Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Why Fish Oil?

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Diet, Paleo
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Why Fish oil?

Why Fish oil?

ish oil, which includes Cod-liver oil, is a significant source of the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.  These fatty acids have numerous, documented health benefits: improved cholesterol balance, reduced inflammation, increased blood flow, reduced rates of heart disease and atherosclerosis, better immune system function,improved brain function, improvement in psychiatric disorders, and prevention of cancers (particularly breast, colon, and prostate).  Improved blood flow and reduced inflammation are of particular interest to athletes.  This enables an athlete to train harder and recover faster.

Even for the non-athlete, the benefits of fish oil are profound.  Including the benefits listed above, studies have shown that fish oil can cause weight loss and improved body composition even when supplementing a very poor diet.  I advise everyone to eat a diet rich in lean meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, with as little starch and refined sugar as possible. However, if you simply refuse to change your diet then I highly recommend you take fish oil.  It’s super easy and will go a long way towards counteracting those McDonald’s extra value meals.

The only significant negative effect of fish oil is that when taken in large doses and combined with drugs like aspirin, it can cause increased bleeding.  This doesn’t mean you will bleed out from a paper cut, but it could be significant if you incurred a life-threatening injury.  This would probably only happen in rare circumstances where you take an extremely large dose and combine that with an anti-coagulant like Aspirin and suffer life-threatening bleeding. I think the benefits far outweigh the risks, but that’s a decision you must make for yourself.

How Much Fish Oil Should I Take?

First, ignore the recommended dosage on the fish oil bottle. Most Americans consume enough Omega-6 fatty acids that the recommended dosage on the bottle would be laughably low in keeping your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in check, which is one of our primary goals of supplementing fish oil. Next, the amount of fish oil you take isn’t nearly as important as the amount of Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids in that fish oil. We are just taking the fish oil for the n-3′s, so it makes sense to pay attention to the n-3 content of your fish oil. This varies wildly by brand and quality. You’re looking for the EPA and DHA content of the fish oil. This will be listed on the back label. To make things simple, total the milligrams of EPA and DHA to get a single amount of n-3 content. So what’s a good number? I’ve seen fish oil from Wal-Mart that has less than 200 mg total per capsule. That’s pretty poor. Most quality fish oil will have 300-600 mg per capsule. That’s pretty good. Anything over 600 mg per capsule is pretty potent stuff, sometimes called “pharmaceutical grade.” If your brand doesn’t list the EPA and DHA content at all (it’s not required by law), then ditch it. That means it’s so pitifully poor that they’re ashamed to list it. Lower quality fish oil also causes “fish burps” much more frequently than high quality fish oil.

Below you can see an example of a fish oil nutritional label. Notice the serving size is 2 capsules. Eachserving has a total of 720 mg of EPA and DHA. Therefore, each capsule contains 360 mg of EPA and DHA. That’s not terrible, but it’s not very good either. You’ll have to consume a lot of capsules to get the necessary n-3 content. Always pay attention to serving size. Many manufacturers (like the one below) will try to trick you into thinking you are buying extremely high quality fish oil by listing a single serving as 2 capsules. They know everyone assumes the nutritional information on the back is given for a single capsule.

Fish Oil Nutritional Data

For comparison, I would have to consume 30 capsules per day of this fish oil to get the same n-3 content that’s in 12 capsules of the more potent fish oil that I take. If you’re serious about getting the correct amount of Omega-3 fatty acids (remember, we’re only taking fish oil for the n-3 content, not the fish oil itself) then bargain brands of fish oil may not be a bargain at all.

I use Member’s Mark triple strength fish oil from Sam’s Club. After tax it is a few cents more than $20 for a bottle of 150 capsules. Each capsule contains 1400 mg (1.4 g) of fish oil and 900 mg combined EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids. Based on recommendations from other CrossFit athletes and my own experimentation, I currently take 12 capsules per day, each with 900 mg of combined n-3 content. I consume the capsules in equal doses at three times throughout the day. That works out to 10800  milligrams (10.8 g) of n-3 per day. That is not the same as milligrams of fish oil. Each capsule is 1400 milligrams of fish oil, so I am taking 16800 mg (16.8 g) of fish oil to get 10800 mg (10.8 g) of Omega-3 fatty acids. The n-3 content is what’s important, not the fish oil itself.

In his book, The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf makes different dosage recommendations based on level of athleticism. He recommends 1g of EPA/DHA per 10 lbs of body weight for sick, overweight, and highly inflamed individuals. For lean, muscular athletes with blood chemistry closer to ancestral norms, he recommends .25-.5 g of EPA/DHA per 10 lbs of body weight. All things considered, I recommend athletes use the upper end of .5 g per 10 lbs of body weight. Use the below tables as a rough guide.

