Lean muscles are what give your body its shape.
So when somebody says, “I want to get in shape,” what they mean is “I want to build some lean muscle and lose the fat covering it.”
If you really want to get in shape, exercise is important, but nutrition is your key to unlocking an awesome body.
(For more benefits of lean muscle, check out this post: Get Some Firmness On Your Frame)
Since you have to focus on nutrition in order to lean out and shape up, I put together a list of 7 foods that should be in your food plan if you want a fit body as fast as possible…
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #1: Almonds
Almonds not only raise your metabolism, they are a great source of antioxidants as well.
See, almonds are a perfect source alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, the form that your body absorbs best.
When you exercise hard, you want the muscle-saving power of almonds to prevent free radical damage after your workouts.
The less damage you get from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover and be prepared for your next adventure at boot camp
As an added bonus, your body stores “bad stuff” in fat… things like pesticides, plastics, and food additives. When you lose fat, this bad stuff is released into your body. This is why it’s especially important to include antioxidant foods such as almonds in your fat loss food plan.
If that wasn’t enough, eating good natural sources of vitamin E (not just supplements), can lower your Alzheimer’s risk by up to 67%.
And don’t worry about the nuts making you fat – just keep it in moderation. A study from Toronto University found that adding an ounce of almonds a day (about 24 nuts) won’t lead to any weight gain.
I’m watching you though, no double handfuls of almonds mixed with chocolate chips and dried fruit
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #2: Salmon
Salmon is a great source of quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve written about the benefits of fish and fish oil for fat loss before:
- Fish Oil Reduces Body Fat
- Drop Triglycerides 93.5% in 21 Days!
- Fish Oil Is Awesomeness In Capsule Form
- Weight Loss University: Fish And Fat Loss
But the omega-3s and protein are essential for lean muscle as well. Protein, sure. But why do omega-3s help?
Omega-3s decrease muscle protein breakdown after your workouts, so you will recover faster. This means you will store muscle protein faster than you break it down.
When choosing salmon, always ALWAYS get wild, not farm raised. Farm raised fish is fed corn and other grains that change the fats and proteins in the meat so that you lose the benefits you were going for.
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #3: Water
All right, water isn’t really a food, but it’s essential for fat loss and lean muscle building.
80% of your muscle IS water. If your muscle cells are fully hydrated, they will make muscle proteins faster. The converse: If you’re dehydrated, you’ll build muscle more slowly.
Being dehydrated as little as 1% can negatively affect your exercise performance, so if you want to maximize the results you get from your gym time, make sure to drink plenty of water BEFORE your workout – not just during when you get thirsty.
If you’re not sure how much to drink, start with the old-school recommendation of 8 glasses of water a day.
For bonus points, aim for drinking your weight in pounds in ounces of water. Weigh 150 pounds? Drink 150 oz of water.
Besides helping you build muscle and lose fat, drinking water will also help lower your risk for a fatal heart attack – just five glasses of water a day will reduce your risk by 54% compared to drinking 2 or fewer.
So drink up!
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #4: Olive Oil
Yeah, my bodybuilding friends rub olive oil on their bods to show off their muscles, but that’s not why they’re lean and toned. For best results, eat the olive oil, don’t rub it on your skin
The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are “anti catabolic”, which means they help prevent muscle breakdown.
Plus, these fats also help prevent muscle weakness, so you’ll get more out of your workouts on low energy days.
Now, while all olive oil is high in monos, extra-virgin is your best bet. It has more of the antioxidant vitamin E than other varieties. But beware, not all brands labeled “extra virgin” really are. Out of the big chain stores here in Carson City, Costco’s Kirland Organic gets the best grades, according to a report from UC Davis. (You can see the whole report here: Olive Oil Standards)
Olive oil is best used as a dressing/topping over salads or meats, if you use it for cooking the heat of the skillet changes the structure of the oil and takes away almost all of your benefits.
If the muscle protecting benefits of olive oil aren’t enough to convince you, olive oil has been shown to lower risks of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #5: Coffee
Powering up your workouts with a jolt of caffeine can help you build more muscle and lose more fat.
A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who drank 2 1/2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9 percent longer than when they didn’t drink any. (It’s believed the caffeine in coffee directly stimulates your muscles)
Since sprinting and weight-lifting are the best muscle building, fat burning exercises, doing better means more muscle and less fat.
You should always choose organic coffee, and stay away from decaf (decaf coffee has been linked to higher cancer rates). As an added bonus, coffee drinkers have a 30% less risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease than non-coffee drinkers.
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #6: Eggs
The protein in eggs has an incredibly high biological value… which means you need less protein from eggs to build muscle than you would need from other sources.
And don’t be scared of the yolks! The yolk is a great source of vitamin B12 which you need for muscle contraction and fat breakdown.
Besides B12, yolks contain riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
When it comes to choosing eggs, terms like all-natural, cage-free, and free-range are basically meaningless, as there is no hard line defined by the government. Anyone can print these on their egg cartons.
Organic and omega-3-fortified eggs are a little better, but still not the best.
The front-runner for healthy eggs is local farm-raised from chickens allowed to run free and eat bugs and weeds and stuff.
Below is a picture of an organic egg in the same bowl as a pasture raised egg:
You can easily see that the pasture raised egg on the right has a much darker yolk. The color comes from all the nutrients that the chicken has eaten and then passed along to its egg. Always remember, you are what your food eats.
Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #7: Beef
I might be prejudiced about beef because I come from a cattle-raising family, but there really are tons of benefits from eating beef.
Yes, that delicious steak has tons of protein that will help you build muscle and lose fat, but it is also a great source of iron, zinc, and selenium – crucial muscle building nutrients.
(Selenium also helps protect the prostate. A study found that men with low levels of selenium are 5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer)
This might scare some people here, but it shouldn’t: beef is also a good source of creatine.
Don’t worry, every though creatine supplements are advertised in muscle magazines and most people think it is some sort of steroid, creatine is nothing more than a cellular energy source. In fact, it’s the main fuel your body uses for explosive exercises.
So if you want to really get some work done on your next trip to the gym, start fueling yourself with beef!
When it comes to purchasing beef, you want to go with grass-fed/grass-finished as much as possible. When the cows have lived on grass, their protein and fats are top-notch for your health.
If going with normal organic beef that has been fed grains, you want to get the leanest cuts possible (feeding cows grain changes the structure of their fats – not good for your body).
Ask your butcher or look for “rounds” and “loins”. These are the leanest cuts.
Or you can try the “flat iron” cut. It’s the second most tender cut of beef and very lean. Win-win for your taste buds and your bod.
There you have it! If you want to add some lean muscle to change the shape of your body and ramp up your metabolism, add these 7 foods to your Carson City Bootcamp eating plan!