The world of nutrition can be a bit of a minefield even at the best of the times!
Even to someone who spends each and every day discussing and coaching the subject finds it a little difficult to navigate from time to time!
Nutrition in recent years has been subject to dogma: ‘Don’t eat this it will do this…’, ‘Don’t eat that it will do this…’ Such dogma promotes confusion among an already confused British population often doing more harm than good when it comes to making the correct, basic dietary decisions which can have big impacts on people’s health.
Time and time again however the same foods crop up in the diets of those who have the bodies we admire: bodybuilders, figure competitors and elite athletes to name but a few.
As I am sure you will agree if these guys are looking the way they do eating basic, healthful foods in rotation, then there must be a pattern that unearths key lessons which can be learnt and applied to the lives of your everyday Joe.
With this in mind, today I thought I would compile and share my personal ‘Top 5 Super Foods’ that I stand by as the staple to any healthy diet regardless of your goal:
1. Organic Chicken Breast
In our current carb-filled UK diets, protein is more important to us than ever before, especially for people who exercise regularly. Not only is protein ‘thermogenic’ in nature I.e. it requires the use of the body’s heat and energy to digest it, it helps promote feelings of satiety and helps recovery. A diet high in chicken is a great start for any goal – Muscle gain, fat loss, or performance!
2. Macadamia Nuts
My personal favourite nut! The oil in macadamia nuts is more than 80% monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fat is the main fat featured in the Mediterranean diet. In virtually every study the Mediterranean diet has been associated with lower levels of heart disease and cancer as well as longer life spans.
On top of these great benefits, Macadamia nuts also contain good levels of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium along with a good dose of heart healthy potassium.
Combine Macadamia nuts with red meat as your first meal of the day for optimal leanness, energy and sustained mental focus. The meat allows for a slow and steady rise in blood sugar. The nuts provide a great source of healthy smart fats that allows the blood sugar to remain stable for an extended period of time
3. Sweet Potato
Besides making delicious ‘healthy chips’ sweet potatoes are high in fibre and act as a rich source of antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin A, potassium and a big dollop of calcium to boot.
Controlling carbohydrate intake is key in the battle of the bulge. Choosing the correct carbohydrates to consume at the correct times is essential when it comes to controlling the ‘fat storing hormone’ insulin. The impact of food on blood sugar should be a great concern to those trying to lose weight and even more so for diabetics and those suffering from other insulin related disease.
Sweet potatoes are often well digested, and like the name suggests are relatively sweet in flavour. This is normally my big ‘go to carbohydrate’ to bring into clients diets around times that they have trained.
That’s right Popeye really should have revaluated his nutritional choices.
Watercress shares cruciferous relations with other vegetable royalty such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and Swiss chard. This family of vegetables are known for their anticancer phytochemicals called ‘isothiocynates’.As well as anti-cancer properties, the wonder vegetable also contains another group of compounds with anti-cancer potential belonging to the sulforaphane family. Sulforaphanes have been proven to also lower Oestrogens levels in the body which is a common reason for fat storage on the legs, bum and chest for men and women in the UK.
5. Organic Grass Fed Butter
Long thought of as being a highly unhealthy, heart attack promoting food choice, butter is fighting back! Butter does contain saturated fat which has developed (wrongly or rightly) association with many different forms of disease from cholesterol to heart disease. The jury is still out on this one!
In my opinion the decision to remove healthy foods such as butter out of one’s diet simply because they contain saturated fat seems very unwise.
Butter is a rich source of vitamin A, E, K and D. The latter being a recent key area of focus by the world’s press with increasing incidents of rickets arising! Grass fed butter is rich in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) a particularly healthy fat that has demonstrated anti-cancer properties. Research has also shown that CLA consumption has a direct correlation with weight loss, especially around the abdomen!
What’s more butter added to vegetables actually helps you absorb more vitamins!
My advice for ingesting butter is to keep portions small, however for a delicious change add butter and a squeeze of lemon to your vegetables. Delicious!
Personal Trainer High Wycombe
Scott Marsh is the director of Xcelerate Fitness (www.xceleratefitness.co.uk), a results focussed personal training company based in Beaconsfield. For more information on transforming yourself in 2012 email email@example.com or call 07921 856308 for your FREE information pack.