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The Ultimate Grocery List

Written by Mark Johnson

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Looking to improve your health status and physique?  If so, you need to make sure that your diet is down pat.  When it comes to looking great naked as well as fending off disease and living well into your golden years, what you eat on a daily basis is going to have possibly the largest influence on your success.

While exercise is important – there’s no downplaying that, what you eat can have a much faster impact on how you look, how you feel, and how you manage your health.

When most people hear the term ‘nutrition’ or ‘diet’, they might immediately start thinking about counting calories, along with tracking how many grams of proteins, carbs, and fats they’re taking in.

And while those are all critical to success in managing your body weight, the foods that you eat are also very essential. Put the wrong foods in your body and you simply won’t be getting the micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – that your body needs to be as healthy as possible.

Without these, it won’t matter how many calories or grams of proteins, carbs, and fats you eat, you won’t be feeling your best, which is going to have the most significant influence on your overall health standing.

So this said, we’ve put together your ultimate grocery shopping list.  Basically, a long list of the healthiest foods on the planet that you should be fueling your body with.  It doesn’t so much matter whether your goal is fat loss or muscle building, these should be there.

Granted, if your goal is fat loss you may lean towards eating more of the high volume, low calorie foods compared to the calorie dense foods and vise versa for muscle building, one thing remains: proper food choices is key.

All of these will fit the bill provided they align with your target calorie intake.

So this said, let’s get you your ultimate grocery list, sorted by type of food.

Lean Proteins

Protein should form the cornerstone of your diet plan as it needs to be taken in with each meal and snack that you consume. Protein is going to help ensure that your body has the raw materials – the building blocks – to generate more lean muscle mass as well as repair any other bodily tissues.

Lean protein also helps stabilize blood glucose levels and ensure that you recover quickly between workout sessions. When selecting your lean protein, you’ll want to be sure that you are choosing those that contain either little fat, or the fat they do contain comes from healthy sources.  Fish for instance, can be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are key to optimal health.

Here is a list of all the lean protein sources you might consider putting into your grocery cart:

  • Chicken breast (white meat)
  • Turkey breast (white meat)
  • Extra lean ground turkey breast
  • Grass fed steak
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Bison
  • Venison
  • Veal
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Tilapia
  • Perch
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Ostrich
  • Whole eggs
  • Low fat cottage cheese
  • Low fat/low sugar Greek yogurt
  • Whey protein powder
  • Casein protein powder

Complex Carbohydrates

Next you come to the complex carbohydrates in your diet plan.  Carbohydrates get a bad rap in most health circles, however it’s more about the type of carbohydrate you’re eating and how much.  Choose wisely and carbohydrates will help, not hinder progress. In fact, you need them to complete all those intense workouts that you have planned.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, so the minute you completely eliminate them from the plan – or try to – you can expect to see your overall energy level plummet.

Even for those aiming to lose fat, they’re still important as they’ll help you stay strong during workouts (which is necessary for lifting heavy and maintaining lean muscle mass), and they’ll also help maintain a higher metabolic rate.  Leptin, a hormone that is responsible for regulating your resting metabolic rate starts to decrease when a very low calorie diet is assumed and can be responsible for those unwanted plateaus that many low carb dieters hit after a few months into their plan.  By adding more carbs back into the diet, you can side step this.

The trick when selecting your carbohydrate intake is to choose those that are as unprocessed as possible.  Think ‘single ingredient’. If they come from the ground, they’re a good choice to eat.

In addition to that, if you are trying to gain weight, you can opt for some whole wheat varieties of carbohydrate sources, which are more dense in calories. They can help you meet your daily totals when you’re struggling and falling short.

Here’s your list to consider.

  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Couscous
  • Steel cut oats
  • Minute oats (unflavored)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Beans (all varieties)
  • Chickpeas
  • Ezekiel bread

Additions for Weight Gain:

  • Whole wheat bagels
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  • Whole wheat soft tortilla wraps

Smart Fruit

In addition to eating your complex carbohydrates, fruit should also be in the picture. It’s important not to avoid fruit because even though it does contain some sugar, fruit is packed with fiber and important antioxidants that are needed to sustain a healthy body.

