The holiday season brings a slight air of dread for the more health conscious. However, instead of piling on the gravy and gobbling down the stuffing, try and focus on the bodybuilding potential of typical Christmas ingredients. While a traditional Christmas meal may seem high in fat and low in anything good, it can actually have some pretty strong building blocks for building you.
- The Turkey
Turkey is the leanest white meat and therefore should be seen as a treat to any bodybuilder wanting to build lean muscle. Eating the skinless, boneless breast is the ideal cut for a bodybuilder, with only 27g of protein and only 0.72g of fat per each 1lb serving. Only containing 125 calories a portion, this light meat is also an excellent source of iron, which increases energy; zinc, which speeds up muscle-building chemical reactions in the body; potassium, which helps with muscles contraction and strength; and phosphorous, an essential mineral for bone strength. Equally, turkey is a source of Vitamin B6 and niacin, two vitamins that integral for keeping high energy levels.
- Brussel Sprouts
Not always a Christmas time favorite, Brussel sprouts belong to the cruciferous family, brothers to kale and broccoli. Similarly to their family members, Brussel sprouts contain high levels of phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, all of which help to prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In fact, the fiber in Brussel sprouts, when lightly steamed, binds with the bile acids in the digestive systems, making it easier for bile to be excreted which lowers cholesterol. What’s more, although kale and broccoli generally get the prize for providing protection to the body, Brussel sprouts contain higher levels of glucosinolates which help protect the body from cancer, and unlike their counterparts, Brussels provide their four types of glucosinolates in a particular combination strengthening their cancer defense. Lastly, and very surprisingly, Brussel sprouts are a phenomenal source of vitamin C, providing 50% more than an orange!
Soaked in goose fat and roasted until crispy, it is hard to believe that potatoes can really be a source of good on the Christmas plate. Cooked with this method, it’s true as animal fats are high in saturated fats. However, part-boiled then drizzled in olive oil and roasted, potatoes can provide an excellent source of carbohydrates, with 26g of total carbohydrates per potatoes and 2g of fiber. A good source of vitamin C, which aids recovery in between workouts, potatoes also providethiamin and niacin, essential for energy; and magnesium and potassium, which are needed for correct muscle function.
Eggnog, admittedly, is high in sugar and is typically high in fat. However, swap the whole cream for skim milk and the sugar for stevia and eggnog improves very quickly! While typically alcoholic, you can also use rum extract instead of rum to lower the caloric value. However, eggnog contains high levels of useful protein. One glass of eggnog typically contains two whole eggs, meaning at least 12 grams of protein. Egg whites themselves contain 40 different proteins that the body is able to use extremely efficiently. The amino acids in eggs are vital for the keeping the structure of certain proteins which help with joint health and hormone balance, making eggnog a surprisingly healthy Christmas beverage!
So don’t let Christmas break your bodybuilding cycle. Think before you eat and drink and take Christmas as a chance to indulge in a lean meat, high protein, vitamin-rich extravaganza.