Physique-Builders: Pasta's lowbrow image has many trainees forgoing it in favor of chicken. Too bad, since pasta's complex carbs are a great fuel source that frees up amino acids (from the aforementioned bird) to be used for muscle growth. "The plentiful B vitamins in pasta help create energy from food," Gidus says.
Physique-Killers: Food manufacturers have beat up this Italian classic by milling and refining it, turning it into a fiberless, calorically dense product with a much higher glycemic index than it needs. The upshot: It's more likely to pad your abs than your muscles. What's more, eating more quick-digesting carbs can lead to fatty liver disease, which can result in liver failure, reports a study in Obesity.
Smart Play: Choose pasta made from a whole grain such as whole wheat, brown rice or spelt that's listed as the first ingredient. This ensures your bowl contains more fiber and bodybuilding-friendly nutrients such as mag-nesium, vitamin E and selenium. Gidus explains: "Eating pasta with a source of pro-tein like meat sauce slows carbo-hydrate digestion for more sustained energy." Postworkout is a good time to take advantage of regular pasta's ability to boost insulin levels and drive aminos into muscle cells. However, at other meals, choose whole-grain varieties.
May We Suggest: Healthy Harvest Omega-3 Whole Wheat Rotini (healthyharvestpasta.com), 2 oz.: 180 calories, 7 g protein, 41 g carbs, 2 g fat (0 g saturated)
8) Salad Dressing
Physique-Builders: Dressings made with vegetable oils like olive oil are chock full of unsaturated fats that can promote fat-burning and healthy cholesterol levels. These same fats improve the absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants found in vegetables, such as beta-carotene. Olive oil goes one step further, dishing out the natural anti-inflammatory oleocanthal.
Physique-Killers: In similar fashion to peanut butter, many low-fat and fat-free dressings are simply pumped with more sugar (like corn syrup) than their fattier brethren. Not a good exchange for your six-pack. That said, creamy dressings can add unwanted
calories and fat to your green giants.
Smart Play: Forgo the creamy and wimpy slimmed-down versions and select healthier oil-and-vinegar mixtures. Better yet, make your own: Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and hot Dijon mustard for a well-dressed salad.
May We Suggest: Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (newmansown.com), 2 Tbsp.: 90 calories, 0 g protein, 3 g carbs, 9 g fat (1 g saturated)