Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AristoLife: My Nutrition Guides

A lot of people always ask me about my diet and the foods that I eat. I have done plenty of diets and what always tell people is nothing will work that you cannot keep up for your lifetime. Fitness is a lifestyle change that calls for improving the quality of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. What I have done is taken the information that's out there (what we are all told from young age about the food pyramid) and adapted to my life. Not everyone likes spinach, for example, but you can find an alternative that is delicious to you. Anyway, Men's Health's "Abs Diet" is the template I have used for a while now. The magazine always has a recipe each month made from several of the foods recommended in the Abs Diet. The letters that make up A-B-S D-I-E-T P-O-W-E-R represent a particular food group that plays a vital role in promoting good health and fitness (link to the site is http://www.absdiet.com/uof/absdiet/power12.html):

Almonds and other Nuts
(Eat them with their nutrient-rich skins intact.)
Superpowers :: Building muscle, fighting food cravings
Secret weapons :: Protein, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, folate (in peanuts), fiber, magnesium, phosphorus
Fight against :: Obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer, high blood pressure
Sidekicks :: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocados
Impostors :: Salted or smoked nuts. High sodium spikes blood pressure.

Beans and other Legumes
(including soybeans, chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, lima beans)
Superpowers :: Building muscle, helping burn fat, regulating digestion
Secret weapons :: Fiber, protein, iron, folateFight against :: Obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure
Sidekicks :: Lentils, peas, bean dips, hummus, edamame
Impostors :: Refried beans, which are high in saturated fats; baked beans, which are high in sugar

Spinach and other Green Vegetables
Superpowers :: Neutralizing free radicals (molecules that accelerate the aging process)
Secret weapons :: Vitamins including A, C, and K; folate; beta-carotene; minerals including calcium and magnesium; fiber
Fight against :: Cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis
Sidekicks :: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts; green, yellow, red, and orange vegetables such as asparagus, peppers, and yellow beans
Impostors :: None, as long as you don't fry them or smother them in fatty cheese sauces

Dairy Products
(fat-free or low-lat milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese)
Superpowers :: Building strong bones, firing up weight loss
Secret weapons :: Calcium, vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium
Fight against :: Osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer
Sidekicks :: None
Impostors :: Whole milk, frozen yogurt

Instant Oatmeal
(unsweetened, unflavored)
Superpowers :: Boosting energy and sex drive, reducing cholesterol, maintaining blood-sugar levels
Secret weapons :: Complex carbohydrates and fiber
Fights against :: Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, obesity
Sidekicks :: High-fiber cereals like All-Bran and Fiber One
Impostors :: Cereals with added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup

Superpowers :: Building muscle, burning fat
Secret weapons :: Protein, vitamins A and B12
Fight against :: Obesity
Sidekicks :: Egg Beaters
Impostors :: None

Turkey and Other Lean Meats
(lean steak, chicken, fish)
Superpowers :: Building muscle, improving the immune system
Secret weapons :: Protein, iron, zinc, creatine (beef), omega-3 fatty acids (fish), vitamins B6 (chicken and fish) and B12, phosphorus, potassium
Fight against :: Obesity, mood disorders, memory loss, heart disease
Sidekicks :: Shellfish, Canadian bacon, omega-3-rich flaxseed
Impostors :: Sausage, bacon, cured meats, ham, fatty cuts of steak (T-bone & rib eye)

Peanut Butter
(all-natural, sugar-free)
Superpowers :: Boosting testosterone, building muscle, burning fat
Secret weapons :: Protein, monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, niacin, magnesium
Fights against :: Obesity, muscle loss, wrinkles, cardiovascular disease
Sidekicks :: Cashew and almond butters
Impostors :: Mass-produced sugary and trans fatty peanut butters

Olive Oil
Superpowers :: Lowering cholesterol, boosting the immune system
Secret weapons :: Monounsaturated fat, vitamin E
Fights against :: Obesity, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure
Sidekicks :: Canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil
Impostors :: Other vegetable and hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fatty acids, margarine

Whole Grain Breads and Cereals
Superpower :: Preventing your body from storing fat
Secret weapons :: Fiber, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc
Fight against :: Obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease
Sidekicks :: Brown rice, whole-wheat pretzels, whole-wheat pastas
Impostors :: Processed bakery products like white bread, bagels, and doughnuts; breads labeled wheat instead of whole wheat

Extra Protein Whey Powder
Superpowers :: Building muscle, burning fat
Secret weapons :: Protein, cysteine, glutathione
Fights against :: Obesity
Sidekick :: Ricotta cheese
Impostor :: Soy protein

Rasberries and other Berries
Superpowers :: Protecting your heart; enhancing eyesight; improving memory; preventing cravings
Secret weapons :: Antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, tannins (cranberries)
Fight against :: Heart disease, cancer, obesity
Sidekicks :: Most other fruits, especially apples and grapefruit
Impostors :: Sugary jellies

The above is a great template and guide for helping you decide which foods to purchase from the grocery store. The Best Life Diet (no direct affiliation with the Abs Diet) was written by Bob Greene. Bob Greene is Oprah Winfrey's trainer, and he has written a book that helps you actually shop for food. Once you know the "power foods" it is hard to glean through the grocery store and pick the right things. Bob Greene's "Best Life" label is on the foods he has approved to be within the constraints of the diet. He also discusses some of the chemical preservatives to avoid like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, flours, an abundance of sugar and so on. More info can be found at www.thebestlife.com.

I have used both The Abs Diet and The Best Life books as guides. They are not diets and I don't read the books anymore as I have incorporated healthy foods into my daily eating habits. It is about finding something that suits your lifestyle and that you will be able to maintain for the duration of your lifetime.

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