We sometimes like to bash mainstream dietitians for their often myopic views on nutrition (see years of claims that creatine is a steroid and protein is bad for your kidneys). To be fair, the talking heads on television usually get it right when dishing out big-picture advice. After all, who can argue with the suggestion to load our dinner plates with more vegetables and fewer french fries? [paragraph] Occasionally, though, they truly miss the mark. Sadly, slip-ups such as "eat fewer eggs and more low-fat foods" tend to attract media attention like bugs to a halogen headlamp. They get repeated so often that you're too chicken to eat eggs, and so scared of the dark you'll eat only white meat. The inevitable outcome of this narrow lifestyle is stymied muscle growth and a palate that begs for variety. In an effort to weed out the nutritional maxims that could be hindering your quest for a better body, we've identified--and freshened up--nine stale food rules.
BAD ADVICE NO. 1: Eschew Dark Poultry
* Chicken breasts must have a hard-working PR team. After all, when asked what's the healthiest part of the bird, what's your answer? We thought so. But contrary to popular belief, the juicier, darker poultry meat on drumsticks, legs and thighs isn't loaded with as much fat as a plastic surgeon's trash can.
In fact, these protein-packed cuts have virtually the same amount of calories and saturated fat as breasts, and more testosterone-boosting zinc. Plus, they're easier on the wallet and are less likely to dry out when cooked. Just make sure to pitch the fat-laden skin.
BAD ADVICE NO. 2: Eat Egg Whites, Toss the Yolk
* Whole eggs have a tougher time spinning their bad rep than AIG CEOs. That's because we've been told that consuming egg yolks raises blood cholesterol levels and thus increases the risk of heart problems. But a growing chorus of health experts agrees that feasting on the yolk is the way to go.
Since about two-thirds of the cholesterol in our blood is made by the liver, it should come as no surprise that several recent studies found no link between eating whole eggs and incidence of heart attack or stroke in healthy people. In fact, a University of Connecticut (Storrs) study showed that subjects consuming 640 mg of cholesterol from egg yolks a day for 30 days didn't experience an increase in the LDL (bad) cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease. A Thai study found that when healthy subjects downed one egg every day for 12 weeks, their levels of heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol rose, possibly because of the lecithin in egg yolks.
The yellow center also houses nutrients such as brain-boosting choline, omega fats and vitamin D, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin--two antioxidants that protect eyesight. Subjects eating egg yolks also gained more muscle size and strength while following a weight-training program compared to those not consuming egg yolks. So for every two eggs you wolf down, make sure at least one is whole.
BAD ADVICE NO. 3: Don't Cook Vegetables
* The theory that cooked vegetables are less nutritious is half-baked. Scientists say the application of heat can make it easier to absorb certain antioxidants by altering their structure. For instance, the powerful anti-cancer antioxidant lycopene is more potent in pasta sauce than in raw tomatoes. Similarly, carrots and spinach pony up more beta-carotene when cooked, and an Italian study reported that steamed broccoli contains more glucosinolates--plant compounds lauded for their cancer-fighting abilities.
But the method of cooking is important. Boiling and pressure-cooking draw out water-soluble nutrients and antioxidants such as muscle-repairing vitamin C. Griddling (on a flat metal surface with no oil), microwaving and steaming are better for preserving nutrients. You'd be wise to eat copious raw and lightly cooked vegetables.
BAD ADVICE NO. 4: Chug 8 Cups of Water Per Day
* Proper hydration is vital to strength, muscle growth and overall health, so we suggest you don't follow such a loose guideline with questionable origins. Instead, heed the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine's recommendation that men aim for at least 16 cups of water per day (128 ounces). This may seem like a lot, but it includes the water in fruits, vegetables, milk and soup. If you exercise in hot, humid conditions or are prone to sweating buckets, swallow closer to 20 cups of [H.sub.2]O.
Monitor your water intake just as you watch your protein consumption. A telltale sign is the color of your urine--it should run clear.
BAD ADVICE NO. 5: Steer Clear of Fatty Dairy
* An unfortunate side effect of the push to consume more fat-free cheese, milk and yogurt is that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is left out of the average American's diet. Research is piling up that CLA has heart-protective qualities, and can improve bone health and ramp up fat-burning. Strip all the fat from milk and you bid adieu to CLA. So choose low-fat dairy options. Even better, select organic milk: Studies show that milk from grass-fed cows contains significantly more CLA and omega-3 fats than milk from grain-fed cows. Visit eatwild.com to find an organic source near you.
BAD ADVICE NO. 6: Gorge on Goji Berries
* As headlines trumpet the health benefits of acai and goji berries, more of us are spending a lot of green on their juice, powder and whole forms. While these obscure tropical fruits are brimming with antioxidants beneficial to bodybuilders, there's no proof they're better than the much cheaper, locally grown berries. So reach for blueberries, cranberries and strawberries instead of imbibing in a $40 bottle of goji juice.
BAD ADVICE NO. 7: Avoid White Potatoes
* French fries and potato chips are best approached with extreme caution, but the uncompromised spud can play a big role in your physique-sculpting efforts. True, the potato is a fast-digesting carbohydrate, but this is exactly what you want post-workout. Down 1-2 taters after hoisting iron and you'll spike levels of insulin, the anabolic hormone that drives amino acids, creatine and glucose into your muscles to facilitate recovery and growth.
The belief that white potatoes are little more than an ab-thickening waste of calories is misguided; they're actually flush with essential nutrients such as fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins [B.sub.6] and C. Bottom line: Include slower-burning carbs such as brown rice, lentils, quinoa and sweet potatoes in most meals, but enjoy fast-digesting carbs such as bananas, white potatoes and white rice (along with some protein) after a good pump fest.
BAD ADVICE NO. 8: Eat Gobs of Salmon
* Salmon has become a regular blip on the media radar thanks to all of its disease- and fat-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Yes, nutritionally dense fish like salmon should be a big part of your physique-sculpting diet, but you should expand your seafood repertoire to include Arctic char, barramundi, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout and sardines. These undervalued swimmers are full of the same omega fats and muscle-building protein as salmon but are often less pricey so you don't have to skimp on portion size. You'll not only add much-needed variety to your diet but also worry less about contamination.
BAD ADVICE NO. 9: Focus on Complex Carbs
* Contrary to popular belief, complex carbohydrates--composed of three or more single sugar molecules linked together--don't necessarily burn more slowly. Long chains of these sugar molecules are often referred to as starches and serve as the storage form of energy in plants.
While some complex carbs such as beans, brown rice, oats and pumpernickel bread are indeed broken down into glucose rather slowly, others such as maltodextrin (a shortish chain of linked glucose molecules), many processed cereals, and white bread, potatoes and rice can send blood sugar on a Rocky Mountain high fairly quickly. If they're eaten often, the rapid dumping of sugar into your bloodstream can mess with energy levels and promote bodyfat storage.
Plus, scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston recently discovered that post-meal surges in blood sugar can decrease circulating testosterone by about 25%. So chow on fast-digesting carbs immediately after exercise and slow carbohydrates at other times to reduce fatigue, quell hunger and help you become a round-the-clock fat-burning machine.
BY MATTHEW G. KADEY, MSc, RD | PHOTOS BY JOHN KELLY
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD, is a Canada-based dietitian and nutrition writer (wellfedman.com)
[for references, visit muscleandfitness.com]
Kadey, Matthew G. "Menace to satiety: some foods are serving time for crimes they didn't commit." Joe Weider's Muscle & Fitness Nov. 2009: 174+. General OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A208289592
Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care
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