Your favorite sports stadium or arena wasn’t built from scraps. Its developers made sure they established a strong, stable foundation before construction began. And they did not use materials of inferior quality, which could have weakened the structure.
Your body is like that stadium. You need a strong foundation of good nutrition and quality foods and beverages to develop muscle and sustain performance.
It all starts with a good base or “foundation.” Consuming natural foods and beverages ensures healthy muscles, bones, tendons and joints. This is how you minimize injuries on the field, mat, court or ice. No “groundbreaking” magical performance enhancing potions or supplements are necessary. Avoid artificial, unhealthy, overly processed foods and beverages. They weaken joints, tissue and muscle and spur inflammation. “Real” foods and beverages such as eggs, milk, and water, fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are your primary muscle-building “materials.”
Boost your chances of playing in one of those multi-level stadiums or arenas with three “tiers” of foods and beverages that will help you increase size and strength for your sport. (See also Foods That Help Athletes On And Off The Field.)
First Tier: Eggs, Milk and Water
Eggs and plain milk (and chocolate milk) have the highest biological protein value. This simply means they contain all amino acids needed for muscle growth and repair. So include them regularly in your dietary program. Bodybuilders rely on milk to gain weight and pack on muscle, typically drinking a gallon a day. Nowadays, chocolate milk is an ideal post-workout beverage, with a high carbohydrate and moderate protein ratio to replenish glycogen used during intense weight training. Muscles are 75 percent water, and water is a major muscle-building beverage for transporting nutrients. Water intake also makes muscles appear fuller. (See Foods That Hydrate Your Body.)
Second Tier: Fish, Meat and Poultry
Though ranked lower in biological protein value than eggs and milk, fish, meat and poultry have plentiful amino acids for muscle growth and recovery between workouts. Fish such as salmon and tuna also have beneficial anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce muscle soreness following exercise and sports.
Third Tier: Nuts, Seeds, Beans, Popcorn, Dark Chocolate, Fruits, Vegetables, Olive Oil, Whole Grains, Black and Green Tea
Nuts, seeds and beans have incomplete amino acids but become complete protein when paired with whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal or whole wheat bread. Nuts, seeds, beans, popcorn, dark chocolate, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and black and green tea all contain anti-inflammatory antioxidant compounds for aiding muscle recovery, so you are stronger for your next workout. Nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, brown rice, popcorn, whole wheat, oatmeal, and fruit such as raisins contain the muscle-building amino acid arginine. Fruit and nuts provide an excellent energizing pre-workout meal to help you sustain a high intensity weight training session and promote muscle growth.