5 Superfoods & Food Alternatives for HIGH-Level Performance
A couple months ago, I revealed my “Supplement Pyramid”. Since then, emails regarding supplements have flooded my inbox. Because of this, I’ve decided to get real FOOD back on everyone’s mind! After all, FOOD is the true foundation with regards to fueling an athlete’s body. Just like you would fill an expensive sports car with the highest quality gasoline; you must fill your body with the highest quality nutrients!
Although there are tons of healthy food choices, I’ve decided to provide my readers with 5 “Superfoods” that I feel should make up the foundation of everyone’s diet. Here you go…
Blueberries did not make this list just because they are New Jersey’s state fruit 🙂 They are a true ‘superfood’ in that they are chock full of antioxidants and phytoflavinoids that can help lower LDL cholesterol and boost your immune system. They are also high in potassium, vitamins A & C, and fiber. They have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which is super-important for preventing disease, as well as recovering from strenuous activities.
*If you are going to buy frozen blueberries to add to your protein shake, make sure you only buy the brands in which “blueberries” are the only ingredient listed. DON’T buy the frozen blueberries that contain added sugars and/or syrup!
Sweet potatos are a nutritional all-star; they are literally one of the best vegetables you can eat…and they taste great (without having to “mask” them with sugar-filled condiments or fatty dips). Sweet potatos are loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. I also notice that my muscles feel “fuller”, without the bloat, when I eat a lot of potatos. This is far superior to the water retention and “bloat” I feel when I eat too much wheats, grains, etc. Make sweet potatos a staple in your diet! Period.
When it comes to protein — chicken breast, steak, tuna and protein powders are the most common choices amongst athletes and bodybuilders. But the true “super-protein” is salmon! I know it’s a little more “pricey” than most protein sources, but in my opinion, you can’t put a price on your health and/or performance! Eating this Omega 3-rich fish just 2-3X per week will help lower your cholesterol, decrease your risk of heart disease and even improve brain function/mood! Salmon is also anti-inflammatory (as opposed to the inflammatory properties of red meat) and can help with arthritis pain, as well as help prevent disease.
I know, I know – who the hell wants to eat friggin’ broccoli?! Well, if you’re serious about your health and performing at a high level, you have to increase your intake of greens! Broccoli, along with other greens, makes your blood more alkaline; this is of utmost importance for decreasing inflammation in your body, as well as improving your cardiovascular health. (This is why guys like Randy Cotoure and other smart, high-level MMA fighters incorporate so many greens in their diets. It is almost impossible to reach peak physical condition for a sport like MMA if your blood is too acidic from eating too much red meat, dairy, processed sugars, etc.)
Besides being “alkaline” and “anti-inflammatory”, broccoli contains a solid dose of vitamin C, carotenoids, folic acid and calcium! Personally, I always hated eating broccoli, but I started drizzling a little olive oil on it, along with a dash of sea salt and red pepper and now I actually enjoy it! I’ve also noticed a huge difference in my “cardio” since I’ve increased my daily intake of greens. Give it a try and feel the difference!
I felt bad about making you eat your broccoli, so I decided to give you a treat! But rest assurred, this isn’t just a “sympathy” choice – dark chocolate is a legitimate superfood! Did you know that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and can lower your blood pressure?! Next time you have a “sweet tooth” – don’t feel guilty – grab some dark chocolate…it’s actually beneficial! Look for dark chocolate with 60% or higher cocoa content…and the darker the chocolate, the better! (The darker the chocolate, the lower the fat and sugar content.)
Eat this, NOT that!
To conclude this blog post, I wanted to provide my readers with 5 ‘SUPER ALTERNATIVES’ to common foods. Making these small changes will end up making a BIG difference in how you look and feel over the long run!
Replace your milk with Rice Milk or Almond Milk!
We’ve been brain-washed into thinking “milk does a body good”. Well, it’s 2010 and we now know that milk doesn’t do a body that good! Milk increases estrogen and inflammation in the body…and over 90% of my athletes that have been tested for food allergies were allergic to milk! Personally, I cut out milk a year ago and ironically this was the first year I didn’t get bronchitis in my entire lifetime! Switching over to rice and almond milk has had a major impact on my health – and to be honest – I now enjoy both beverages…especially when added to protein shakes! Make this switch and reap the benefits!
Replace your peanut butter with Almond Butter!
