Monday, 4 March 2013

Week 10 Nutrition Habit: Adding Even More Veggies

As I think and plan out the upcoming nutrition habits for this 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series, I keep coming back to the same thing - if you don't have the basics down, then nothing else matters. Too many people are jumping into advanced nutrition concepts and unsustainable diets before they are consistently applying basic nutritional habits on a daily basis. Therefore, in week 10 and before we get to the cooler stuff, let's take another look at vegetables.





If you have been following this series, you will recall that week 3's nutrition habit was adding veggies. If you have not read it, please click HERE to learn and review the important health, performance and body composition benefits of eating more veggies. Trust me, eating more vegetables will help you get to your goal. 

Eating for fat loss or staying lean
Veggies and lean proteins should be the staples in anyone's nutrition program who is trying to get lean. They will help fill you up and provide need nutrients without a lot of extra calories. Remember nutrient dense and calorie sparse = the perfect food for fat loss.

Eating for muscle gain and high performance
With muscle gain & performance goals, people are often focused on total calories, protein, fat and carbs. These are important, but remember, low veggies makes your body fight hard to maintain pH and this can weaken bones and muscles (click HERE for more info). Also, higher higher levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals help you stay healthy and recover faster so you can train harder! So get you calories, protein, fat and carbs, but don't forget the vegetables. 

Now, a common objection to eating vegetables with muscle and performance goals is you feel like you cannot stuff any more food into you. This is where the type of vegetable comes into play. For these goals, gnawing away on celery sticks is not going to work or help. However, lightly steam a large handful of spinach (which shrinks down to almost nothing) or slip some into a Power Shake and you can easily add that in without taking up the room in your stomach you need for protein and carbs. 

But what about the pro bodybuilders who don't eat any vegetables?
Yes, I know there are bodybuilders who look amazing and don't eat any vegetables. Just remember 2 things: one - they are on a lot of drugs and hormones so keeping natural hormone levels where they should be is not a big deal and two - they are not healthy.

The Application:
This week your new habit is to add one additional serving of vegetables to your current vegetable intake. If you have any meals were you are not consuming vegetables, then add something to that meal. If you are eating vegetables at each meal (I'm very proud of you!) add one more serving to one of your meals or snacks.

To inspire you, here is one of my favorite veggie dishes:

Andrew's Anti-Cancer Superbomb Mock Stir Fry
Many people are into the raw food thing. I think it is great to eat raw foods and you should eat raw veggies,  but it is unnecessary and even disadvantageous to eat only raw foods. When it comes to certain veggies, cooking can actually help release nutrients. For example cooking tomatoes helps release the antioxidant lycopene (reduces your risk of prostate cancer) and cooking spinach helps release iron. Also, some individuals don't seem to tolerate certain vegetables as well when they are raw. For example, give me raw broccoli and I feel awful  but steam it and I can eat it by the cupful!

This recipe is called a mock stir fry because you steam it and then fix it up to make it taste more like a stir fry. Now, I'm not against stir fries and I do have them occasionally, but I prefer this method because it is healthier and faster!

Get pot and add 3-4 centimeters of water (just over an inch for my American readers). Add a steamer to the pot. Then, load it up with as many different vegetables as you can. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Broccoli
  • Zuccinni
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Red cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Chopped Kale or spinach

Steam until the veggies are soft by not pulverized. If they turn to mush or go pale you over-did it, if they are a nice bright color still, you are on track. Then pour some extra virgin olive oil over it and season with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and whatever other spices or spice blends you like - experiment here until you find what you like the best. Enjoy!


Now that you have upped your veggies even more, join me next week as we look at protein...

Here are the links to the previous 2013 weekly habits in case you missed them:
Week 1: Kitchen Cleanout (at the end of the introduction to this series)

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