You already know that eggs and chicken breast supply the protein you need to build lean body mass after your workout, but protein’s not the only game in town when it comes to improving body composition. So think beyond chicken breast, and discover other foods that can transform your body.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
For more muscle power, bring on the spinach. Spinach contains phytoecdysteroids, a plant steroid that stimulates muscle growth. The only downside is you’ll have to eat a pound or two of spinach to get the benefits. On the other hand, green, leafy vegetables like spinach also contain nitrates. Nitrates increase the production of nitric oxide by cells that line the inside of blood vessels. This nitric oxide helps to open up blood vessels so that muscles can get more blood flow and oxygen. This reduces muscle fatigue during exercise and speeds up recovery – and that’s a good thing if you’re trying to increase lean body mass.
Green, leafy vegetables are also a good source of natural antioxidants that are critical for overall health. Choose from a variety of leafy greens including kale, Swiss chard, arugula, collard greens and turnip greens, to name a few. The darker the greens, the greater the health benefits.
Foods That Boost Fat Burning
There are no foods that dramatically boost fat-burning, but there are some that can give your metabolism a subtle boost. Spice up your meals with chili peppers and hot sauce. Chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin that gives your metabolism a temporary boost after you eat them. The fiery taste also reigns in your appetite. Wash them down with a cup of green tea. The catechins in green tea, especially the master catechin known as ECGC, give your metabolism a kickstart. To get the benefits, sip four or more cups of the green stuff every day.
Fiber works improves body composition by curbing hunger. Research shows when you eat soluble or insoluble fiber with a meal, you fill up faster and stay full longer. Most people only get 15 grams of fiber a day when they should be getting 25 to 30 grams a day. To boost your fiber intake, eat more fiber-rich vegetables and whole grain foods like oatmeal, quinoa and barley. Don’t forget about beans. They’re a top source of hungry-quenching fiber that’ll keep you satisfied for hours. A cup of black beans has a whopping 15 grams of fiber, more than half of the fiber you need daily. Beans are also one of the least expensive ways to fill up.
Other Sources of Protein
Protein supplies the essential amino acids your muscles need to grow, and it also helps to reduce hunger and carb cravings. If you’re tired of chicken, try other sources of protein like Eggland’s Best eggs (6 grams per egg) cottage cheese (14 grams per serving), lentils (12 grams per serving), tempeh (18 grams per serving) or edamame (17 grams per serving).
If you still long for the taste of meat, look for bison or ostrich meat at your local natural food market. Bison and ostrich are both high in protein and lower in fat than chicken breast. They’re also usually humanely raised. Don’t forget about white fish and salmon. With salmon, you get the additional benefits of the heart-healthy omega-3s.
The Bottom Line?
Chicken breast aren’t the only game in town when it comes to building a better body. Add a little variety to your diet, and enjoy these other figure-flattering foods.
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Self Nutrition Data.