Making smart food choices during the colder months can be a tasty and enjoyable experience if you delve into a selection of delicious recipes and cooking ideas. Proper flavoring is a key aspect for fitness competitors and bodybuilders due to the many weeks of strict dieting they endure. One has to become creative in order to keep the simple and repetitive foods exciting and flavorful. There are limited food choices when dieting so in order to help vary the constant repetition you need to look for alternative ways of cooking that include new and flavorful spices and recipes which are incredibly tasty and low in calories!
Winter brings us hearty wonderful greens brimming with phytonutrients and these items are virtually fat free. Green vegetables consist of a carbohydrate source which is non starchy and useful in low-calorie meal plans that are low in fat and carbohydrates.
Different types of squash are also a winter vegetable but tend to contain a little more starch and are best eaten in moderation during the dieting phase of your pre-contest preparation. Spaghetti squash makes for a great alternative to traditional spaghetti when you need to cut down on the carbs.
When it comes to corn, I suggest avoiding or limiting this food item in your diet. Peas and carrots should also be limited as they are starchy foods as well. I suggest getting your sources of starch elsewhere and filling your carbohydrate choices with greens instead. Green beans, spinach and broccoli are all low-fat, excellent quality carbs to include in your meal plan, so you can really fill up on these items. Include yams, squash, carrots, peas and sweet potatoes post-workout to refill glycogen levels. The rest of your starchy carb sources should come from grains which are whole wheat and include quinoa, oats, brown rice and Ezekiel bread.
Fruits can be very sweet and full of natural sugar (fructose). Although these are natural, nutrient dense foods, the sugar contained in them is not ideal for fat loss since fructose fills up liver glycogen and not muscle glycogen like starchy carbs do. Fruit has tons of vitamins and minerals and is great for maintaining a healthy diet but for pre-contest preparation is not going to be your best choice for getting absolutely shredded and vascular. With this being noted, some people with ectomorphic body types (naturally very lean) can handle fruit in their diet, even pre-contest. Fruits actually work well and depending on your diet goals you may not need to be as strict. Two servings is a normal portion size and try to choose grapefruit or a lower glycemic choice while seeking optimal fat loss. Slowly incorporate other fruits, including the sweet ones but only as a treat once in a while. It is not uncommon for competitors to exclude fruit completely during the lean down phase of their diets but when they do have fruit it is always fresh and organic. Local farmers markets are excellent for finding fruit and other fresh vegetables.
The protein foods in your diet including poultry, fish and meat alternatives can get rather bland so it’s important to jazz them up a little with different spices, herbs and other special ingredients.
Lemons and limes are a natural flavor source which work very well on top of any food and they are great for marinades and dressings. Cracked pepper goes well with this combo as well. Extra virgin olive oil is excellent for salad dressing along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Other oils that are great for toppings and also rich with essential fatty acids which help with your fat loss goals include flaxseed and Udo’s Oils.
Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, wines, beer, fruit juices, vinegars, ciders, mustards and low-fat yogurt are all interchangeable when used in various combinations for salads, marinades, sauces and dips. If sodium is an issue, then choose salt-free choices from the above list. Use them in moderation since they can be rather high in calories.
Another excellent food choice to use is almonds but make sure they are raw and unsalted. Use whole, grated or chopped almonds since they can liven up any protein meal as a topping, or to any salad and can virtually go on top of most meals with just a sprinkle which adds a nutty taste to your food. Hemp and mustard seeds also add some “pop” to your meals. Avocados are an excellent healthy fat source you can use mashed with the above flavorings or chopped raw atop foods.
Salsas are also excellent toppings and can easily be made with items which are all diet friendly such as a lime and lemon combo mentioned above, avocados, onions of various types including chives, tomatoes (cherry, plum) along with cilantro, parsley, and a sprinkle of chilis!
Add your favorite vinegar to the salsa to kick it up a notch and make your dish exciting. These are just a few ideas which should help take you through the rest of the season with your fitness and physique goals in check and your diet really dialed in so you can look as shredded as possible!