So, this is my take on nutrition: it matters! It matters even more when you add the hard physical demands of a weight training program. Factors which can be improved by better food choices (to name just a few) are: reduced inflammation; decreased conversion of testosterone (T) to estrogen via the aromatase enzyme, improved insulin sensitivity, accelerated fat loss and recovery time, better brain function, improved blood lipid profile and decreased Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and better nitric oxide (NO) production. So, here are 30 of my top food and drinks which I would recommend to all male bodybuilders and athletes. The idea is not to go overboard with a particular food, but to try and add a varied choice of them into your diet. For example: Broccoli, spinach and brussel sprouts are great, but I wouldn’t suggest kilos of the stuff every day!
Rich in Indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C; a component of cruciferous vegetables) , broccoli may help to reduce estrogen levels and rid you of girlie hormones. By reducing your estrogen levels your T becomes more ‘effective’. Also, reduced estrogen levels in your blood signals your hypothalamic pituitary testes axis (HPTA) to actually increase T levels. Broccoli is also full of fibre and antioxidants to improve gastrointestinal health and protect against many diseases, like colon cancer.
2) Yams or sweet potatoes
For me yams are great, they contain slow release carbohydrates and taste great! They can be cooked in various ways and help maintain stable blood sugar levels, avoiding the blood sugar roller coaster. Mash them, put them in casseroles or oven bake and add to your favourite veggies.
3) Brown rice
Legendary stuff. Apart from being another great slower release carbohydrate, brown rice can increase NO production and the oil in brown rice can help lower LDL cholesterol. Couple the positive properties of NO with artery friendly LDL and here is a food which can help reduce strokes and heart attacks. Note: Rice is a common source of food allergy.
Another great source of I-3-C, Cauliflower is also fantastic for your digestive tract. This can reduce you risk of colon cancer, as anything that is good for your digestive tract generally does, as well as giving better nutrient uptake! A neat trick is to make low calorie, tasty ‘’cauliflower rice’’ instead of traditional higher calorie options when trying to lose body fat.
If your not to keen on cauliflower, or any of the other cruciferous veggies, then why not substitute them with this. Cabbage has more vitamin C than oranges and will help mop up free radicals, as well as helping the process of repairing after a workout. Cabbage is great at removing uric acid in the body and is full of sulphur which helps fight infections in ulcers and open wounds. Note: Raw cruciferous veggies contain goitrogenic compounds. These can slow down thyroid function if consumed raw and in large quantities. If you are concerned about slowing down thyroid function, already have slow thyroid function, then simply cook the vegetables for longer to remove more of the goitrogenic compounds.
This is the king of providing your body with antioxidants. Not only that they also taste fantastic blended in with your protein shakes, or in oatmeal. They’re rich in immune system building compounds like vitamin B, C, E plus copper and anthocyanins, which aid in reducing inflammation and helping with age related motor and memory function. Also the compounds present might help with skin conditions and damaged circulatory system by reducing injury to blood vessels.
Great for your prostate and erectile dysfunction (ED), plus it improves blood pressure (BP) due to the phyto nutrient citrulline.
If you could choose just one starchy carb source, I would have to recommend oatmeal! They contain beta glucan which may prevent your stomach and intestine from absorbing high levels of cholesterol. They also have a great mixture of carbs (77%), proteins (14%) and fats (9%). Try adding hemp seeds, egg whites, seeds, cinnamon, your favorite protein powder or honey for a tastier whole meal.
9) Orange juice
I love it just for the taste but orange juice also contains a flavonoid called hesperidin which, in a placebo and non-placebo test, was shown to aid in the endothelial repair process and also lower BP. Apart from being able to repair damaged endothelium, due to it’s ability to lower BP and improve damaged endothelium, it can also improve the quality of your hard erections too! It also contains high levels of vitamin C and decreases LDL levels.
10) Pomegranate juice
Where to start? It: reduces prostate cancer risk; decreases the destruction of NO from oxidative destruction; improves blood flow and decreases BP; it boosts your sperm quality and motility whilst improving erectile dysfunction; Oh, and pomegranate juice also decreased arterial plaque thickness over a multiyear period! Grab yourself a glass right away!
I love the bitter taste of high cocoa chocolate drink and chocolate, but I also found out that it’s an erection super food because of it’s ability to lower BP, which of course means dilated arteries equalling better erections. It may also help heal damaged endothelium because of its high content of Circulating Angiogenic cells (CAC’s), so cocoa may not just reduce the decline as you age but decrease some of the damage from the past!
12) Red Grapes
Contain a lot of resveratrol which has many benefits from helping to fight cancer and improve live span, to increasing testosterone.
is an activator of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and the more NO you have the healthier your circulatory system is going to be; that goes from your heart and your family jewels. Garlic reduces cholesterol, helps reduce the risk of , decreases blood clots and prevents the oxidation of bad cholesterol that cause arteriosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries leading to increased risk of heart attack).
Protect against saturated fats and high BP. They’re also full of anti-oxidants (including vit E), when compared to other nuts, which helps repair the free radical damage after a workout providing improved recovery. A lower risk of Alzheimer’s, due to the natural vitamin E source, is another health benefit.
Another high nitrite food that aids in NO development. You don’t need to eat masses of it though as western men already have plenty of iron and copper accumulating in our bodies. As I said at the start, balance is key!
Has many great properties: it’s anti-bacterial; anti fungal and can help fight things like sinusitis; it’s been shown to increase NO metabolites in animals; improves sleep and is fantastic at maintaining glycogen levels; and it improves recovery time in athletes.
