. Frozen blueberries (often far cheaper than fresh in the supermarket) are brilliant when whizzed up into a post-exercise smoothie to replenish your muscles’ glycogen (energy) stores.

2. Tomato to reduce health risk

Whether you’re eating a cherry tomato bruschetta or a homemade marinara sauce, you’re doing your body a favor. It doesn’t matter if you call tomatoes a fruit or vegetable (although they’re definitely fruit). At least 1 of the 3,000 species of this superfood should find its way into your diet.

Tomatoes are a delicious and versatile superfood loaded with antioxidants (called Lycopene) and numerous vitamins.. Lycopene has been making headlines for a few years now as a powerful nutrient to help prevent prostate cancer in men. Tomatoes may also help with a weight-loss program: the fruit has been linked with natural weight loss hormones in the body such as leptin, a type of protein which helps to regulate metabolic rate and appetite.

3. Broccoli to diet healthier

Some people love broccoli and some people hate it, but there’s no denying that broccoli is a nutritional wonder. Broccoli along with kale, spinach and green cabbage are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you’ll find in the supermarket. They are also a great source of fibre, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.

Furthermore, a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories. When it comes to bone-building calcium, plant based foods such as broccoli and kale offer a healthy dose and can be a good alternative to dairy products. Low calcium levels make you more vulnerable to stress fractures, particularly if you do endurance sports, so make sure you get enough calcium in your diet – 700mg (average) for adults a day.

4. Banana to be energetic :

Bananas are the perfect fitness food: compact, unfussy, soft to chew, and packed with nutrients. Each banana, on average, contains 30 g of carbohydrates, making it an effective source of energy for athletes. Bananas are a rich source of vitamin C. One banana contains about 15 percent of the vitamin C you need per day. Vitamin C is essential for strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments, and keeping your immune system strong under the stress of exercise. Vitamin C also helps speed and promote the repair of wounds and soft tissue damage incurred by activities like rigorous exercise.

Eating bananas is one of easiest ways to provides athletes with the nutrients they need for working out. Bananas are fairly cheap, readily available throughout the year and mix easily into protein shakes. They also work well as a simple addition to any kind of breakfast. Eating a banana within two hours before exercise can help sustain energy levels throughout a long workout and help reduce recovery periods after a workout.

5. Salmon to build muscle

According to a research published on the European Journal of Nutrition, those that consumed fish oil showed improved muscle development: their bodies used twice the amount of amino acids to build new protein tissues, especially skeletal muscles. Salmon owns the most oil among fishes and everyone can find it easily in every markets.

If you can’t or don’t eat seafood, look for an algae-based source of omega-3s. It is also packed with vitamins A, B and D as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus and selenium. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids helps your brain work better and improve your memory. Studies have shown that they can also help in preventing type 2 diabetes.

6. Dark chocolate to curb exercise-induced stress

Numerous studies support the myriad benefits of dark chocolate and new research published in the European Journal of Nutrition adds exercise protection to the list. In the study, healthy men were asked to eat 3.5 ounces of 70% dark chocolate two hours before a two-and-a-half-hour bout of cycling. Compared to a control group, the chocolate eaters experienced higher blood antioxidant levels and reduced markers of exercise-induced cell stress.

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier. So enjoy a few individually wrapped squares of dark chocolate daily, melt and drizzle it over fresh fruit, or mix it into oatmeal, smoothies, or parfaits.

Foods that make you physically stronger

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