If you are unsure about whether to order the juicy medium-well steak or the penne primavera, you may find the right answer based on how you exercise.
A carbolicious treat for endurance athletes
Why? If you do around 60 minutes of a moderate to high intensity cardiovascular exercise (i.e. running, walking at fast pace, kick boxing) four times a week, say hello to tortillas, bread, pasta and beans. Just try to toss some animal protein for iron. Select whole-wheat versions and eat them after working out. This type of food will restock the glycogen storage to keep your muscles ready for the next session while supplying enough fiber to keep your hunger in control.
Best Cuisines: Mexican and Italian. The tomatoes, olive oil, avocado and spices such as oregano, basil and rosemary will also help to decrease inflammation and to combat free radicals associated to endurance activities.
Meat for muscles
Why? If you really want to show off some muscle, stick to a diet rich in protein, zinc and vitamin B. Think of turkey, chicken, fish and red meat. Select the leanest cuts. Keep in mind that to build muscle you need some fat to produce hormones such as testosterone. Regardless of gender, we all need testosterone to have a lean and toned body. Dairy and eggs are a great source of protein as well.
The vegetable protein quinoa is a great option to get all the essential amino acids to build up some muscle. Serious squat aficionados should add carbohydrates rich in antioxidants to help to relieve some muscle pain. You can get this with two servings of fruits daily such as pineapple, apple or cherries.
Best Cuisines: Caribbean and South America offer the best on meat dishes and tropical fruits
Omega 3s for your mind
Why? If you’re having trouble feel that muscle and mind connection while doing your asanas, a yoga posture, you may need some omega 3 fatty acids, which studies show can enhance memory and concentration. Nothing beats salmon, tuna, walnuts and flaxseed. Don’t forget to include in your diet calcium, zinc, magnesium and fiber, which are all important nutrients to keep your brain, muscles and bones in shape. Soy will fit the bill, just make sure that you include it through natural sources such as tofu, soybeans and not processed ones, such as soy chips and soy burgers. Drink black tea to decrease the “stress hormone” cortisol, which is detrimental for overall performance.
Best Cuisine: Japanese
Why? If your primary goal is just to be healthy, eat the Mediterranean way, which includes mono saturated fats (olive oil, nuts, almonds) omega 3 fatty acids (fish), fruits and even a glass of red wine and a tiny piece of dark chocolate. This diet allows you not just to keep the pounds at bay but nourish your heart, brain, muscles and joints.
Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.