Over the years, food manufacturers have done a wonderful job at nutritionally degrading many go-to bodybuilding staples all in the name of profit and satisfying our need for all things salty, sweet and satisfying. So that you stay ahead of the game and don’t fall prey to those sneaky, unscrupulous food demons, we’ve assembled 10 beloved power foods and shown you how to take them from physique killers to physique builders.
Physique Builders: Deck out a sandwich with the right lean deli meat and you’ll help your body stockpile heaps of protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. “Iron is needed for the synthesis of muscle protein whereas zinc helps regenerate their cells,” Gidus points out.
Physique Killers: Many packaged cured meats contain nitrite preservatives. Nitrites cause oxidative stress in the body, which is why processed meats have been linked to prostate cancer. Add on top of that too much saturated fat and more sodium than the Dead Sea, and all of a sudden your sandwich isn’t so body affable.
Smart Play: Concentrate on meat slices with a high protein-to-fat ratio such as sliced chicken breast, turkey breast and roast beef. (Noticed we left out bologna.) Gidus recommends scanning the nutrition label for natural brands that do away with nitrites and a good chunk of the salt lick.
May we suggest: Applegate Farms Herb Turkey (www.applegatefarms.com); 4 ounces: 100 calories, 22g protein, 0g carbohydrate, 1g fat (0g saturated)
Fast Food Salads
Physique Builders: The best ones are adorned with protein-dense grilled chicken, salmon, beans and hard-boiled eggs. The veggies harbor antioxidants and plenty of fiber, which tempers blood sugar fluctuations.
Physique Killers: Bread that chicken and fry it, and then pile on croutons, cheese, bacon and creamy dressings (like many restaurants routinely do) and the calories and fat can add up faster than snowflakes during a blizzard.
Wise Play: Before you hit the drive-thru, check the nutrition information on the establishment’s website for the salads that have the best protein-to-fat ratio. Opt for lower fat dressing and gravitate towards healthier toppings such as fruit and nuts. Remember: Tomatoes fight disease. Croutons? Not so much.
May we suggest: McDonalds Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken w/ Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette (www.mcdonalds.com); salad: 300 calories, 32 g protein, 23g carbohydrate, 10g fat (1g saturated); dressing: 40 calories, 0g protein, 4g carbohydrate, 3g fat (0g saturated)
Physique Builders: Dressing’s 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 like 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 sugars (such as corn syrup) than their fattier brethren. Not a good exchange for your six-pack. That said, creamy dressings can add an unwanted calorie and fat wallop 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 (www.newmansown.com); 2 Tbsp: 90 calories, 0g protein, 3g carbohydrate, 9g fat (1g fat)