Let's say you are someone who trains in the gym one to two hours a day somewhere between three to five days a week. Let's say your purpose for doing this is to build muscle and to lose fat, whether you are trying to be a bodybuilder or you’re going for the toned long lean body. If one to two hours a few days a week is where you’re at, that would still leave you with lots and lots of hours where you are not working out, so that means that your muscles are going to rely heavily on what you do or do not put in your mouth. Muscle nutrition can also be applied to fat loss as well. Here are seven strategies intended to help you maximize your muscle to fat ratio:

1. Stay with real foods.
How do you know if it’s real food? It should only have one ingredient in it. How many ingredients does broccoli have in it? One. That is a real food. Fill your grocery cart with foods like lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, which contain nutrients that your muscles crave. Plus they supply a steadier release of amino acids and glucose than “fake food” that is packaged and found in the middle of the aisles of your local grocery store. Make protein the starting point for each meal and snack, then surround it with a supporting cast of carbs and healthy fat, it’s that simple.

2. Cook at home                                                                           You do not need to prepare every meal with a calculator or a food scale.  I’ve never weighed my food in my life. I don’t even own a food scale. Any diet that requires more than basic measuring of ingredients is a diet that is too complicated and will ultimately fail. I never even use a recipe book, I create my own meals out of what nutrients my body is feeling a need for at the time. That also may depend on how intense my workout was that day.

3. Eat some fatty fish.
Show your muscles some love by treating them to some fatty fish such as mackerel, rainbow trout, salmon and sardines. Fish is excellent post workout food because the protein digests quicker than beef, poultry and pork. Fatty fish is abundant in omega-3’s, which reduce inflammation, are good for the heart, arteries, skin, hair and muscles. I highly recommend you eat some three to four times per week. Fatty fish also contains a high amount of vitamin D, which improves muscle function and strength. Low vitamin D levels are linked to low hormone levels, which can lead to fat gain.

4. Try different colors.
Your diet should consist of a variety of colors from fruits and vegetables to ensure a wide range of antioxidants, which help in muscle recovery and promote growth. Research studies show that a diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables prevents cell DNA damage, which can cause slower hypertrophy (increased size in muscle) and initiate disease. Next time you go grocery shopping, include these foods: broccoli, carrots, cherries, kale, blueberries, kiwi and red bell peppers. These are some of the highest anti-oxidant rich foods in the produce section.

5. Got game?
Find yourself some game meat like bison, elk, ostrich and venison, which have been in the top quality muscle-building foods for a long time. They have a superior protein-to-fat ratio that results in lean muscle mass and they are mostly grass-fed with plenty of room to roam. Unfortunately our stores are now filled with industry-raised cattle that lack the same quality “beef” as game meat contains. Look for farmer markets that carry grass-fed beef. Do not eat anything raised on a big corporation feed lot! For that matter do not eat chicken or eggs raised from big company-contracted chicken houses either. If you need to know why, I highly recommend viewing the movie called Food Inc.

6. Become friends with your local organic farmer.
A lot of local farms are the best place to stock your fridge with muscle building power foods such as eggs, meats and vegetables that have not been abused by pesticides and hormones. You can often get better deals buying locally, which means you can eat good on the cheap.

7. Eat two breakfasts.
That is what I do. Because I am a trainer I have to get up early anyway. I'll get up before 6am; slam a bowl of oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal, 2 tablespoons of vanilla protein powder and a handful of fresh blueberries. I train my first clients, and then stop home for another breakfast about one to two hours later. That might consist of one soft boiled egg on a slice of sprouted grain Ezekiel bread or a protein shake with a banana and some almond butter, flaxseeds, more protein powder and almond milk. Then I'm off again. I get my workout in sometime in the late morning and because I ate well prior to my workout, I have the sustained energy to get through an intense cardio and weight lifting session. I then eat again so I can move on energetically to my next client. I eat five to six times a day (on rest days too) even though I only workout one to two hours, five days a week.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not have it twice?

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