Thinking of getting into shape for the summer but fighting a losing battle with the bulge, unable to resist the taste of those fatty, sugar-filled foods that you know you should be avoiding?
Well here is a list of some tasty alternatives to those fat fuelled burger meals and high calories carb loaded snack fests.
It can be a thin line between getting the correct nutrition that you need to build and tone muscle and overeating.
Sculpting the perfect body requires exercise but the nutritional aspect of training is often misunderstood or even ignored by many would-be beach bodies.
So, before you hit the gym and start running treadmill marathons take a look at this top 10 muscle building fat burning calorie crunchers.
The key to burning fat and building muscle while ensuring your body gets all the nutrients and calories it needs to produce energy is to keep the proper balance between protein and carbohydrates.
For those wishing to bulk up it is usually best to keep the carb count higher than protein, while for the rest of us who need to shed a few pounds to get in shape for the beach would be better increasing our protein intake and reducing our carb intake.
The following 5 foods are ideal for doing this.
Chicken is a high source of natural protein.
Chicken is a staple of almost every body builder’s diet because it is low in fat while extremely high in protein.
Chicken becomes even less fattening when it is boiled and any excess fat on it (from the water) is washed off.
A standard piece of chicken is composed of about 23% protein.
One piece of chicken breast is usually enough to give you the recommended 20g of protein with each meal.
For best results boil the chicken although this may impair the taste somewhat.
Grilled chicken breast is perfectly acceptable.
Serve with roast or steamed vegetables or salad and some ‘good’ carbohydrates like wholegrain rice. Turkey, and other poultry (except duck as it is often fattening) can be used a substitute for chicken.
Tuna is extremely low in fat as long as you buy it either fresh or tinned in spring water or brine.
Do not buy tinned tuna in sunflower oil as the oil will greatly increase the fat content. Always check the label.
Tuna, like most white oily-fish such as mackerel, cod, haddock and sardines are an excellent source of protein and health enhancing vitamins and nutrients.
Tuna and other fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have amazing health benefits as well as stimulating the release of the hormone leptin.
Anyone interested in nutrition and weight loss will recognise leptin as an important hormone in appetite suppression and for increasing metabolism thus helping the burning of excess calories and fat stores.
Although meat is arguably the best source of protein for muscle building there are alternatives.
Tofu is a great source of soy protein that can be just as effective for training purposes without having the same fat content as red meat for example.
Tofu (and similar alternatives) is also low in calories an, like fish, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which also help us to burn fat.
Eggs are also a great alternative to meat for gaining your protein requirements.
The only thing you should be aware of while using eggs as a protein source is the risk of increasing your cholesterol levels.
However, this is something you should always be aware of and keep an eye on as meat and other food sources that derive from animals can greatly increase your cholesterol levels.
5. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seed are perfect for replacing crisp, potato chips and snack bars.
They are the ideal snacking food.
They are a great source of protein and being packed with fibre and the type of good fats the body needs they help to keep you feel full longer.
As well as staving off hunger nuts and seeds kick start the fat burning process in the body that targets fat reserves rather than other snack type foods that encourage the breaking down of muscle for energy.
As a rule of thumb any type of natural nuts and seeds are a great healthy alternative to snack foods. However, you are probably best avoiding the roasted or salted variety as they are usually very high in fat. Check the label.