When creating your workout routine, there are some exercises you consider staples that you make a priority to include whether you’re trying to add size or get ripped. Think squats for legs or barbell curls for biceps.
Your nutrition program should be similar. Implementing different foods every day to make sure you hit your macros is great, but there are some tried and true choices that you should make sure you eat on a regular basis. Here are three choices each of protein, carbs, and fats that will always be dependable if they’re on your menu.
Chicken Breast - How many coolers have you seen in gyms or at fitness events with this in a container? Probably a lot and there’s good reason. Chicken is inexpensive, easy to cook, and is a very reliable source of protein that you can eat any time of the day.
I’m sure that many of us have eaten so much of it that we cluck in our sleep, but with very little fat and no carbs, it makes for great fuel for muscle recovery after a hard workout. There is a debate among experts whether you should or shouldn’t eat chicken with condiments or sauces. As long as you’re moderate using whatever you choose to eat, you will be ok. If making it taste better will help you eat it regularly, then go for it.
Salmon - Although many different types of fish can be considered great protein sources like tilapia, tuna, and cod, salmon rises above the rest. Not only is it rich in protein, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, B6, D, and E. Like chicken, it’s not very expensive to buy and takes a short amount of time to fix.
In recent years, there have been debates about whether you should get wild salmon or farm raised due to what farm raised salmon may be fed or the conditions they are kept in. That choice is up to you, but make sure you keep a good supply of whatever you pick. If you opt for farm raised salmon, ask the seller about how the fish were raised before buying them so you’re better informed about what you’re putting in your body.
Eggs - Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that eggs are another great source of protein just like the chickens that lay them. The whites, or clear liquid in the egg before it’s cooked, make up about two-thirds of the egg’s weight and are all protein which is why many athletes eat them by themselves. Some people opt for egg white supplementation, but food is always the better choice.
You should consider eating more of the yolks, however. Although they have a bad reputation for cholesterol, they also contain protein, fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, and essential fatty acids. The yellows by themselves actually could be considered a great fat source also. The most popular ways to eat eggs are scrambled or as an omelet.
Oats - Oats are a great and inexpensive source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and contain more dietary fiber than any other grain out there. They also contain important minerals like phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Oatmeal is quick to prepare and can be eaten anytime of the day, but oats are obviously most popular for breakfast. Make sure you get steel cut (aka Irish) oats because they are the least processed. Quick cooking oats are suitable as well because they are simply rolled into thinner flakes, but not processed like instant. Instant oatmeal has been processed and contains more salt and sugar so you should avoid it.
Sweet Potatoes - Unlike regular potatoes which are a starch and a high glycemic source of carbs, sweet potatoes are a slow digesting carbohydrate source. Like regular potatoes, they can be fixed in a variety of ways which means you will be more likely to enjoy them and not get bored with the same food. You can grill, roast, bake, and steam them. They're rich in Vitamins B6, C, and D as well as the minerals iron and magnesium. Furthermore, since it’s a slow digesting carb, the natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream which will result in your energy levels lasting longer and leaving you less likely to “crash.”
Broccoli - Of course any vegetable is great, but broccoli is one of the best when looking for a green to add to a meal. First and foremost, broccoli is very low in calories so you won’t have to worry about excess calories being converted to fat. Second, the mini trees are a very prominent source of Vitamins A, C, and K as well as folate. Like oats, broccoli is also a good source of fiber which can benefit digestion and prevent constipation. You can eat it raw or cooked to help prevent broccoli from becoming boring.
Foods With Good Fat
Nuts - Convenience makes this food awesome. Nuts are a great snack you can have anytime and they're a healthier option than chips or candy. You can have several different types and not go wrong.
Almonds are rich in fiber and Vitamin E. Walnuts are a very potent source of antioxidants, as are peanuts. Cashews are a top source for iron and zinc. Brazil nuts contain selenium which can help prevent some forms of cancer. Macadamia nuts have the most monounsaturated fats. Pistachios are the lowest in calories. If you can find variety packs of nuts, then you're getting a good mix of nutrients. Nuts are not only a great source of unsaturated fats, but they also pack protein as an added bonus.
Dark Chocolate - Some of you are probably thinking it’s crazy that chocolate is a part of the greatest bodybuilding foods list, but once you know all the benefits, you’ll understand completely. This is a food that should be consumed in moderation due to its sugar content, but as a food potent in fiber, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium, it had to be on here. It also contains caffeine which can provide an energy boost. There are also bio-active compounds which can benefit your skin. Finally, if you’re craving something sweet and your willpower is about to break, then this is a great option that will actually help instead of hurt your nutrition efforts.
Avocados - Most fruits are considered great sources of simple carbs, but this one is a great fat source as well. The most popular type of avocado is the Hass avocado, but any version of the super fruit will help you. As with several other foods on this list, it’s a quality source of fiber. The list of vitamins you can get from eating avocado includes B5, B6, C, K, E, Folate, and potassium. It also contains lutein which is beneficial for eye health. It’s also a versatile food that can be eaten on its own or added to salads or most notably, guacamole.
Have any questions about the foods you're eating to buid muscle? Post them up in the comments below.