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By Jake Bradshaw
Eating healthy is the most important thing we can do. The things we eat will always be evident in our overall mental health, body weight, and muscle mass. It’s not enough to rely solely on exercise, supplying your body with proper fuel is crucial in delivering the best results.
So what’s needed for muscle growth? The answer is protein! There are a lot of components in protein that our body cannot produce naturally, which is why we need to get them from our foods. If we deprive ourselves of these kinds of foods, we are limiting our body of it’s full potential.
Perhaps one of the most over-looked component in food is leucine. Without it, protein would not be able to do it’s job. Think of it as protein’s “spot” man. According to Nutrition Express’ Jeff Voleck Ph.D, leucine carries with it the ability to synthesize, creating more muscle mass. Some foods have more than others, but the ones that do can mean an entire belt size.
#1) Raw Almonds
Unlike other nuts, almonds contain high quantities of fiber, protein, vitamin E, vitamin B’s and yes, leucine. All of these nutrients combined create a well balanced food for digestion, metabolism, and energy. Since they’re a bit high on the calories, it is best to not overdo it in quantity. By sticking to raw almonds, you nourish the potency of what it has to offer.
#2) Cottage Cheese
Most people don’t realize that the white goop we see in cottage cheese is actually extremely high in whey protein, obviously whey is one of the best muscle builders we have and has the highest concentration of leucine. Together in one food source, cottage cheese will give your body exactly what it needs.
Here’s a tip: add a bit of cottage cheese to your healthy meals. It’s great as a dip, spread or a topping. Mix it into your protein shakes. Warm it up and toss it on your chicken. Put it on top of a whole wheat pastry and throw it in the oven. The options are limitless.
Everyone knows that eggs are great for you. Each are about 70 calories, and they’re lean while also giving fuel to the muscles. The yolk itself contains choline, which is the most abundant neurotransmitter in your body and because of this, your brain will be well nourished. With 330 mg of leucine per egg, it’s important to implement eggs into some of your meals throughout the day.
Nearly every personal trainer says that chicken is the leanest source of protein and tells you right away to implement it in your diet. They’re right! But not only that, personal trainers also know that chicken is one of the best sources for leucine. It’s perfect because a chicken breast at only 100 – 200 calories will give you 3 grams of leucine and 20 grams of protein.
If you want to lose more fat and gain more muscle, there’s no question about it. Chicken is the best source of protein you can have and should always be in stock.
Not only is edamame packed with proteins and leucine, but it also contains omega fatty acids that will help your nervous system. The combination will reduce inflammation and keep your brain functioning while you are at the gym. One of the great things about edamame is that it’s taste is always different, depending on whatever seasonings and sides it is served with.
Beats are a great secret among scientists. They contain performance-enhancing nitrates that make for a better workout. It will increase perceptions and allow more oxygen into your body. The result will allow for more muscle building.
Here’s a tip: a recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that by eating two beets an hour before you workout will work as a mental motivator. You might find that you last longer during weight lifting and can be less tired during cardio regiments.
#7) Water and Coffee
Caffeine will always give you a better work out, since it fills you with energy and stimulates the muscles. Also, coffee has a lot of antioxidents which can help prevent cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee drinkers are proven to last longer at the gym and have a better mental state throughout the day.
Since muscles are 80% water, even a minor increase of water intake can profoundly improve muscle growth. Muscles that are well-hydrated (and not dehydrated) have more life in them, giving them better sustainability while they build. The more dehydrated, the slower your body uses protein and leucine.