17) Beetroot juice
Can increase endurance in athletes and boost NO production and lower BP.
18) Cranberry Juice
Is great at increasing HDL and NO amounts, it attacks urinary tract infections (UTIs) and decreases TNF-alpha (an inflammatory cytokine) which can cause inflammation and endothelial damage. As a bodybuilder it is essential to get inflammation under control; stressing your body with weights will cause a lot of inflammation and long term chronic inflammation is NOT healthy, in fact it may be a better sign of bad health than being overweight.
Black tea is a remarkable stimulator of blood flow and NO production, while green tea can help combat c reactive protein (CRP) in smokers. CRP is a master of inflammation and endothelial damage. New evidence suggests that green tea may help increase HDL and decrease LDL too! In a Japanese study of over 40,000 people it was shown that drinking 5 plus cups a day lead to a reduction of cardiovascular disease related deaths by 26% and an overall reduction in all mortality rates by 16%. Although green tea may increase SHBG levels; I wouldn’t trade it for the other health benefits.
These can protect against undesirable blood platelet coagulation occurring and, are therefore great for your circulatory system and cardiovascular health. Onions can reduce the oxidization of fatty acids in the body which in turn leads to pro inflammatory messengers. The flavonoid quercetin in onions is also anti bacterial. Even small amounts of onions consumed daily have been shown to reduce colorectal cancer risk, oral, laryngeal and oesophageal cancer risk.
21) Lean Turkey
It’s a great source of tasty lean protein which will aid in fulfilling your protein needs without excess calories. Obviously your turkey should be cooked in a healthy way (not fried). Avoid the processed, pre packed rubbish that is full of binders, excess preservatives and water!
Can increase arterial dilation, increase NO, may help control cholesterol and fight arthritis due to its high levels of vitamin C. In a Japanese study (on 35,000 women) it was shown that increased pepper consumption reduced stroke risks and cardiovascular disease associated deaths, likely due to the folate and B6 in them.
23) White button mushrooms
These fungi have been shown to suppress aromatase activity (species agaricus bisphorus). Less aromatase can mean more testosterone or more ‘effective’ testosterone. For bodybuilders, controlling estrogen and testosterone is pretty important!
Pretty much the most bio-available form of complete protein available. Whole eggs taste great and provide the body with vitamins including K, E and A plus: Zinc, calcium, iron, riboflavin and vitamin B12, which are all essential in building muscle. Egg whites are zero fat and are the leanest protein you can get if you want to strip fat and gain muscle at the same time. That being said Egg yolks aren’t bad! In fact you can consume up to 3 a day with no ill effect and you DO need a certain amount of cholesterol to convert into testosterone and B12 for muscle contraction. If you’re consuming a lot of eggs I’d recommend 1 egg yolk for every 6-8 egg whites. I also love eggs because of their ability to combine with nearly every food imaginable! I typically consume around 2 egg yolks a day. Calorie for calorie you need a lot less from egg whites to get your all-important protein than from other sources like steak.
25) Fattier fish (e.g. salmon and mackerel)
These fishy friends can reduce cancer risk and provide minerals like Zinc and vitamin E for healthy sperm. Fatty fish help: manage diabetes, improve eye health, reduce cardiovascular risk and dementia risk, improve brain health and importantly REDUCE INFLAMMATION. I wouldn’t suggest eating masses of fish as there’s quite a lot of mercury floating about in today’s oceans. I’d suggest eating fatty fish a few times a week -you don’t want mercury building up in your brain!
26) Red meats
Bodybuilders love their red meat, maybe a bit too much! It’s high in creatine, B12 and iron which are great for muscle building but not all cuts are the same so go for the lower fat cuts or lean red meats like venison. Also try to go organic with most of the meat you buy. A vast proportion of non-organic animals are fed soy bean and soy, this results in animal meat full of estrogen, pesticides and other nasty chemicals!
Its low calorie and high in fibre; great for fat loss! It contains lutein and zeaxanthin which help keep your eyes in good shape. Celery also contains phthalides which have been shown in studies to reduce BP in hypertensive individuals.
28) Brussel sprouts
Full of the anti-estrogenic indole-3-carbinol, vitamin A, C, folate and beta carotene. Sprouts may also aid to reduce the DNA damage (that leads to cancer) and decrease the rates of heart disease and stroke via anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Remember, there’s no need to eat kilos of sprouts if you think you have too much estrogen.I-3-C may actually have some agonistic effects on the estrogen receptors if too much cruciferous veg is consumed! Balance is key.
This anti-oxidant fruit can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. They contain lycopene, which can reduce your risk of a heart attack by as much as 48%, and they’re packed full of natural anti-inflammatory agents plus vitamins including A,C and E. If you want to repair after a workout you need your vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidant compounds! Low in calories and great tasting it should be easy to add tomatoes to your diet.
30) Potatoes (Red and white)
Potatoes have a bad reputation-every time I speak about potatoes I hear the words ‘’high GI’’ or ‘’insulin spike’’. It’s silly really as I don’t know many people who eat ONLY a potato without adding tuna, chilli or cheese which slows down the insulin release. They’re a great carbohydrate and when you eat them as a part of a meal it LOWERS the GI of the whole meal. They’re relatively low calorie, nutrient dense and very satisfying. Add a lean meat or low fat cottage cheese and you can’t go wrong. Apart from vitamin A, a white potato has pretty much every nutrient you need. Eating potatoes never stopped me from getting ripped!
Andy Peters. Optimum Gains.