Fish Oil Dosage for Sick and Obese

Fish Oil Dosage for Sick, Overweight, or Inflamed

Fish Oil Dosage for Lean Athletes with Proper Diet

Fish Oil Dosage for Lean Athletes with Proper Diet

If you’re not ready to jump into consuming that much fish oil, that’s OK. I didn’t start out taking that much daily. If you’re apprehensive then just start with 3-5 capsules daily. Once you’ve seen its positive effects then you may want to consider taking more.

More Evidence

Below is a 15-minute video by Barry Sears on the benefits of fish oil, including his results treating Manuel Uribe.  Manuel was the heaviest man on earth at over 1200 pounds.  Eighteen months after adhering to a Zone diet and supplementing with extremely high doses of fish oil he had lost 400 pounds and had the blood chemistry and resting heart rate of a well-trained athlete.  He currently continues his multi-year path to a normal body weight using the Zone and fish oil.  Dr. Sears begins discussing fish oil about 3 minutes into the video.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Diet, Paleo

What Is The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf
Okay To Eat Avoid
Fruits Dairy
Vegetables Grains
Lean Meats Processed Food & Sugars
Seafood Legumes
Nuts & Seeds Starches
Healthy Fats Alcohol

Building A Healthy Paleo Diet

Lean proteins

Lean proteins support strong muscles, healthy bones and optimal immune function. Protein also makes you feel satisfied between meals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing a number of degenerative diseases including cancer, diabetes and neurological decline.

Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and grass-fed meat

Scientific research and epidemiological studies show that diets rich in Monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats dramatically reduce the instances of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline.

Saturated fat has been demonized by our health authorities and media. What is the basis for this position on Saturated fat? Are current recommendations for VERY low saturated fat intake justified? How much saturated fat (and what types), if any should one eat? Without a historical and scientific perspective these questions can be nearly impossible to answer. In this paper Prof. Cordain looks at the amounts and types of saturated fats found in the ancestral diet:Saturated fat consumption in ancestral human diets: implications for contemporary intakes.

One of the greatest deviations away from our ancestral diet is the amounts and types of fat found in modern grain feed animals vs. the amounts and types of fats found in grass fed or wild meat, fowl and fish. What we observe is wild meat is remarkably lean, and has relatively low amounts of saturated fats, while supplying significant amounts of beneficial omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA. In this paper Prof. Cordain and his team analyze the complete fatty acid profile from several species of wild deer and elk. The take home message is that free range meat is far healthier than conventional meat: Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: Evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease.

Benefits of a Paleo Lifestyle

Image courtesy of The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate – http://www.primal-palate.com

Health Benefits

For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is enough. Improved blood lipids, weight loss and reduced pain from autoimmunity is proof enough.  Many people however are not satisfied with blindly following any recommendations, be they nutrition or exercise related. Some folks like to know WHY they are doing something. Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny.

With a very simple shift we not only remove the foods that are at odds with our health (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is a great paper from Professor Loren Cordain exploring how to build a modern Paleo diet: The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. This paper also offers significant insight as to the amounts and ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat in the ancestral diet.

Come on! Our Ancestors lived short, brutal lives! This is all bunk, right?

The Paleo concept is new for most people and this newness can spark many questions. We like people to not only read about and educate themselves on this topic but also to “get in and do it.” Experience is perhaps the best teacher and often cuts through any confusion surrounding this way of eating. Now, all that considered, there are still some common counter arguments to the Paleo diet that happen with sufficient frequency that a whole paper was written on it.

Does it work for diabetes?

A great question to ask is “Does the Paleo diet work”? Here we have a head to head comparison between the Paleo diet and Mediterranean diet in insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetics. The results? The Paleo diet group REVERSED the signs and symptoms of insulin resistant, Type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet showed little if any improvements. It is worth noting that the Mediterranean diet is generally held up by our government as “the diet to emulate” despite better alternatives.

Cardio Vascular Disease

According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Interestingly however, our Paleolithic ancestors and contemporarily studied hunter-gatherers showed virtually no heart attack or stroke while eating ancestral diets. The references below will explore these facts to better help you understand the heart-healthy benefits of a Paleo diet.

