In a world of poor food choices there are still plenty of superfoods that are pretty damn good for you!
And guess what, they do not need a list of additives, sugars and monstrous fats to make them taste good either.
From my experience and research into healthy living and weight loss I have discovered, and am still discovering almost daily the secrets to a healthier and leaner way of life through better food choices
You see nutrition goes far deeper than just a fuel to keep us going
Damn, if you believe that food is just a fuel then you very mistaken my food loving friend!
In this post I am going to open your eyes to what food really is and why we need a vast variety of foods to deliver the nutrient, vitamin and mineral load our bodies need to survive!
But don’t worry, I’m not going to get all technical and nerdy about it all with you, I’m just going to give you the facts as straight as I can
How’s that for a deal?!
Thought you might like that
So food is not just a fuel…but you knew that right?
Food is for growth, food is for detoxification and food is for regeneration
What you eat defines you, not just your size or your shape, but who you are, the way you feel, how you act, how you live and in so many cases how you die!
If you continue to eat all the wrong foods you can easily become overweight, ill, fatigued, moody and suffer with a whole host of physical and mental conditions, some of which can end with a shortened life.
On the other hand, were you to eat more lean and clean foods you can quite easily see the opposite happening, starting with a leaner, stronger physique, better quality sleep, boundless amounts of energy, reduced illnesses and a longer and healthier life
Now I don’t know about you but the latter definitely resonates with me
You see we are, what we eat
No 2 ways about it
I’ve said it before and I will say it again… “if you eat crap you will look and feel crap!”
The body regenerates itself from a cellular level every 30-40 days, and it regenerates from the very foods you are consuming. If you are filling yourself with nutrient rich foods, cram packed with all the vitamins and minerals that your body craves what do you think happens to your body?
You effectively eliminate harmful toxins, you remove excess water, you utilise more of the food for growth and fuel, you store less fat, you nourish your brain and you arm your immune system with everything it needs to combat illness and free radicals so that you can reduce the risks of life changing and life threatening conditions
Now what happens if you fill your body with foods that are cram packed with such things as MSG’s, trans-fats, additives, enhancers, sugars, salts and empty calories?
Weight gain, poor quality sleep, bad skin, greasy hair, compromised immune system, type 2 diabetes, obesity, poor heart health, digestive problems, brittle bones, inflammatory conditions like asthma, arthritis and worst of all cancer, and not forgetting neurological conditions such as depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s
But that’s just the tip of the ice berg as I could fill this post purely with symptoms of a poor diet
That I might just save for another day
But for today I’m just talking better food choices
And your journey to a healthier life begins here…
If you want to live, if you want to love and you want to lose then these 27 superfood choices need to be added to your diet without further delay for you to really win the fight against fat!
Proteins are the building blocks of the human body, we need to consume proteins to aid in the growth and repair of muscles and with the building of a stronger and leaner you! Proteins help to slow down the rate at which sugars hit the bloodstream, helping to avoid sugar highs and lows. Protein also keeps the metabolism firing on all cylinders as well as keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein on the planet as well as being one of the cheapest too! Go for organic eggs where possible, if not then free range or cage free. Eggs are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D which is another vitamin we are as a nation becoming deficient in. Vitamin D is absorbed into the body primarily through the suns rays, unfortunately with the lack of real sun and the continual demands to be indoors working, any of us do not get the vitamin D levels we need so including eggs regularly in your diet will help to boost your vitamin D levels.
2. Lean Meats
Poultry such as turkey and organic/free range chicken and lean cuts of meats such pork, beef tenderloin, lamb and wild game such as venison and rabbit are all excellent sources of good quality protein. If they are available too and you can stretch to them then more exotic meats such as ostrich and buffalo steaks are also excellent protein sources too. All these meats as well as being quality protein sources also contain essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that the body needs to be strong and healthy, especially if they are pasture raised.
