Proper eating starts with getting the right foods in your kitchen and the bad foods out. I treat my kitchen like a mini laboratory, a place that provides me with all the fuel I need to maintain hardcore intensity in life and training!

Below are my 13 essentials for fueling your muscle building journey.

1) Do your shopping on a full stomach.

Shopping when you are hungry leaves you more likely to purchase the quick fix foods high in sugar, fat and sodium. If you don’t believe me, try shopping first thing in the morning before breakfast and see how much junk makes it home!

2) Learn from those in the know.

Here is an extract from a local grocery store assistant I stumbled across;

‘As a veteran of supermarket employment, most of the time items sold end-of-day are reduced by as much as 50%. It is not to say these items are "bad" or "spoiled" but merely unfit to be sold the next day due to specific rules and/or laws. These items usually have a longer shelf life than actually noted; considered edible 3-5 days after sell by date. Also, when fresh items arrive, there is a need for shelf space, therefore, we reduce prices to push the products out.’

So basically, don’t be afraid to buy foods with huge reductions due to their use by date, they usually are considered edible 3-5 days past that date. I usually just buy and freeze immediately, then eat whenever I like.

3) The foods we want most of are found around the perimeter of the store.

Pretty common knowledge but thought I’d throw this in.

4) Know the leanness of your meats.

Meat is animal flesh and is most often the muscle. When you're selecting beef for example, choose cuts labelled "Choice" or "Select" instead of "Prime" — which usually has more fat.

Opt for cuts of meat with the least amount of visible fat (marbling). Even then, trim any visible fat before preparing the beef. When you're selecting ground beef, opt for the lowest percentage of fat.

5) Only eat ‘Whole Grains’ when eating grain foods.

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley and any other cereal food are known as grain foods. Some good examples are breads, tortillas, rice’s and pastas.

Grains come in whole grains and refined grains. Refined grains are the ones you should steer clear from, they have been milled, which means the ‘bran’ and ‘germ’ have been removed during processing, reducing their energy, vitamin and fibre contents. Most common refined grains are; white breads, white rice and white flour.

6) Vegetable fact to remember: Fresh is better than frozen, frozen is better than canned.

I personally have a 1:3 ratio of fresh to frozen foods. If you are time and money conscious, buying frozen can be a lifesaver. Frozen vegetables are snap frozen almost immediately once they are picked which seals in valuable vitamins and minerals until they are cooked. They are a very convenient option as they are often available with a variety of different types and can be stored for long periods of time.

Fresh vegetables are by far the cheapest option when bought in bulk from wholesale locations. They taste great, can be cooked in a variety of different ways though a downside is they only stay in a fresh state for around 3-4 days.

7) Don’t get confused by ‘sugar free’.

This refers to sucrose (general table sugar). There are many other varieties of sugar that might find their way into your foods; honey, sweeteners, corn syrup, maltose, lactose, fructose, dextrose and glucose.

8) The stronger the cheese the further it travels.

When selecting cheeses, as cheese is naturally high in fats, choose the stronger flavoured varieties, this will mean that you will not need to use such large portions for it to impact on your foods.

9) Fats to run away from.

Yes some fats high in omega 3’s and omega 6’s are healthy when eaten in moderation, but that doesn’t mean they all are! Some fats like trans fats (trans-isomer fatty acid) and hydrogenated oils are not essential and certainly do not promote good health.

10) Canned foods can be extremely high in sodium (salts) and preservatives.

Food isn’t sold in canned because it looks good! It’s sealed airtight and treated with preservatives to maintain its shelf life. Only buy canned or jarred foods when the shit hits the fan!

11) Avoid UFO’S!

Unidentified food object (foods with unpronounceable ingredients)

12) Buy 2 plain foods rather than one treated.

When buying many dairy products like milk, yogurts and shakes, instead of buying the pre-flavoured options which are likely to be high in sugars and fats, buy the plain item and then buy another natural food like your favourite fruit to add for extra flavour.

13) Choose your condiments (sauce, seasoning & relish) sensibly.

We all know that eating the same things day after day can get damn well boring, so adding a splash of soy sauce of sprinkle of garlic pepper on your steak can do the world for your standard plain Jane dish.

Just take care with your selections, and eat in moderation. Choosing condiments high in salt and sugar can turn a normally nutritious meal into a damaging one in no time.

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Author's Bio: 

Reuben Bajada is known around the world as an elite results based coach and trainer. He is a renowned strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports performance nutritionist who offers his time, knowledge and training advice to anybody ready to commit to both improving the way they look and perform.