Choosing the Proper foods for you- Jim Stoppani PhD

May 04, 2011
Choosing the Proper foods for you- Jim Stoppani PhD

See what Jim Stoppani has to say about what foods you should be consuming and the benefits that each provide

I am a big believer in the power of supplements for helping to build muscle, drop body fat, increase strength and performance, boost energy and enhance your overall health.

But supplements only work well when your diet is complete with proper whole-food choices, such as lean proteins from poultry, fish, beef, eggs and dairy, whole grains, vegetables and fruit. In addition to macronutrients like protein, carbs and fats,as well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, many foods also contain significant amounts of other micronutrients that are often sold in supplemental form. Here’s 10 such foods you should consider adding to your daily diet. These power foods will help you better achieve your goals.




Avocadoes not only provide healthy monounsaturated fats, but they have multiple benefits for fat loss. Avocadoes have the ability to enhance the production of thyroid hormones. This helps you to maintain your metabolic rate, which can be critical when you’re trying to drop calories. Avocado also contains a sugar called mannoheptulose. Although it’s a sugar, it actually has been shown to inhibit insulin secretion, which helps to prevent fat storage.


Shoot for 1/2 to 1 full avocado per day for a healthy food choice that will help you drop body fat. (Don’t forget to cut calories from simple and starchy carbs to stay in a calorie deficit when trying to strip off body fat.)



Beer may not seem like much of a power food, but it can actually boost your health and actually aid fat loss, as well as help prevent cancer and heart disease. Research has found that 1 or 2 drinks of alcohol per day raise leptin levels, which helps to control hunger and keep metabolism up. A component of the hops — known as isohumulones — decreases body fat and helps prevent inflammation, which can aid muscle and joint recovery. New research suggests even more benefits to drinking beer. In a recent study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, scientists measured silicon levels in a variety of beers. They found that most beer varieties are rich sources of silicon, likely as a result of both the hops and the grain that was used in brewing (with barley-based beers being significantly higher in silicon). Silicon is a mineral that’s important to bone and joint health, making beer a potential player in keeping your body healthy enough to keep lifting for a long time. Another benefit of beer comes with grilling meats. Research shows that meats marinated in beer-based marinade actually from 90% less heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are carcinogenic chemicals that form when the amino acids and creatine in meats react at high cooking temperatures, such as during


Try to keep your beer drinking to a few per week. Drinking no more than one or two at a time is best. Dark beer is best as research has significantly more antioxidants than lighter beers.



Beets are a good source of betaine, also known as trimethylglycine. This nutrient not only enhances liver and joint repair, but also has been shown in clinical research to increase muscle strength and power. Beets have recently been found to increase the diameter of blood vessels by boosting nitric oxide (NO) levels. That’s because beets provide a rich source of nitrates. Nitrates are nitrogen-containing compounds that contribute to the production of NO. Nitrate in beets is converted by bacteria living on the tongue into the chemical nitrite. After nitrite is digested it becomes NO. This molecule relaxes the muscles in blood vessels, widening them, which allows more blood to flow through them. This greater blood flow means that muscles get more blood along with more nutrients like amino acids and glucose, as well as oxygen, which can enhance energy and aid recovery.


Try adding some beetroot juice to your preworkout protein shakes. Each cup provides about 100 calories, 24 g of carbs, 2 grams of protein and no fat.





Blueberries pack a mighty antioxidant wallop; research from Tufts University shows that the blueberry ranked the highest of the 60 fruits and vegetables analyzed in the ability to destroy free radicals. The reason blueberries are superior is because they have the highest anthocyanidin content of all fruits, giving blueberries their dark color. These powerful antioxidant phytochemicals not only zap free radicals but they also act like smart pills for your brain. Blueberries have been shown to enhance memory, help rejuvenate brain cells, and prevent dementia. In a new study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, scientists took muscle tissue that had suffered oxidative stress (similar to what happens to muscles during workouts) and added various fruit extracts. They found that the blueberry extract worked the best to alleviate damage to the muscle tissue.


