6. PORK TENDERLOIN
Pork is often shunned by diet purists, and what a shame. Not only is it more flavorful than chicken, but some cuts are almost as low in fat while still boasting the requisite protein power. Pork tenderloin is the filet mignon of pork -- it's the most tender, as well as the leanest portion, of the meat.
Buy It: Pork tenderloin is generally found prepacked in a plastic wrapper in the meat section of the grocery store and is usually dated. Be sure that the meat isn't expiring within a couple of days. Look for a tenderloin that feels firm, lacks a lot of visible fat and gristle, and has a tinge of pink to it. If it appears dry or even a little gray, don't purchase it.
Prepare It: Trim all visible fat using a sharp knife. Marinate the pork in your favorite marinade for one hour to overnight in the refrigerator, or coat it with your favorite spice rub. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Meanwhile, spray a skillet with nonstick spray and place over high heat. Brown the meat, about one minute per side, until just browned, then transfer to a baking dish and place in oven until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees F and the meat is only slightly pink inside, approximately 15-25 minutes. Slice and serve hot.
Nutrients: A 4-ounce serving has 136 calories, 24 g protein, 0 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 0 g fiber.
Asparagus? Seriously, if you want to grow, your mom was right -- you need veggies. When it comes to greens, you have plenty of great choices. Broccoli and spinach are other highly recommended options, but we picked asparagus for its water-leaching quality. Top bodybuilders turn to asparagus as a meal when it comes down to precontest crunch time and they need to get extra-tight for the stage.
Buy It: Whether the spears are thin or thick, they should have a bright-green color and be free of blemishes and bruises. The buds at the tip should be closed tightly, not wilting. For best taste, consume within three days of purchase.
Prepare It: Trim the base of each stalk. If you've chosen thick stalks with tough skin, it's best to peel the base end with a vegetable peeler. Lay a spear flat, then, starting about halfway between the tip and base, peel to the end of the base. Rotate the spear and continue to peel the lower half until all sides are peeled and the base is about the same thickness as the tip. Select a pan wide enough to lay the spears flat, add 1 inch of water and a pinch of salt, and place over high heat until water boils. Add asparagus so that the tips all face the same end. Boil 3-4 minutes for thin spears (4-6 minutes for thicker ones), or until spears are just crisp and tender. Remove and serve hot.
Nutrients: A 4-ounce serving has 27 calories, 3 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, less than 1 g fat, 2 g fiber.