Building muscle, shedding body fat, enhancing athletic performance are all by-products of optimum health. Optimum health can only be achieved through an optimum approach to nutrition.

To create and maintain optimal health requires a spectrum of nutrients from a variety of nutritional sources. Most bodybuilders tend to eat a restricted variety of foods – their choices revolve around chicken breasts, white rice and green beans. If you are one of these individuals, then you may be short-circuiting your own progress.

Others look for one fix-all nutrient, pill, or supplement to solve their nutritional problems. Don’t be one of these people. Instead, educate yourself, become a student of good nutrition – much better results from training and supplementation will be your reward.

Building a premium body involves prudent nutritional supplementation. However, as cutting edge as supplements have become, they should simply supplement the nutrition from whole-foods. All the research strongly suggests, the better the quality of your whole-foods, the greater the effects you will obtain from your supplements.

One super category that can make a world of difference to your physique are unprocessed, plant foods. The term “plant food” encompasses all things that grow from the ground. That means fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.  The less processed (packaged) the food is, the better it is, the more ‘in sync’ it is with our biology.

Nutritional science is only just starting to uncover an array of powerful, yet little-known compounds contained in unprocessed plant foods. These compounds, called phytochemicals, occur naturally and they play an intricate role in energy production, fat metabolism and reduction of oxidative stress that damages cells and promotes aging.

To get in shape, don’t cut calories, change them!

In their quest to get lean fast, bodybuilders get impatient and start cutting calories before they’ve address the fundamentals; how many meals they need every day, exactly what needs to be those meals at various times of the day, and how to ensure the right choices are available at the right time.

The dumb strategy of senselessly cutting calories actually kills the metabolic environment required to achieve physique goals, and any fat loss is temporary. On the other hand, a high intake of plant foods every meal basically, “tricks” the metabolism into staying elevated and promotes the permanent loss of unwanted body fat. This is called working with your metabolism, not against it. For best results, before you go cutting calories, start making better food choices.

Dining by Color

When in doubt about selection, go for color. The brighter and richer the color, the more nutritious the plant food is. For example, vegetables with the highest nutritional value are vivid in color; dark green spinach, rich red tomatoes and bright yellow/ orange squash, pumpkin and sweet potato.

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Additionally, the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower contain phytochemicals that protect our DNA against damage that can develop into poor health and disease. Before each meal, look at your plate and determine how colorful it is.

Red Group: Fruits and vegetables from the red group contain the phytonutrient lycopene. Eating a variety from the red group helps strengthen heart and lung tissue and prevent disease in these organs. Sources include, all type of tomatoes, peppers, pink grapefruit, watermelon.

Red/Purple Group: The red/purple group contains anthocyanins, which protect against arteriosclerosis (plague build up on artery walls) and heart disease. They also enhance cognitive  processes and memory capacity as well as provide a protective effect on brain cells against oxidative stress. Sources include berries, pomegranates, blueberries, prunes, cherries, red cabbage, plums, red grapes, red apples.

Orange Group: The orange group, provides alpha and beta carotene that are converted into vitamin A or retinol (the active form of vitamin A) in the body. These substances protect against cancer and maintain eye health. Sources include apricots, carrots, acorn, mangoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and yams

Orange/Yellow Group: The orange/yellow group provides us with beta cryptothanxin, which optimizes cardio vascular health. Sources include clementine, pineapple, mandarin ,oranges, nectarines, Papaya, tangerines, peaches, tangelos.

Yellow/Green Group: The yellow/green group contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which concentrate in the eye. These phytonutrients may help prevent age-related macular degeneration. As their concentration falls, so does quality of vision. Sources include collard greens, Kiwi fruit, green & yellow peppers, spinach, green beans, turnips, kale, yellow corn.

Green Group: The green group is rich in indoles, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanate, which speed the action of enzymes that break down toxins and carcinogens. Sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, kale.

White/Green Group: Plants in this group contain allicin, a free radical scavenger that appears to work effectively at reducing exercise-induced oxidative stress which promotes better recovery after workouts. Sources include asparagus, mushrooms, celery, onions, chives, pears, garlic, scallions and leeks.

The benefits are subtle but significant

These low-energy carb sources all promote steady blood sugar and insulin levels. This means no energy slump during the day, more efficient metabolism of fat and effective nutrient transport into hungry muscles. Incorporating more plant foods into your eating plan add up to one thing; a stronger, leaner, healthier body. From the research, there is one thing I am certain of—the more you strive for a holistic approach to your nutritional intake and incorporate a variety of nutritious whole foods into your eating plan, the more powerful the effects of exercise training and supplementation become.


Am J Clin Nutr. 2009, Nutr Rev. 2008., Br J Nutr. 2008., Eur J Nutr. 2008.

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Dine by color – it’s the fastest way to a lean, mean physique

by Paul Cribb Ph.D. CSCS. time to read: 5 min