Everyone talks about peanut butter being a “good” fat and overall healthy food. Well, they are partially right; although there isn’t a lot of saturated fat in most peanut butters, the problem is the added sugar! Most peanut butters are loaded with sugar and other “filler” ingredients to make it taste good. The “low fat” peanut butters are usually worse for you because they add even more sugar to replace the fat that was removed! So what’s a “peanut butter lover” to do…buy all-natural Almond Butter! Truth be told, I used to hate “all-natural” peanut butter’s because they were a mess! The oil would separate and spill all over the place when you opened the jar. Well now many all-natural brands have “no stir” alternatives which make eating this healthy peanut butter much more enjoyable!
I prefer almond butter because almonds contain more calcium than any other nut (which makes it a great choice for people who cut dairy out of their diets, as well as vegetarians.) Almonds are also a great source of monounsaturated fat (which is great for your heart), vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and fiber!
Replace your eggs with organic Omega-3 Eggs!
Eggs, in general, have gotten an (unfair) bad rap…mainly from studies conducted by General Mills – a cereal company – (Hmmm, I wonder if they had an agenda when conducting their “studies”?? Scare people away from eggs so they eat more cereal for breakfast?? Just sayin’…) Anyway, back to eggs…
One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids! But, to be honest, I don’t trust what many farmers feed their chickens so I switched to eating organic eggs exclusively at this point in my life. And to add some “insurance” to my organic eggs, I now buy Omega-3 eggs. Because eggs do contain some cholesterol, I feel better eating eggs that are rich in Omega-3 fats because these types of fats reduce cholesterol, while still providing me with the quality protein and amino acid profile. They also taste exactly the same, if not better, than “regular” eggs. Make the switch and improve your health today!
Replace your “Low Calorie” cooking spray with Organic Coconut Oil!
First of all, “low calorie” or “0 calorie” cooking spray is BULLSHIT!!! It’s friggin’ OIL…and oil contains calories! So how do they get away with these claims, you ask? Next time you goto the supermarket, look at the ‘serving size’ of your favorite cooking spray…it’s usually 1/4 of a second spray per serving! Who the hell sprays their pan for 1/4 of a second?! The answer is, “No one!” Thinking that the cooking spray is “low calorie”, most people spray the hell out of the spray until their frying pan is nice and lathered up! Well, if you’re going to lather up your pan with oil, you may as well use one of the most unique, healthiest oils on the planet – cocunut oil!
Coconut oil is great for “greasing” your pan because it’s very “fatty” so your food will never stick…and it tastes great! But don’t let this oil, which is high in saturated fat, fool you; although coconut oil is primarily saturated fat, most of the fatty acids are from Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s). MCT oil is easily digested and absorbed by the body and results in many physical and health benefits including: increased energy, decreased inflammation, balances out blood sugar levels, increased immunity, aids in proper digestion & metabolism, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol…and it’s even great for your hair and skin! As you can see, the health benefits of coconut oil are endless…not to mention, you will never burn an omelet when you cook with it 🙂 There’s no reason not to make the switch!
Replace your candy bar with Focus Food!
Ok, Ok, I know this looks like a cheap plug for Focus Food, but hear me out…
I initially created my “DeFranco Energy Bar” to fill a void in the supplement industry for athletes. The bar was created as a pre-workout snack to improve mental focus, strength and performance. Then, I teamed up with GI Nutrition and upgraded the bar…it’s now All-Natural and “healthier” than my original version, yet it tastes better! This thing literally tastes like a candy bar! Over the past couple of weeks, something very interesting started happening — non-athletes, “average Joe’s”, housewives and businessmen, all started emailing us and telling us how much they love the taste of the bar, as well as the energy it gives them! Students have told us they ate the bar before taking their SAT’s; housewives eat the bar to make cleaning and doing the laundry more “enjoyable”; businessmen eat the bar before big meetings, etc. I can go on and on with different examples, but my point is that “regular” people have replaced their mid-day snacks, candy bars and sugar-filled coffees with Focus Food. This hasn’t only helped them be more productive; they are all healthier because of the switch!
Replace your candy bar with Focus Food and satisfy your “sweet tooth” with this great-teasting, all-natural alternative! It’s a no-brainer!
Don’t use the Holiday season as an excuse to be fat and ugly…start incorporating these foods and ideas into your daily routine NOW!
Let me know what you thought of this blog post by dropping a comment below!