While you don’t want to overdo fruit if the goal is fat loss, almost everyone should be able to eat one or two servings per day.   Plus, it can help combat a craving for something sweet, which can then prevent you from eating something far worse than fruit.

If the goal is mass gain, fruit can be a nice way to boost your calorie intake up by adding it to fruit smoothies.  Not to mention, bananas are a perfect carbohydrate source to eat before or after your intense workout sessions.

Those who are aiming for mass gain can also incorporate a few servings of dried fruit on occasion as well if they’re trying to get their calorie intake up.  Those seeking fat loss however should side-step dried fruit entirely. It’s just too calorie dense to be in their plan.

Here are a list of great fruits to pick up:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Mangoes
  • Plums
  • Passion fruit
  • Papaya
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Pineapple

Additions For Weight Gain:

  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried peaches
  • Prunes

Nutrient Dense Vegetables

Once you have your complex carbohydrates and fruits in place, you then need to add your nutrient dense vegetables. Here again, regardless of your goal, you must be consuming vegetables. They’re rich in antioxidants, low in calories, high in fiber, and will help you feel your very best.

Those who are looking to build muscle mass may want to limit the volume of vegetables they eat as they may fill you up and make it harder to fit in the more calorie dense foods you need to eat, but they should still be on your plan.

For those seeking fat loss, it really doesn’t get much better than vegetables.  As they are so low in calories, they’re perfect for keeping you feeling satisfied before and after your meals, while also ensuring that you are staying regular on a lower calorie intake.

Let’s look at the best vegetables to be consuming that you’ll want to pick up regularly.  Remember that if it’s more convenient for you, you can also purchase many vegetables frozen and use them as well.

  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Watercress
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Green onions
  • Squash

Healthy Fats

The last nutrient that you need to be sure you’re taking in regularly is your healthy fats.  Healthy fats are also going to provide a long term source of energy for the body and are great for keeping your hunger under control. As they take a very long time to digest, they’ll really boost the satiety of any meal you happen to be eating.

For those who are hoping to build muscle, fats are also a very calorie dense way to get your needs met.  Adding just a small serving can significantly boost your calorie intake, making sure you do gain that muscle mass. Plus, healthy fats are also critical for keeping your testosterone levels up, which is another reason to add them into your plan.

Even for those seeking fat loss, eating fat can actually help the process along. Fats will help to keep blood sugar levels stabilized, ensuring that fat burning takes place for hours to come.

All of this said, it’s key that you focus on the right fats for your diet plan. Load your diet up with trans fats or saturated fat from unhealthy food sources and they’ll soon be working against you.

It’s the healthy saturated varieties you want along with monounsaturated fats and omega fatty acids.

Let’s look at the top picks for healthy fat sources to be putting into your cart:

  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Olive oil/extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Macadamia oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Grass fed butter
  • Grass fed beef
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseeds

Seasonings/Condiments

Finally, to help liven up your foods, you’ll also want to be sure that you are picking up some healthy seasonings and condiments.  This is where you really do need to be careful as there are many unhealthy options out there that will just take away from the benefits you’re seeing from selecting healthy foods.

Fortunately, there are options that will not only keep the health benefits in tact, but actually provide additional health benefits as well. Use these and you definitely don’t need to be eating a bland or boring diet.  They’ll liven up your food quickly and help you stick with your plan as you should.

Here are some of the main ones to pick up:

  • Mustard
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salsa
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Low sugar ketchup
  • Low sodium spices
  • Fresh or dried parsley
  • Fresh or dried oregano
  • Fresh or pureed garlic
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh or dried dill
  • Lemon juice

So there you have your ultimate grocery shopping list. Take this with you next time you’re heading out to get groceries and you’ll be bringing foods home that you can feel good about putting into your body.

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