Autoimmunity

Autoimmunity is a process in which our bodies own immune system attacks “us.” Normally the immune system protects us from bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. The immune system identifies a foreign invader, attacks it, and ideally clears the infection. A good analogy for autoimmunity is the case of tissue rejection after organ donation. If someone requires a new heart, lung kidney or liver due to disease or injury, a donor organ may be an option. The first step in this process is trying to find a tissue “match”. All of us have molecules in our tissues that our immune system uses to recognize self from non-self. If a donated organ is not close enough to the recipient in tissue type the immune system will attack and destroy the organ. In autoimmunity, a similar process occurs in that an individuals own tissue is confused as something foreign and the immune system attacks this “mislabeled” tissue. Common forms of autoimmunity include Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Vitiligo to name only a tiny fraction of autoimmune diseases. Elements of autoimmunity are likely at play in conditions as seemingly unrelated as Schizophrenia, infertility, and various forms of cancer.

Interestingly, all of these seemingly unrelated diseases share a common cause: damage to the intestinal lining which allows large, undigested food particles to make their way into the body. This is called “leaky gut and the autoimmune response”.

50 Ways to Feed Your Muscles

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Diet, Recovery
Phillip Rhodes • Men’s Health

Every family argues about what to eat for dinner. But the Shrader family of Bluebell, West Virginia, took dinner-table combat to a whole new level last summer when 49-year-old Jackie Lee and his son, Harley Lee, 24, whipped out .22-caliber pistols and exchanged fire after sparring over how to cook their meal.

What food could trigger a kitchen gun battle? The harmless, boneless, skinless—and often flavorless—chicken breast, that’s what.

Sure, this omnipresent cut of poultry is the leanest source of protein this side of tofu or fish—a single serving offers 26 grams of protein for the price of 1 gram of saturated fat. But it’s boring as hell. And it doesn’t help that most people eat their annual average of 88 pounds one of two ways: soaked in Italian salad dressing or slathered in barbecue sauce.

In my mind, that’s exactly how I hear the Shrader feud erupting. “Marinade!” one might have said. “No! Barbecue sauce,” the other yelled. Back and forth it went until it came to blows, then bullets. (Harley Lee took a slug to the head, but managed to survive.)

 

That’s why I came up with this list—not one, not two, but 50 different ways to prepare a chicken breast. What good is eating healthy food if the boredom nearly kills you?


STIR-FRYING

Basic technique: Cut the raw chicken into bite-sized pieces or thin strips. Cook them in a nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Then add the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.Tip: Sesame oil gives stir-fries their distinct flavor. Its nutritional profile is similar to that of olive oil (i.e., high in the unsaturated fats you want). But if you don’t have sesame, use canola or peanut oil, since olive oil can burn at high temperatures.

1. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/2 c green or red bell pepper, cut into strips; 1/4 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2. 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/3 c matchstick carrots; 1/3 c chopped celery; 1 green onion, sliced; 2 Tbsp chopped, unsalted peanuts

3. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/2 c asparagus tips; 2 Tbsp chopped, unsalted cashews

4. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 1 Tbsp lemon juice; 1 tsp lemon zest; 1 tsp honey; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/2 c snow peas; 1 c chopped celery

5. 1 whisked egg; 1/2 c (or more) chopped broccoli; 1/4 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes; 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

6. 1 whisked egg; 1/2 c snow peas; 1/2 c green or red bell pepper, cut into strips; 1/4 onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce


BAKING

Basic technique: Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the chicken breast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an internal roasting thermometer reaches 170°. Don’t overcook it. Err on the side of tenderness. An overcooked, dried-out chicken breast won’t give you salmonella, but you probably won’t want to eat it in the first place.Tip: Quickly searing the breast in a hot skillet will help avoid dryness because it locks in the bird’s juices.

Sauced
Watery ready-made sauces like salsa will bake fine—some of the liquid will boil away as the chicken bakes. But thicker sauces, like barbecue or ranch, need water or broth mixed in, otherwise you’ll be left with a sticky, blackened char.

Tip: Use a small baking dish to keep the meat covered with sauce.

7. 1/3 c salsa

8. 2 Tbsp jalapeño cheese dip, 2 Tbsp salsa, 1 Tbsp water

9. 2 Tbsp marinara sauce, 2 Tbsp water

10. 2 Tbsp barbecue sauce, 2 Tbsp water

11. 2 Tbsp ranch dressing, 2 Tbsp water

12. 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp olive oil

13. 3 Tbsp chicken broth; 1 Tbsp mustard; 1 clove garlic, crushed

14. 2 Tbsp condensed mushroom soup, 2 Tbsp water

15. 2 Tbsp pesto, 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium chicken broth

16. 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 c crushed pineapple with juice

17. 3 Tbsp chicken broth, 2 Tbsp light coconut milk, 1/4 tsp curry powder

18. 1/3 c chicken broth, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 Tbsp apple juice

19. 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar; 1 Tbsp barbecue sauce; 1 clove garlic, crushed

20. 2 Tbsp hot sauce, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp chili powder

21. 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp orange marmalade, 1/4 tsp rosemary

Rubbed
Rub one of the following spice mixtures evenly over each breast, then hit the chicken with a shot or two of cooking spray (not too much, though) to hold the rub in place and help form a light crust when cooking.