A cup of blueberries has about 150 mg of anthocyanidins, 80 calories, and 20 grams of total carbs. Eat blueberries about 1-2 hours before workouts, but not with whey, casein or milk and dairy products (which have been shown to blunt the uptake of the fruit’s antioxidants), for better energy during the workout and better muscle recovery when the workout is over.




Broccoli is known for it’s ability to fight cancer. That’s thanks to a little chemical called sulforaphane. This is an antioxidant that forms from the inactive compound glucoraphanin when you chew your broccoli. But broccoli also contains a phytochemical known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C), that gets converted in the body to 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM reduces the strength of estrogens by converting them to weaker varieties in the liver. This diminishes estrogen’s effects on fat gain and water retention, and strengthens testosterone’s anabolic effects.


Shoot for about 1 cup or more of raw or steamed broccoli per day to deliver over 100 mg of I3C, 1200 – 4000 mcg of sulforaphane, more than 80 mg of vitamin C and over 40 mg of calcium.




Cherries have been used to fight inflammatory conditions, arthritis and gout for example, for many years. The inflammation-fighting ingredients in cherries are antioxidant phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Inflammation can be a problem after workouts because it can actually work against the process of muscle recovery. Research shows that cherry juice can dampen delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and expedite muscle recovery following intense weight lifting. Use whole cherries or cherry juice to help reduce inflammation and promote muscle recovery following workouts.


One to two cups of whole cherries are a good energy source before workouts and two to three ounces of concentrated cherry juice is a good carb source after workouts. Supplements that also blunt DOMS and enhance recovery include protease enzymes.




The hot part in hot peppers such as chili peppers is a plant chemical called capsaicin. Research studies show that it enhances the amount of calories burned, as well as fat burning and can decrease appetite when eaten prior to meals. The hotter the pepper, the higher the capsaicin levels.


Add about one-quarter teaspoon of ground chili peppers, red peppers or cayenne peppers to one or two meals each day or try eating the whole pepper if you can stand the heat.




Chocolate offers numerous health benefits due to the fact that cocoa is rich in antioxidants and components that could benefit cardiovascular health. Numerous research studies show that cocoa, much like beets, boosts nitric oxide (NO) levels. But chocolate does so thanks to a flavanol called epicathecin.


Add about 400–500 mg cocoa extract, 1/4 cup cocoa powder or 1 packet of hot cocoa mix (choose a sugarfree variety) to your pre-workout shake 30 to 45 minutes before your workouts. Or if you have chocolate as a treat, look for dark chocolates with at least 60% cacao.



Coffee contains the central nervous stimulant, caffeine, which is the primary reason most people drink it. But coffee also offers numerous health benefits. Recent research shows that moderate coffee drinking (about 3 cups a day) may decrease the risk of diabetes, liver disease, and even gallstones. And I bet you did not know that it’s a source of antioxidants. In fact, one study reported that many Americans get about 1300 mg of antioxidants per day from coffee. The caffeine in coffee can also help you use more fat for energy when you exercise and research shows that it helps to blunt muscle pain during exercise, allowing you to train harder for longer. One study even found that caffeine helped to boost muscle strength.


A regular (8 oz.) cup of brewed coffee has about 100-200 mg of caffeine, and about 250-500 mg of antioxidants, depending on the bean and the roasting time. Go with about 1-4 cups per day.




Garlic, a cousin to the onion, is rich in allicin, diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulfide and other sulfur-containing compounds that provide the numerous health benefits that garlic imparts, such as fighting cancer, heart disease, and even the common cold. Less known by the mass media is garlic’s ability to stimulate testosterone production and inhibit cortisol production. Before workouts garlic can help to boost testosterone when you need it most and blunt the cortisol response that normally accompanies exercise and limits testosterone’s anabolic effects. But that’s not all. Garlic can also help to increase fat burning and even enhance muscle recovery.


Try a few cloves (raw) of garlic each day added to meals or eaten plain.


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