Having a healthy diet is one of the most impactful things you can do for your fitness.
Other than time spent in the gym, a healthy diet is the best way to promote your overall health and muscular conditioning. Supplements can be deceiving and many packaged foods at the supermarket are loaded with artificial colors and ingredients that can make you feel bloated and sluggish.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to get started with clean, healthy eating that promotes fitness, look no further. Here’s a quick grocery list of 10 foods to help get you started with shopping and eating clean like a professional bodybuilder.
10. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach, are extremely nutrient-rich and low in calories. They act as a great supplement or base to a heartier plate of chicken or fish. These are probably the best natural source of things like vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, fiber, vitamin K, folic acid, and so many others. It cannot be overstated what an essential source of nutrients these are in your diet.
Recommendation: Keep a bag of kale or a bag of broccoli in the fridge at all times. The kale makes a great base for a salad, while the broccoli works great in a veggie stir fry. Or switch it up based on what you like!
Eggs are a versatile, protein-rich food that can be incorporated into almost any meal you could think to make — so use them! Eggs are a bodybuilder’s staple for good reason. They pack a huge punch in terms of protein (which allows your body to build muscle) without having too many calories. They’re also a great option if you’re trying to avoid an unhealthy breakfast. Eggs are completely natural — no saturated fats or unhealthy additives to slow you down.
Recommendation: Keep a carton of eggs in the fridge. You can have them for breakfast or add them to a shake for a quick protein boost.
8. Wild-Caught Fish (Salmon, Cod, Tuna)
Fish are an essential source of omega-3 fatty acids and a core component of any pro’s diet. Fish that is caught in the wild tends to have the highest amount of omega-3s, so aim for that if possible. Salmon has a higher fat content than other types of fish and can help you feel fuller for longer, potentially staving off cravings.
Recommendation: Keep salmon, cod, or tuna in the fridge and have once a week. You can bake or pan-sear as an entree, have it over rice, or put it in a salad.
7. Quinoa or Brown Rice
These grains (okay, quinoa isn’t technically a grain) make a great healthy base for a meal. They’re high in amino acids, which are essential for building muscle. If you like both, great, if not, you can easily substitute one for the other. These are also a versatile “building-block” type food like eggs that can easily be combined with other healthy foods for clean, healthy eating.
Recommendation: Keep a bag of quinoa or brown rice in your pantry. You can have chicken or fish over rice or put the rice into a salad with leafy greens — the possibilities are endless.
Chicken is another bodybuilding essential. It has an astronomical protein-level for something with a comparatively low amount of fat. Again, the key here is to pick foods that can help you avoid the additives, oils, and unhealthy fats associated with processed foods. Cooking your own chicken at home with vegetables, lentils, quinoa, or brown rice is a filling, protein-rich meal.
Recommendation: Keep chicken in your fridge to have for dinner throughout the week. Combine with brown rice, collard greens, quinoa, or broccoli for a healthy dinner.
5. Dry Beans and Peas
Things like black beans, pinto beans, split peas, and lentils are all great additions to a bodybuilder’s diet. They’re easy to combine with a healthy source of protein like fish or chicken to create a meal. They’re also rich in iron and zinc which can increase joint strength.
Recommendation: Keep two bags of your favorite type of beans or peas in the pantry. They make a healthy, filling side in any meal that will keep you from snacking on unhealthier foods.
4. Greek Yogurt
An essential snack food for when you’re in-between meals, Greek yogurt is a healthy and filling option that promotes gut health and the absorption of other nutrients and minerals. Not to mention Greek yogurt is an essential source of protein.
Recommendation: Keep a pack of your favorite Greek yogurt in the fridge for snacking. You can add honey or some walnuts to add flavor and texture.
3. Olive Oil, Avocado Oil (Oils > Butter)
Try to avoid butter, which is high in saturated fats. Opt instead for cooking with olive oil, avocado oil, or another type of cooking oil.
Recommendation: Keep your favorite type of cooking oil in the pantry instead of using butter to reduce saturated fat consumption.
There are a lot of different categories of fruit, but pretty much all of them are great for you. Apples, bananas, pears, and berries are high in natural sugars but ultimately much better for you than any artificially sweetened snack.
Recommendation: Keep one or two types of your favorite fruits in the kitchen to snack on, use in a salad, or make a smoothie.
1. Whey Protein
Probably the most popular protein additive in the bodybuilding world. Whey is clinically proven to increase gains and help the body develop muscle mass faster.
Recommendation: Keep whey protein in the kitchen. You can add it to tea, water, or as part of a healthy smoothie.