Clean and Lean
"What do I eat?" is probably the most common question personal trainer asked after, "Are we done yet?" With the maze of contradictory nutrition advice, which floods the airwaves, bookstores and Internet, confusion is understandable. In the interest of cutting to the chase when it comes to eating well, here is a guide in what to look for and what to avoid when you visit the grocery store. Vegetables and Fruits: Vitamin, antioxidant and fiber powerhouses
Choose: Go for the pretty colors when choosing fruits and vegetables. In other words, the deeper the color, the greater the concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Broccoli, kale, mustard greens, butternut squash and sweet potatoes are several excellent choices. For fruits, choose fresh or frozen, and focus on variety. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.
Avoid: Fruit juices can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per cup, so avoid them or dilute with water. Canned fruit often contains sugary syrup, and dried fruit, while an excellent source of fiber, can be high in calories. Avoid fried veggies or ones smothered in dressings or sauces. You may still get the vitamins, but you’ll be getting a lot of unhealthy fat and extra calories.
Whole Grains for long-lasting, healthy carbohydrate energy
The words multi-grain, 100% wheat, or bran, don’t necessarily mean that a product is whole grain. Look for the words 100% whole wheat, stone ground or unbleached whole wheat, and check the ingredients to make sure each grain listed is specified as whole grain.
Choose: Dark breads, whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, millet, toasted wheat cereals.
Avoid: Refined grains (the white stuff, which makes breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals) and “whole grain” breakfast cereals, which often contain a lot of sugar (example: whole grain Cookie Crisp cereal).
Health Fats and Oils to support brain and body functions
Choose: Vegetable oils (olive, canola, peanut), avocados, fatty fish (salmon), nuts, and seeds.
Avoid: Damaging good fats by exposing them to heat, light or air. For example, keep your bottles of canola or olive oil in the refrigerator. Avoid trans fats, hydrogenated oil and saturated fats.
Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Tofu: Healthy protein alternatives
These plant foods are excellent sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Choose: Good choices include black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans are satisfying and nutritious. Soy products like tofu are great for protein, but men may want to avoid soy products because some studies show an increase in estrogen levels with their consumption.
Avoid: Salted or sugary nuts and refried beans.
Meat, Fish, Poultry and Eggs: Animal protein
Eating omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish can reduce the risk of heart disease. Good choices also include chicken, turkey, and eggs. (Vegetarians and vegans can substitute vegetable protein for these sources, but may want to consider an omega-3 supplement.)
Choose: Lean, white meat; egg whites; fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, canned light tuna, catfish and wild salmon. If you eat red meat, buy the leanest cuts you can find.
Avoid: Fish that’s high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and albacore tuna.
Milk and other dairy products for calcium and vitamin D
Dairy products provide a rich source of calcium, necessary for bone health. Most are fortified with vitamin D, which helps the small intestine absorb calcium. Nutritionists recommend a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you are unable to get enough of these nutrients from your diet, or if you follow a vegan diet.
Choose: 1-2 servings per day of low-fat dairy products that do not contain rBST (bovine growth hormone). If you're lactose-intolerant, choose lactose-free and lower-lactose products, such as hard cheeses and yogurt.
Avoid: Full-fat dairy products.