By Flex Staff
When it comes to the infinite number of foods that you can put in your body, there are good foods and there are bad foods. Clearly, you know to avoid the bad foods whenever possible, but when it comes to choosing the very best foods for your physique goals, that's an even harder decision. FLEX is here to make it easier for you to find the best of the best--we call them Power Foods.
WHEN: Any regular meal
WHY: The perfect protein, eggs are loaded with cholesterol, typically thought of as an evil food ingredient, but in reality, full of positive benefits, such as maintaining testosterone levels and the integrity of muscle cell membranes.
* In one study, subjects who ate three whole eggs per day while following a strength-training program produced twice the gains in muscle mass and strength than those who consumed just one egg or no eggs each day.
* In studies, 640 milligrams per day of additional cholesterol from eggs decreased the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol particles associated with atherosclerosis.
AMOUNTS: 3 extra-large eggs: 255 calories, 21 g protein, 1 g carbs, 18 g fat
2. ORGANIC BEEF
WHEN: Lunch or dinner
WHY: This meat is important due to its protein content, cholesterol and saturated fat, all of which maintain high testosterone levels.
* Organic beef has much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally raised cattle, because organically raised cattle are primarily grass fed as opposed to grain fed.
* CLA, a healthy fat, has been proven in numerous clinical trials to help shed bodyfat while helping to boost muscle mass and strength at the same time.
AMOUNTS: 8 oz of 90% lean ground organic beef: 392 calories, 48 g protein, 0 g carbs, 22 g fat
WHEN: Lunch or dinner
WHY: It's rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids).
* Subjects consuming higher levels of omega-3 fats reported greater muscle strength than those taking in lower levels of them, according to a study.
* Omega-3 fatty acids enhance insulin sensitivity, which boosts muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth) and increases glucose and amino acid uptake.
* Omega-3s are readily burned for fuel, sparing muscle glycogen to keep muscles bigger. Additionally, omega-3s have been found to blunt muscle and joint breakdown, as well as enhance their recovery.
* Omega-3s convert into beneficial prostaglandins, hormonelike substances that promote numerous processes in the body.
AMOUNTS: 8 oz of Atlantic salmon: 416 calories, 45 g protein, 0 g carbs, 24 g fat
WHEN: Between-meal snacks
WHY: Rich in omega-3s, it also has one of the highest contents of creatine--which can help boost muscle strength and growth--of any food source from the land or sea.
AMOUNTS: 3 oz of kippered herring: 185 calories, 21 g protein, 0 g carbs, 11 g fat (about 2 g of those are omega-3s)
5. WHEAT GERM
WHEN: 30 minutes before workouts and any time of day you want slow-digesting carbs (use it as breading on chicken or fish)
WHY: It is rich in zinc, iron, selenium, potassium and B vitamins, and high in protein with a good amount of branched-chain amino acids, arginine and glutamine.
* It's high in fiber, making it a great source of slow-digesting carbohydrates.
* It's great before workouts because it provides a good source of octacosanol, an alcohol that can increase muscle strength and endurance, as well as enhance reaction time in athletes by increasing the efficiency of the central nervous system.
AMOUNTS: 1/2 cup of wheat germ: 207 calories, 13 g protein, 30 g carbs (almost 8 g of those come from fiber), 6 g fat
6. BROWN RICE
WHEN: Lunch or dinner
WHY: Brown rice is a whole grain that provides fiber to help slow down digestion and keep insulin levels steady, supplying you with energy to last throughout the day.
* It's high in gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is an amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in the body and which boosts growth hormone levels by up to 400%.
* You can prepare brown rice in a way that will boost GABA levels: soak it in hot water for two hours before cooking to induce slight germination or use a Zojirushi Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer (zojirushi.com), which has a special setting that gives brown rice a two-hour hot bath before cooking.
AMOUNTS: 1 cup of cooked brown rice: 218 calories, 5 g protein, 46 g carbs, 2 g fat
WHEN: Immediately after workouts
WHY: Although we typically suggest that you eat fruit as a preworkout carb, since most fruits are slow digesting, watermelon is one of the few fruits that are fast digesting. That means it spikes insulin levels, making it a good postworkout carb.
* The red flesh and especially the white rind of watermelon are high in the amino acid citrulline, which is readily converted to arginine inside the body and boosts arginine inside the body and boosts arginine levels even better than taking arginine itself.
* Higher levels of arginine lead to higher nitric oxide levels and higher GH levels after training, both of which are critical for enhancing muscle strength and growth. Boosting NO levels after workouts means there's more blood flow to the muscles, which will enhance recovery and aid muscle growth.
AMOUNTS: Two wedges of watermelon: 172 calories, about 4 g protein, 44 g carbs, 1 g fat, approximately 3 g citrulline
WHEN: As a side salad with lunch and dinner
WHY: Spinach not only promotes health through its rich supply of antioxidants, but it has ingredients that increase muscle strength and size.
* It's a great source of glutamine, the amino acid that is highly important for muscle growth, immune function and gastrointestinal health, as well as for boosting GH levels and even metabolic rate.
* In addition to glutamine, spinach provides octacosanol (see wheat germ) and beta-ecdysterone, a phytochemical that stimulates protein synthesis.
AMOUNTS: 10 oz raw spinach: 65 calories, 8 g protein, 10 g carbs (6 g of those being fiber), 1 g fat
9. EZEKIEL 4:9 BREAD
WHEN: Any time of day when you would eat slow-digesting carbs
WHY: Made from organic sprouted whole grains such as wheat, millet, spelt and barley, and from legumes such as lentils and soybeans, this bread is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the amino acids your body needs for muscle growth.
* These whole grains and legumes also digest slowly, promoting superior fat burning throughout the day and more energy during exercise.
AMOUNTS: Two slices of Ezekiel 4:9 bread: 160 calories, 8 g protein, 30 g carbs (with 6 g of fiber), 1 g fat
WHEN: As a side with any meal
WHY: Broccoli contains a phytochemical that gets converted to another naturally occurring chemical called diindolylmethane, which reduces the strength of estrogens by converting them to weaker varieties in the liver.
* This helps to diminish estrogenic effects (fat gain and water retention) and strengthens testosterone's anabolic effects (muscle strength and growth).
* It also contains the antioxidant sulforaphane--a compound that forms from the inactive compound glucoraphanin when you chew it. Sulforaphane works in synergy with DIM to provide antiinflammatory properties, which enhance joint and muscle recovery, as well as fight cancer.
AMOUNTS: 1 cup of chopped broccoli: 31 calories, 3 g protein, 6 g carbs, 0 g fat