22. Tex-Mex style: 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, and oregano; pinch of salt

23. Southwestern: 1/4 tsp each black pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and hot sauce

24. French: 1/4 tsp each dried basil, rosemary, and thyme; pinch of salt and pepper

Crusted
A whisked egg acts like glue, holding the crust to the meat. It also gives your poultry a small protein boost. Crack one open in a shallow bowl, whisk it, and dip the chicken in it. Tip: Put your crust ingredients in a shallow plate instead of a bowl—it’ll be much easier to coat the breast evenly.

25. Nut crusted: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in 1/3 c nuts of your choice, finely chopped. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

26. Parmesan crusted: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in a mixture of 1 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs, and a pinch of black pepper.

27. “Like fried”: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in 1/2 c crushed cornflakes or bran flakes. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Stuffed
Relax, this isn’t hard. First, pound the heck out of the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer or the heel of your hand—you want it to be uniformly thin. (Just be careful not to tear it.) Then, arrange your ingredients on the breast, roll it up, and secure it with toothpicks or kitchen twine so it doesn’t come undone while it’s baking.

28. 1 slice Cheddar cheese, 2 slices deli ham, 1/4 tsp black pepper

29. 1 slice mozzarella cheese; 3 slices pepperoni; 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

30. 1 slice mozzarella; 1/4 c chopped tomatoes; 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

31. 1 small handful baby spinach leaves, chopped; 1 Tbsp blue-cheese crumbles; 1 clove garlic, crushed

32. 1 slice mozzarella, 1 slice salami, 1 Tbsp chopped roasted red pepper

33. 1 1/2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 tsp oregano

34. 1 1/2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp diced olives, 1/4 tsp lemon zest

35. 1 Tbsp pesto, 1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp black pepper

 

GRILLING, SEARING, OR GEORGE FOREMAN-ING

Basic technique: Heat the grill, place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat on the stove until it’s hot, or power up the Foreman. Add the marinated chicken, cooking 3 to 5 minutes per side (6 to 8 total on the Foreman), or until an internal roasting thermometer reaches 170°F. The chicken doesn’t stop cooking when you take it off the heat. If it’s still hot, it’s still cooking. 

Marinades
Marinades need only about an hour or so to penetrate the meat. Whether you’re cooking one chicken breast at a time or four at once, just mix the marinade ingredients well in a resealable plastic bag, drop in the chicken, seal, shake, and refrigerate.

Tip: If you’re grilling, make a little extra marinade and reserve it in a separate bag or bowl. Brush it on the chicken during cooking to keep the meat moist.

36. 2 Tbsp bourbon, 1 tsp deli-style mustard, 1/4 tsp black pepper

37. 2 Tbsp bourbon; 1 tsp honey; 1 clove garlic, crushed

38. 2 Tbsp white wine; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp thyme

39. 2 Tbsp red wine; 1 tsp barbecue sauce; 1 clove garlic, crushed

40. 2 Tbsp Coca-Cola, 1/4 tsp black pepper

41. 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette, 1/4 tsp rosemary

42. 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp black pepper

43. 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1/4 tsp dill

44. 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp curry powder

45. 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp cilantro

46. 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

47. 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cilantro

48. 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

49. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

50. 2 Tbsp pineapple juice; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp black pepper

4 Quick Meals for Busy Athletes

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Diet

By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D. • Runner’s World

In an ideal world, you’d prepare every meal from scratch, using the most nutrient-packed foods possible. In the real world, a hectic work schedule and a commitment to training can leave you with little time and even less energy to cook. Thankfully, when you’re in a time crunch, you can skip a lot of the chopping—or the urge to call for Chinese takeout—because the grocery store is chockablock with healthy, ready-to-use items. Use them to your advantage, and you can set a new PR for a healthy, satisfying postrun meal.

