IT’S TRUE. YOU really are what you eat. And that’s why some days you end up feeling more like a cream-filled Twinkie than the lean cut of beef you aspire to.
But you probably already know that. That’s why, like all of us, you’re most likely trying to clean up your act and start eating healthy. But the truth is, that’s just not enough. Because if you’re gorging yourself on apples, bananas, and salads made with iceberg lettuce, you may be eating healthy-but you’re not eating smart.
In order to build the body you want (the thunderous arms and the rock-hard abs, the lightning-quick brain and the unquenchable libido) you need to make every bite of food you put in your mouth count. That means building your diet around the most potent, nutrient-dense, disease-fighting, muscle-growing foods around.
But where do you start? And what foods are the absolute fittest? To find out, we decided to put some of the nation’s top nutritionists to the test.
The cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat in these green health bombs can help keep your body strong and pain free. University of Buffalo researchers found that competitive women runners who ate less than 20 percent fat were more likely to suffer injuries than those who consumed at least 31 percent. Peter J. Horvath, Ph.D., a professor at the university, speculates that the problem is linked to extreme low-fat diets, which weaken muscles and joints. “A few slices of avocado a day are a great way to boost fat for women who are fat shy,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Thanks to bananas’ high potassium content, peeling one is a speedy solution to that stitch in your side. While a lack of sodium is the main culprit behind muscle cramps, studies show potassium plays a supporting role: You need it to replace sweat losses and help with fluid absorption. Bananas are also packed with energizing carbohydrates. One medium-size fruit has 400 milligrams of potassium and as many carbs (29 grams) as two slices of whole-wheat bread.