Opting for oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and tuna not only give high quality levels of protein but also deliver a healthy hit of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These acids can improve circulation and manage inflammation. Omega-3 also help to release fat from fat cells and release them into the bloodstream to be shuttled to muscles during exercise to be used as energy. Other great fish proteins include prawns, swordfish, sea bass, trout, haddock, monk fish amongst many others though it is wise to note that you shouldn’t consume too much of the following predatory fish as they may contain higher levels of mercury, these predatory fish include salmon, tuna, swordfish and shark with prawns, crabs and lobster to be avoided in regular meals as they are bottom feeders and can contain contaminates. Try to eat the above no more than 3 servings a week and no more than 2 if in a state of pregnancy.
4. Fermented Soy/Tempah
This is a vegetarian protein option instead of meat. Tempah is a traditional Asian food made from the fermentation of cooked soy beans. Tempah is high in proteins and the fermentation process produces natural antibiotic agents that are believed to increase the body’s resistance to infections. For meat eaters it is a good way of adding variety to the diet and fermented soy doesn’t have the effects on the hormones (testosterone and oestrogen) and with weight gain like some other soya products can.
Are excellent sources of fibre, which is a key nutrient in keeping us feeling full, preventing cravings and controlling blood sugar levels, Lack of fibre can lead to poor digestion and constipation. Legumes are a great source of protein for our meat free eaters and by far a healthier source of nutrients than soy products.
Half a cup of beans can contain roughly 10 grams of fibre as well as plenty of antioxidants. Beans are also cram packed with minerals magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium which many people have deficiencies of. Some beans that I recommend are Aduki beans, Kidney beans, Black beans, Cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chick peas) and pinto beans.
Lentils again are a great source of fibre, they also lack the sulphur that beans have that cause the bloated and gassy feeling that some people get from beans. Lentils also contain manganese, another important mineral essential for growth, wound healing and brain function.
Vegetables are an amazing source of vitamins and minerals and therefore are an essential part of anyone’s diet. If you are not eating at least 5 portions of vegetables a day then should be looking to increase the amount of the vegetables below immediately.
This low in calories Superfood, just 49 in a whole cup of raw spinach. Spinach though provides a huge nutritional boost and is loaded with nutrients such as immunity boosting vitamin A, vitamin K that improves brain and nervous system functioning and antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, manganese, zinc, selenium that fight off unwanted free radicals that can lead to numerous medical conditions. Spinach also delivers a great hit of Calcium and the mineral that we are deficient in the most, magnesium.
These little red healthy eating heroes contain high levels of Vitamin C which help to form collagen. Collagen is the primary component of the body’s connective tissue and is the stuff that connects your bones and tissues together. The more stress you put the body under from training the stronger these tissues need to be. Tomatoes like spinach are rich in vitamins C and E that are well known as well as vitamin A to be enemies of cancer friendly free radicals.
9. Bell Peppers
Red peppers like tomatoes are extremely rich in Vitamin C, in fact eating 1 medium red pepper can deliver around 250% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this vitamin. Vitamin C is not only responsible for building collagen but it is also an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from toxin and free radical damage. Red peppers also contain around 75% of your RDA of Vitamin A as well as 10% of your RDA of fibre and as with their high water content they are great for hydration too. Useless information fact, yellow and red peppers are just riper versions of a green pepper.
10. Cruciferous vegetables
Dark leafy green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, watercress and brussels sprouts are more often known as super foods as they all contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Some of the benefits of these super foods are as follows, they help to protect against cancer developments, boost the immune system and promote bone health. They also help to clear oestrogen levels from the body as oestrogen helps to promote fat storage. These green vegetables are great sources of fibre that will keep your toilet habits regular and keep you feeling fuller for longer, Calcium that promotes bone health and growth and magnesium that naturally balances calcium therefore avoiding calcification. Calcification can lead to some serious conditions like kidney stones and heart disease.
Onions are a great source of calcium, vitamin C and dietary fibre. They also contain flavonoids, which are pigments that give vegetables and fruit their colour. Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and antioxidants are a vital part in the fight against the growing risk of cancer with the darker the colour giving the greater antioxidant load. Onions contain a large amount of sulfur and are especially good for the liver as they help to detoxify heavy metals from the body. And as a sulfur food, onions mix best with proteins, as they stimulate the action of the amino acids to the brain and nervous system. Onions also have antiviral and antibacterial properties making them a necessity in any diet. You can opt for any of the onion family to reap there benefits so that includes white, red and shallots as well as other relatives of the onion garlic, leeks and spring onions.