More: What to Eat for Faster Recovery

 

Mediterranean Chicken Pizza

 

“Whole-wheat pizza crust packs in more fiber and vitamins than crust made with refined flour,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D., a Washington, D.C.-based sports dietitian and marathoner who adds that the extra B vitamins in whole wheathelp a runner’s body generate energy during workouts. Prepared chicken-breast strips have a stellar 11-to-1 protein-to-fat ratio to help build muscle. “Enjoy this pizza after a run, when you can benefit from the extra sodium found in packaged chicken to replace what you lose in sweat,” says Scritchfield.

More: 3 Tips to Add Real Fiber to Your Diet

Here’s how: Place a 12-inch whole-wheat pizza crust on a baking sheet and bake at 400¬∞F for 6 minutes. Remove crust and turn oven to broil. Spread 3/4 cup jarred pesto on crust and top with 1 cup packaged arugula, 8 ounces packaged cooked chicken-breast strips (such as Tyson), 2/3 cup jarred, sliced roasted red peppers, 2/3 cup jarred, sliced olives, 1/2 cup torn fresh basil, and 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese. Season with black pepper. Broil for one minute.

Serves: 4
Total time: 15 minutes

Switch Hits

Try baby spinach instead of arugula.

Sub in low-fat grated mozzarella for goat cheese.

Use whole-wheat pitas for mini pizzas.

Swap chicken with canned white tuna.

Sweet and Sour Shrimp Stir-Fry

Not only is shrimp a lean source of protein, “but it also provides the mineral selenium, which may help reduce joint inflammation that runners can experience from training,” says Scritchfield. And the copper in cashews helps a runner’s body use iron properly to carry oxygen to working muscles, she adds. Lima beans have fiber, protein, iron, and potassium, an electrolyte necessary for proper organ and muscle functioning. Frozen Asian vegetables provide antioxidants.

More: Your Guide to Antioxidants

Here’s how: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook 2 teaspoons jarred, minced garlic, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 package frozen Asian vegetable medley, and 1 cup frozen lima beans for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 package frozen cooked shrimp; cook 3 minutes. Add 1 cup unsalted cashews, one 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, I/3 cup of the canned pineapple juice, and 1 cup jarred sweet-and-sour sauce; heat for 2 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

Serves: 4
Total time: 15 minutes

Switch Hits

Try frozen mango instead of pineapple.

Omit lima beans in favor of edamame or fava beans.

Swap out the shrimp for cooked, packaged chicken strips.

Crunchy Cocoa Chili

A 2011 European Journal of Nutrition study found that polyphenol antioxidants in cocoa can blunt the muscle-damaging effects of oxidative stress resulting from exercise. “Canned beans are a good source of carbohydrates and lean protein, the two key nutrients runners need for exercise recovery,” Scritch-field says. Furthermore, University of Arkansas scientists determined that soy protein, which is abundant in tofu, can stimulate protein synthesis, making this no-fuss vegetarian chili a smart postexercise meal option.

More: Pre- and Post-Workout Meals in 15 Minutes

Here’s how: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and one 8-ounce package of sliced cremini mushrooms; cook 4 minutes. Stir in 1 block of firm tofu (diced), 2 teaspoons cumin powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon jarred, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste; cook 3 minutes. Add one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, one 6-ounce can tomato paste, one 15-ounce can each of black and kidney beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup frozen corn, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder; simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with crumbled whole-grain tortilla chips on top.

Serves: 6
Total time: 40 minutes

Switch Hits
Use frozen peas to replace corn.

Cook lean ground chicken breast with the onion instead of tofu.

Swap the tortilla chips for shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Mini Salmon Loaves with Salsa

“Canned salmon is a very rich source of DHA, a type of omega-3 fat that promotes brain health and helps lower blood triglycerides to reduce heart-disease risk,” says Scritchfield. What’s more, University of California researchers discovered that DHA can improve skeletal-muscle blood flow during exercise. Just be sure to check that the label says “wild salmon” to avoid high mercury levels. Oats have fiber and magnesium, a bone-building mineral that may also slash diabetes risk by improving insulin sensitivity.

More: 3 Tips to Add Real Fiber to Your Diet

Here’s how: Combine two 5-oz. cans wild salmon (drained), 1 cup frozen chopped spinach (thawed), 1 diced red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped dill, juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup quick-cook rolled oats, 2 large eggs, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture among 12 lightly greased muffin cups and bake at 375¬∞F for 20 minutes. Let cool before unmolding, and serve topped with jarred salsa.

Serves: 4
Total time: 30 minutes

Switch Hits
Try canned crab instead of salmon.

Swap out red bell pepper for diced frozen asparagus.

Trade spinach for collard greens.
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