Muscle Chow

If this does not convince you that eating real food works, I don’t know what will!!!  Check out Men’s Health’s most photographed cover guy and see how he uses food as his ultimate tool for building a rock-hard body….

Muscle Chow

When it comes to making muscle, there’s no better place to start than in the kitchen. This is the most important advice I can impart from a career that has included preparing for and shooting nearly 20 Men’s Health covers. By giving your muscles the right foods at the right times, you’ll speed their growth without covering them with a layer of flab.

You might think this means a diet of egg whites and alfalfa sprouts, but I’ve found that the real key to success is hearty, flavor-packed fare that will complement your workouts and satisfy your tastebuds. And to show you how easy it is to prepare this kind of food, I’ve provided a description of my perfect day of eating. It includes a variety of delicious, protein-based meals and snacks spread evenly throughout the day — the perfect formula for building the body you want. Try it yourself and you’ll quickly discover that a few minutes invested at the stove are as important as the hours you spend in the gym.

7:30 a.m.

Avocado Toast

A trio of healthy-fat sources (avocado, olive oil, and flax) make for a satisfying start to your day and will help keep your midmorning cravings in check. 

2  tsp honey mustard

2  slices whole-grain bread, toasted

1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced

1/2  tomato, thinly sliced

1  tsp extra-virgin olive oil

4  fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 Tbsp ground flaxseed

Salt and black pepper to taste

How to Make It

Spread the honey mustard on the toast slices. Lay on the avocado and tomato. Drizzle with the oil. Top with the basil, flaxseed, and seasonings. I cut each piece into quarters to make it easier to eat. Makes 1 serving

Per serving: 394 calories, 11 grams (g) protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 21 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 14 g fiber, 112 milligrams (mg) sodium

Variations

Add a few thin slices of cucumber or a pinch of Parmesan cheese. If I have fresh baby spinach handy, I might add a few leaves between the avocado and the tomato.

10:30 a.m.

Tuna Salad on Celery Sticks

Protein helps keep your metabolism burning hot throughout the day, which makes these crunchy tuna boats the perfect bridge between breakfast and lunch.

1  can (6 oz) low-sodium chunk white tuna (packed in water), rinsed and drained

1  Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4  cup finely chopped onion

1/4  cup finely chopped apple

2  Tbsp plain yogurt

Ground black pepper to taste

14  ribs celery, rinsed and ends trimmed

How to Make It

1. Put the tuna in a small bowl and break it apart with a fork. Add the vinegar, onion, apple, yogurt, and pepper. Mix well.

2. Spoon an equal amount of tuna salad into the gutter of each celery rib. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. Makes 7 servings

Per serving: 50 calories, 7 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 80 mg sodium

12:30 p.m.

Stuffed Peppers

Tired of turkey? These meaty pepper pockets provide a huge dose of protein for a midday energy boost. Make up a batch for dinner on Sunday and you’ll have three quick lunches ready to go for the rest of the week.

4  bell peppers (green, yellow, or red)

1/4  tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1  pound extra-lean ground beef

1  egg white

1/2  cup finely chopped yellow onion

2  Tbsp canned corn

1  Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of ground black pepper

3/4  cup tomato or spaghetti sauce

1  tsp prepared horseradish

How to Make It

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and then carefully remove the seeds and white membranes and discard them. Lightly coat the outside of the peppers with the oil.

2. In a large bowl, combine the beef, egg white, onion, corn, parsley, black pepper, and 1/4 cup of the sauce. Stuff the mixture into the four peppers, dividing it evenly.

3. Pour 1/4 inch of water into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and add the peppers, cut side up. Bake for 40 minutes.

4. Remove the peppers. Combine the horseradish and the remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce and add a little of the mixture to the top of each pepper. Bake for another 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 217 calories, 27 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 4 g fiber, 96 mg sodium

3:30 p.m.

Spicy Roasted Nuts

This homemade nut mix provides the perfect combination of healthy fats, protein, and powerful antioxidants for a filling midafternoon pick-me-up.

2  cups unsalted almonds

2  cups unsalted pecan halves

1  cup unsalted walnut halves

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

2  tsp dried rosemary

2  tsp dried oregano

2  tsp paprika (smoked or regular)

2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2  tsp salt

2  Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

How to Make It

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add the oil a tablespoon at a time, tossing well after each addition. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

2. Set the mix aside to cool before storing in a plastic container or zip-top bag. Makes 20 servings

Per serving (1/4 cup): 240 calories, 6 g protein, 6 g carbohy-drates, 24 g fat (2 g saturated), 4 g fiber, 59 mg sodium

5:00 p.m.

5-minute Chicken Salad Sandwich

Downing some protein before workouts has been shown to boost muscle growth even more than having it after workouts.

My take: Why not do both?

1  rib celery, finely chopped

1  Tbsp finely chopped onion

1  Tbsp pine nuts

1  heaping tsp spicy brown mustard

1 heaping tsp fat-free sour cream

1  heaping tsp plain yogurt

Pinch of ground black pepper

2  cans (3 oz each) chunk chicken, rinsed and drained twice

4  slices whole-grain bread

2  leaves lettuce

How to Make It

1. In a large bowl, mix together the celery, onion, pine nuts, mustard, sour cream, yogurt, and pepper. Add the chicken and toss lightly so you don’t break it apart too much.

2. Divide the salad, spreading each half on a slice of bread.

Top each with a lettuce leaf and another bread slice. Makes

2 servings

Per serving: 267 calories, 28 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 5.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 11 g fiber, 410 mg sodium

6:30 p.m. (postworkout)

Chocolate Almond Recovery Shake

The carbs in this shake trigger a hormonal surge that drives nutrients into your muscle cells, speeding their growth. They also replenish energy stores, ensuring you’ll perform your best at your next workout.

1/2  cup milk

1  Tbsp instant coffee

10  unsalted almonds

1 Tbsp lecithin granules

2  packets (2 g) stevia or other sugar alternative

1  cup crushed ice or 6-8 ice cubes

2 level scoops chocolate whey protein powder

How to Make It

Put all of the ingredients except the ice and protein powder into a blender. Blend on high until fully mixed. With the blender on medium, add the ice and protein powder. Increase the speed to high and blend until smooth. Makes 1 serving

Per serving: 393 calories, 47 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 55 mg sodium

7:30 p.m.

Mahi Mahi Wraps

There’s no better way to cap your day than with a low-carb, high-protein fish burrito loaded with heart-healthy omega-3s.

4  mahi mahi fillets (6 oz each)

1  tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Lemon-pepper seasoning

1  cup plain yogurt

Juice of 2 limes

Ground black pepper

8  large leaves Boston lettuce

2  tomatoes, chopped

1  cucumber, seeded and grated

1  avocado, peeled and chopped

1 cup bean sprouts

1 cup shredded carrots

How to Make It

1. Heat a very clean, oiled grill or grill pan on medium. Brush the fish with the oil and sprinkle it with the lemon-pepper seasoning to taste. Grill the fish, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula and cook for another 5 minutes, until the fish flakes easily.

2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and lime juice and season to taste with pepper. Fill each lettuce leaf with about 2 Tbsp each of the tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, sprouts, and carrots. Top each with several chunks of mahi mahi. Drizzle each with an equal amount of the yogurt sauce. Fold each lettuce leaf into a wrap. Makes 4 servings

Per serving (2 wraps): 293 calories, 37 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 6 g fiber, 213 mg sodium

Article from Men’s Health

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