A healthy diet is crucial for men and women aiming to shed body fat and build lean muscle. Certain foods can actually help burn through fat and build muscle, making weight loss and muscle growth easier than ever. Choosing the right foods throughout the day will accelerate your progress and help you make the most of your workout routine.
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Foods to Build Muscle and Burn Fat
A diet to lose weight and build muscle should include foods that increase satiety, assist your body in burning fat and stoke your metabolism. According to David Zinczenko, author of the book “The Abs Diet,” power foods such as beans, almonds, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, olive oil, dark leafy greens and protein powder all contain properties that help dieters achieve their maximum fat-burning potential. Your diet should be high in protein, the building block of muscle, and should include healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which help restore muscle glycogen stores and keep insulin functioning to bring amino acids into muscles. For optimal muscle growth and fat loss, aim for about 40 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent to 40 percent from protein and 20 percent to 30 percent from healthy fats.
Fuel up in the morning with a breakfast high in protein and healthy carbs to start the day right. A bowl of oatmeal with almonds, strawberries and vanilla protein powder, a protein smoothie made with skim milk, frozen fruit, protein powder and yogurt, or an omelet with eggs, cheese and vegetables offers plenty of fat-burning power foods to kick-start your metabolism. If you work out first thing in the morning, try a banana with peanut butter or half a protein bar pre-workout, followed by breakfast after your workout.
Keep your metabolic fire burning by making use of fat-burning foods at lunch. Try a whole-grain wrap with turkey or chicken, fresh vegetables, avocado and hummus, or keep it vegetarian with a veggie burger, tempeh or beans in place of meat. Round out the meal with a side of baby carrots or fruit dipped in almond butter. If you go out to lunch with colleagues, look for salads with lean protein sources such as grilled chicken and ask for dressing on the side, or opt for a sandwich on whole-grain bread and substitute vegetables or a baked sweet potato for fries. Sushi made with brown rice is another healthy option for people on the go.
Refuel after a long day with salmon, tilapia or a halibut and roasted or steamed vegetables atop a bed of quinoa, or a large green salad topped with fish and olive oil and vinegar. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are healthy fats that may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease and help with brain function, and they're packed with protein to aid in muscle recovery and growth. If you prefer to end the night on a sweet note, try dipping strawberries or sliced apples into an ounce of melted dark chocolate.