A Strong Diet: Food That Pumps You Up

Man Lifting Weights

In the wake of America’s growing waistline, fitness trends have spread like wildfire throughout the nation. While more people are hitting the gym and attending their local Zumba class, it’s just as important to pump up your diet as it is to pump up your gym time. Learning about what foods keep you lean and strong is imperative as more processed foods flood mainstream marketplaces.

Bulking up

When you’re ready to bulk up, foods high in protein are your friend.  There are complete and incomplete proteins in the food we eat. Animal products are high in complete proteins.  Lean beef, chicken, egg whites, low-fat cheese, and skim milk are all categorized as complete proteins in that they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build muscle mass. Because proteins we ingest are not stored, and amino acids are recycled, even proteins that are not complete-like those consumed from plant based foods- can contribute significant amounts of protein to your diet.

How much do you need?

Proteins should be consumed in grams per day depending on your weight. For example, if you weigh 135 pounds, you should be eating about 50 grams as a non-athlete, but as an athlete, your requirements could increase to as much as 105 grams (most Americans already eat this amount of protein and may not need to bump their intake up). Competitive weight lifters need to be mindful of not only their protein intake, but also their carbohydrate and calorie intake.

Role of carbohydrates

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates can be your friend when you’re looking to be beach body ready. Carbs are essentially sugars that give you the energy to start and finish your workouts. The complex carbohydrates in oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta release their energy more slowly. This provides your body with a constant source of energy to pull those final shoulder presses from. Stay away from simple carbs that are commonly found in candy, soda pop, pre-sweetened cereals, and some high sugar energy bars. If you think about foods your dentist would like you to skip, you can more easily identify foods higher in these simple carbs. Getting enough of the complex carbs in your daily diet spares protein to work to assist in building and repairing your muscle!

Breakfast

Taking time to eat breakfast in the morning will help to kick-start your metabolism. Making an omelet with leafy greens or vegetables, and adding a small bowl of oatmeal is perfect for regulating your sugar levels. Even adding a glass of reduced/low fat milk or cottage cheese with fruit is a much better option than a trip to Starbucks. You’re preparing your body to face the day ahead of you and starting your digestion early in the day. This will help you transition from larger meals at the end of the day to a larger breakfast, followed by a smaller lunch and humble dinner.

Staying hydrated

As you move through your daily grind and workout, don’t just grab a Gatorade or so-called power drink! Stick with water, and stay hydrated all day long. Properly hydrated muscles will recover more quickly. The recommended daily intake for water is between 2.5 and 3 liters. If you’re not used to drinking water consistently throughout the day, start with breakfast and bump up your fluid intake. Have a glass of water along with your glass of orange juice. Bringing a travel cup to work or school is also helpful. When you drink water throughout the day, you help your digestive system process food more efficiently.

Gaining muscle mass doesn’t stop at the gym. Being disciplined and committed to the improvement of your overall health will only allow you to achieve your goal quicker.  A regimented weight training schedule and proper nutrition will help you feel and look better in no time!

This post was written for Chew on this blog by Dr. David Kulla. Dr. Kulla is a licensed New York Chiropractor and a nutritionist as well as owner of http://synergywellnessny.com in Manhattan.

Cheers to a Healthier BBQ Menu this July 4, 2013!

MP900384725It hasn’t seemed to be much of a summer yet in the Midwest.  We have had a lot of rain and not a lot of warm days, but the calendar says July 4th is around the corner.  For my family, it will mean back yard grilling and feeding a crowd.  Feeding a crowd on a holiday does not have to mean your health goals fall apart.  We are a pretty health conscious crowd, so here is what I am thinking as possible menu items for this week:

For an appetizer, try fat-free/low-fat easy bruschetta.  My husband just whipped this together last night as part of an easy Sunday night meal using some not too tasty dried out bakery bread.  He toasted thin slices of the dry bread, and then ladled his tomato mixture on top. He mixed diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, and balsamic vinegar  together (to taste, no oil included).  Topped with fresh basil and a pinch of fresh Parmesan cheese, it was wonderful and fat-free with no guilt issues returning for a third serving!

For the entrée, consider the following:

  • Jenni-O brand turkey brats-saves you at least 10 grams of fat and 100 calories over the standard counterpart. When we eat brats or serve brats to a crowd, we never eat the standard product and quite frankly, after soaking in beer and onions, one cannot tell the difference.
  • Fruit and/or vegetable and meat kebobs will save you calories by cutting down on the amount of meat consumed.  The quality of this meal will be improved by substituting the fruit and/or vegetables for the meat which adds healthy anti-oxidants from the fruits and vegetables while cutting down on saturated fat from meat.
  • Instead of standard burgers, consider grilling marinated boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  Pound the breasts to about a 1/4 inch thickness, marinade in your favorite mixtures, grill up and serve on whole wheat hamburger buns!

For side dishes, consider:

For dessert:

  • Strawberry shortcake served with angel food cake, fresh diced berries, and light cool whip or whipped cream
  • Or, just indulge in your favorite ice cream at this point since you ate so much healthy food the rest of the day.

For your beverages:

For the beverages, remember they can be loaded with calories from both sugar and alcohol.  Consider having your bar and cooler stocked with:

  • Diet tonic water and lemonade which will mix well with alcohol for a reduced calorie cocktail
  • Diet pop
  • Lower alcohol and calorie beer as well!

Happy 4th of July and enjoy the summer!