Chillies have a host of health benefits and they may be one of the single most important foods in the fight against weight gain, simply because they contain a natural compound called exercise and due to a faster lipid (fatty acid) metabolism you will burn more calories (fat) at a resting rate, like sleeping. Capsaicin also helps to improve digestion and increases the efficiency of nutrient absorption through stimulating the production of digestive enzymes. Chilli peppers contains large amounts of phytochemicals in the forms of carotenoids and flavonoids – these two very powerful antioxidants that are essential in fighting free radicals, the main causes of cancer.
So from now on, make sure you spice up your life!!!
Fruits are a natural source of sugar so you have to be wary about how much and what fruits you eat. Fruits like bananas, apples and melon are all high in natural sugar whereas berries are naturally lower. Fruit is a great way to get fibre in to the body as well as them being a great source of vitamins and mineral.
Avocado’s are classed as a fruit but also as a good fat too as they contain monounsaturated fats which helps to lower bad cholesterol and burn fat. Avocado’s are an excellent source of potassium which ensures proper muscle growth and regulates body fluid levels.
14. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are crammed full of Vitamin C just like tomatoes and peppers. They are also loaded with more than 170 cancer fighting phytochemicals, these chemical compounds occur naturally in plants. One such phytochemical group that the citrus fruits contain is the limonoid family. Limonoids are believed to have therapeutic effects such as antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Citrus fruits also help to balance the body’s alkaline levels as too much acidity can lead to heartburn, bloating, belching, water retention, fatigue and constipation with diarrhoea. Try starting your day with a warm glass of water with lemon juice or lemon slice in and see how you feel after a week.
Berries are a great source of antioxidants and fibre as well as being low in calories. Berries contain phytochemicals and flavonoids that may help to prevent and lower the risks of several cancers.
Grains such as the processed ones used in white breads, rice’s and pasta’s generally have little nutrition and are generally high in calories, therefore more likely to cause weight gain. White potatoes are another source of carbohydrates that feature higher on the Glycaemic Index, therefore their sugars can enter the bloodstream faster causing sugar and insulin spikes which can lead to weight gain. But fear not as there still some highly nutritious carbohydrates out there too.
16. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are loaded with carbohydrate energy but are lower in the Glycaemic index value than that of white potatoes. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin A that is in important in the synthesis of protein, the main process of muscle growth. Vitamin A is also involved in the production of glycogen which is the body’s main fuel source for high intensity training. Other good carbs with very impressive health qualities are carrots, parsnip and butternut squash.
17. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)
Quinoa is technically a seed but it is of a higher source of protein than most grains and is a tasty replacement to rice, pasta and porridge. Quinoa is gluten free making it a much easier product to digest especially for those who have gluten intolerances.
Amaranth is in protein and iron and contains three times more fibre than that of wheat! Like quinoa, amaranth is also gluten free.
Believe it or not but we need fat in our diets. We use fatty acids to do anything from building cell membranes, to keeping out sex hormones revving to helping to provide a sustainable level of energy and to slow down the digestion process to allow more time for nutrient absorption.
19. Nuts and nut butters
There are many nuts that are rich in both Omega-3 essential fatty acids and monounsaturated fats as well as being a good source of protein. Some good choices would be walnut, cashew, pistachio, coconut, hazelnut, brazil, macadamia and almond with cashew and almond nut butters being great choices too. With nuts make sure you go for unprocessed, unroasted and unsalted varieties and always try to go for organic nut butter where possible.
20. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one, if not the best source of medium chained triglycerides on the planet. Medium chained triglycerides are easily metabolised and are absorbed rapidly so they can be used as a quick source of energy. And as they are a healthy and beneficial source of saturated fat that can be used to cook at high temperatures too because they do not break down and become rancid like most other fats. When fats become rancid the body will automatically store them as body fat whereas coconut oil actively promotes weight loss and can also be used as a source of energy.
