What we choose to put into our bodies can directly impact how we feel physically and mentally. Food, at the end of the day, is fuel, so it makes sense to load up on the stuff that will nourish us, and moderate the food and drink that leaves us feeling sluggish.
If you’re looking for a diet that can help you shed some bad habits (like too many sugary snacks or XXL portions) as well as helping you shed some weight healthily and safely, we’ve lined up the best foods packed with the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to thrive. Consider them brain food, to improve metal clarity, but also, if you’re on a health-kick, they can help you to slim and sculpt your body.
Body sculpting is all about building lean muscle, burning excess fat sustainably and choosing a diet plan high in protein. The best way to achieve it is by combining these healthy ingredients with a regular cardio and resistance-training exercise programme.
To help you along, we’ve put together the best at-home workouts to get fit in the front room, the best at-home gym equipment from running machines to resistance bands, and a leading personal trainers top tips for staying motivated during winter whatever the weather.
Remember, every body is different, but in general, women needs to eat 2000 calories a day to sustain weight, and 1750 to lose weight. If you’re not sure how much you should be eating, consult your GP before changing your diet for advice.
These are the best body sculpting foods to keep you feeling full and fuelled…
Lean Chicken Breast
If you’re looking to tone and sculpt your body into fine form then you need to feed your muscles. The stronger and more powerful your muscles are, the more calories you will burn – and faster. Aim to eat around 15-20g of protein with each meal. A grilled chicken breast is ideal because it’s low in fat and high in protein.
Dark Turkey Meat
Why dark you say? Lean in fat and high in protein, dark turkey meat also contains twice as much beauty-boosting zinc and riboflavin as white meat – both as essential for energy as they are for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Oily fish like mackerel, too, are particularly nutritious forms of low calorie protein. Packed full of omega 3 and 6, calcium, selenium, magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, vitamins A, B12, C and K (phew!), eating a portion of mackerel three times a week is your one-way ticket to glowing skin, shiny hair and a toned bod.
Not keen on mackerel? Grill up a salmon steak instead. Equally high in protein, it’s a great, oily, slightly less fishy alternative.
Hell, why not throw some tuna into the mix while we’re at it. High in protein, low in calories, low in fat… Grilled fresh steaks or plain old tinned, it’s all good news for our body sculpting diet.
And don’t forget seafood, like prawns, either. They’re even lower in calories than fish, and equally protein-rich, as well as being high in skin-clearing minerals like selenium.
As are oysters, which are particularly high in body sculpting protein, calcium, zinc, selenium, iron (essential for collagen production) and vitamin A.
There are many ways to cook an egg, and we advise you to try all of them if you’re striving for a strong, toned physique. Eggs are a great low-cal source of protein – just remember that the yolks are quite high in saturated fat (as well as other nutrients, like selenium and zinc, of course). Egg white omelettes are a great call.
Don’t rule out a good old-fashioned steak. We’re not talking about the kind cooked in cholesterol-dripping butter, but a lean, grilled piece of meat will provide just the boost of protein and iron you need to feed those hungry muscles. Remember, your intake of red meats should be limited as they are higher in saturated fats and calories than fish, but once or twice a week could do your bod the world of firming good.
Dairy products, like cheese, are good sources of protein and calcium, but beware – most varieties are high in saturated fats, and should be limited in your body-sculpting diet. Not so cottage cheese – a low fat, high protein alternative. Spread on rice crackers, enjoy in a jacket spud or add a little to an egg white omelette.
And don’t forget soya protein alternatives, either. Taken as a supplement, soya is thought to have a collagen-boosting, anti-ageing effect, so coupled with the high levels of protein and low fat that tofu contains, it’s an ideal addition to your diet if you’re looking to firm up fast. Best enjoyed marinated and cooked in a stir fry with some of the other ingredients from this list.
Forget lettuce – spinach is a salad leaf you’d be foolish to ignore. It’s high in iron and vitamin C, both of which help to produce collagen in the body. Collagen is a rubbery type of protein that gives skin and muscles their toned, youthful and elastic appearance. Spinach is also high in fibre, and will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
As do other green leafy vegetables, like kale, which is packed full of collagen-boosting vitamins and minerals, as well as being low in calories…
…And broccoli. Our advice? Eat it as often as possible, in as many ways as you can think of. There are fewer vegetables more nutritious.
Red vegetables, like beetroot, contain a naturally-occurring plant chemical called lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that encourages skin elasticity through collagen production, as well as protecting the skin from sun damage. Must be great for our body sculpting then.
Red pepper, too, is packed with collagen-boosting lycopene…
…As are tomatoes. All are low in fat and calories too, while being good sources of fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Our advice? Try to include at least one portion of red veg and one portion of green veg every day.
Berries are fabulous sources of antioxidants – vitamins which help to track down and get rid of harmful toxins in the body. Together with…
…Blueberries also help to boost skin firming collagen in the body. A handful of berries contains under 100 calories, so they are a great mid-day snack.
…Particularly when coupled with a small handful of protein-packed almonds. The nuts are high in vitamin E, too, which helps to keep your skin, hair and nails in tip-top condition.
The humble strawberry, too, makes a good collagen-boosting snack – particularly at just 90 calories for 16 of them.
In order to have the energy to exercise, build muscles, firm, tone and even think, our bodies need carbs. Steer clear of white, refined carbohydrates, and stick to wholegrain varieties, like brown rice, instead. Brown rice is packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as containing protein, so is a great choice to pair with other ingredients on this list.
Oats are great too, as they’re a long-lasting source of energy and high in fibre.
In order to reveal those newly-sculpted abs, we need to rid our bodies of unwanted water retention and swelling in the intestines. Cider vinegar is not only a diuretic (meaning that it makes you pee), but also a good anti-inflammatory (it calms inflammation). Use as a salad dressing, or drink a spoonful at mealtimes.
If you’re looking for an ideal snack food to sculpt your body and boost your skin at the same time, sunflower seeds are it. Packed with protein, vitamins and fibre, grazing on a handful in between meal times will be beneficial.
Pulses are all-round superfoods when it comes to the body sculpting diet plans, as they contain essential collagen-boosting nutrients, protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre. Lentils are a fab example of this…
…As are haricot beans – the type you’d find in a baked bean can. Our advice? Make your own, low-fat sauce to go with, and serve with a portion of green veggies and brown rice.
Orange vegetables like carrots are full of vitamin A, which helps to regenerate collagen in the body that has been damaged. As does…
…Sweet potato, which is also a great source of slow-release carbohydrate. And darn tasty cut into oven-baked wedges, too.
To top it all off? Reach for a steaming mug of white tea – the most antioxidant-rich part of the tea plant, known for its anti-ageing, firming and regenerating benefits. Two to three cups a day ought to do it. Along with plenty of water.
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