Your refrigerator can be a minefield of temptations (late-night munchies anyone?), or a stockpile of all the ammo you need for building muscle. Which one depends on how you fill it. Make sure these nine essentials items are on-hand for pre and post workout meals and your refrigerator will always be a friend, not foe.
Besides offering a complete amino acid profile, cottage cheese contains a solid amount of whey and casein protein, says certified sports nutritionist Tony Ricci, PsyDc, FISSN, CSCS, PES, CDN. “Its higher casein levels help to slow protein kinetics, which can help to keep a positive nitrogen status for a longer duration,” he says. This creates the ideal environment to grow new muscle tissue
The incredible egg is cheap (as low as 25 cents each) and a nutritional powerhouse containing all 9 essential amino acids and about 8 grams of protein. It also has a solid amount of vitamin B-12, which is necessary for fat breakdown, and helps your brain and muscles communicate for better contraction during lifts.
Avocados can help with weight loss. Eating half an avocado can lower your a desire to snack afterward by 40 percent, says a recent study in the Nutrition Journal. They also have plenty of ALA, a precursor to Omega-3s, which can help reduce delayed on-set muscle soreness.
Berries are a low glycemic food, which curbs cravings and blood sugar crashes. They are also a top antioxidant to help repair damaged muscles tissues and calm inflammation to speed up recovery. Any berry will do: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are always winners.
This healthy dairy product has twice the protein of regular yogurt to help with muscle repair as well as lower levels of sugar and salt. Skip the fruit flavored brands and add your own berries and nuts.
To build bigger muscles you need to feed them protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s can improve recovery because it also helps increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis, according to a 2011 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Wild salmon also delivers a solid punch of vitamin D—988 IU per 3.5 oz. serving, which is almost two-thirds (65 percent) more than the RDA of 600 IU. Vitamin D can promote strength as well as fuel weight loss. A study found vitamin D improved peak power after just four weeks of resistance training and helped reduce waist-to-hip ratio among overweight men after 12 weeks.
Popeye was right—spinach packs a wallop. Swedish scientists have found that nitrate, a compound abundant in spinach, can build and tone muscle. Spinach also is a great source of folic acid, which repairs DNA and helps to produce new red blood cells, and is rich in magnesium, which is needed to maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Always choose raw spinach; cooked spinach loses some of its nutrients.
The ideal beverage to boost mass and aid with recovery. Milk contains two casein and why proteins, which when combined can increase the muscle protein synthesis needed to promote muscle growth. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking post-workout milk produced more lean muscle mass than either soy protein or carbohydrates.
You need a near equal balance of protein and carbs after workouts to support recovery, and hummus (made from chickpeas) delivers, says Ricci. “The combination of protein and carbs in hummus may be particularly beneficial for slow steady carbohydrates release into bloodstream, which is really good to consume for a window of about two hours and more before training and two hours or more post training,” he says. Spread it over whole-grain pita for a quick low-release energy.