Seeds are a rich source of fibre as well as good fats. Fibre can help you feel fuller for longer as well as helping to combat against constipation. Seeds are ideal as a replacement for nuts if you by chance have a nut allergy.
22. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is another highly beneficial oil as it is high in antioxidants and contains monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fat has been shown to control bad Cholesterol (LDL) levels and raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Always use extra virgin olive oil to cook on low to medium heat or else the oil will break down to a bad fat and all the nutritional benefits will be lost. Also use olive oil to drizzle on salads, mix it with some lemon juice, lime juice and/or garlic for a tasty dressing.
Flaxseed is an awesome source of fibre, antioxidants and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Flax is very versatile and can be sprinkled on meals or added to baking or smoothies though it does tend to thicken them up somewhat. With the high levels of fibre keeping you feeling fuller for longer and the Omega-3 fatty acids helping to free up fat from fat cells and transport it to the muscles to be burnt during exercise it is a perfect item to have in your diet when on a weight loss regime. Safe recommended intakes are 2-6 tablespoons per day.
24. Fish oil supplements
Fish oil supplements are a perfect way for ensuring you get the appropriate levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential part of the diet and have to be consumed as they cannot be produced within the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for increased muscle growth and fat loss. If using fish oil then take 10-15mg 2-3 times daily or if using capsules then ensure they are of the best quality first then follow recommended doses.
Hydration is of the utmost importance. Did you know you could go months without food but in as little as 2 days you could die of dehydration?! Every cell within the body needs water, and if water is not present it can severely limit how your body performs.
Water makes up about 70% of the body and is crucial for every metabolic process so being dehydrated can prevent the body from performing at its best. You should drink at least 2 litres of fresh clean water a day as it helps to flush unwanted toxins out of the body as well as keeping you hydrated. A mere drop of 2% in water can lead to symptoms of dehydration. I recommend drinking bottled or filtered water as it contains far less toxins than that of tap water. These toxins can cling to fat cells making it harder to release fat into the blood stream in order to be burned during exercise. You should be drinking about 2 litres or 1 litre per 50lb of body weight of fresh clean water a day.
26. Green tea
Green tea not only has great antioxidant properties but due to a chemical called EGCG, green tea can help lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. EGCG can also help to boost the immune system. Drinking green tea also helps boost the metabolism so it is a great dietary addition for any weight loss plan.
In a world that is seeing our lands and soils depleted, our foods are slowing but surely delivering less of a nutrient load so supplementation has now become a necessity. And though there are many different supplements available some are not as beneficial as others.
Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in the body but yet one of the ones we are most deficient in too. This essential mineral is paramount to your health and well being. By adding this mineral to your diet you can safely limit or even remove the risks of such threats as osteoporosis, depression, arthritis and asthma. Magnesium is needed to help balance the body’s calcium levels, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Without magnesium calcification can occur which can lead to kidney stones and even worse, heart disease. Magnesium is also essential in the absorption of vitamins and minerals as well as in the utilisation of insulin and glucose. Without magnesium, insulin and glucose levels can become elevated leading to excess glucose being stored as fat, this can then lead to weight gain, obesity and diabetes. I recommend doses of around 400mg a day though it is best to start lower and build up and always opt for the products ending in ‘ate’ as opposed to those ending in ‘oxide’ as the latter are not as well absorbed meaning a waste of your time and money. Please note that a symptoms of a too high dose can be diarrhoea so please as stated, start low then build up.
Magnesium is to me, the most important supplements alongside omega-3 fish oils to include in your diet as they are the 2 that we seem to simply not have enough of.
I have also put together a full list of supplements that I fully recommend as part of your daily diet and you can check those out in this informative blog post
Dedicated to your health and fitness
Simon ‘food for life, not just for fuel’ Anderson
P.s hope you enjoyed todays post and I hope it has inspired you to make better choices within your own diet. Choices that will boost your energy levels, help increase your quality of sleep, improve your health and make weight loss that much easier for you. And as always, if you enjoyed the read then please click one of the share buttons so your friends can enjoy too, and I would be honoured if you would leave a comment, as I love comments!!