5. SWEET POTATO
A buff body isn't built by protein alone. Carbohydrates provide energy you need to work hard and play hard. Sweet potatoes provide that oomph without overdosing your system with simple, fast-acting carbs. They're often used pre-contest by bodybuilders looking to fill out depleted muscles, but even if you're not getting ready for the stage, they're an excellent part of any dieting or mass-gaining strategy.
BUY IT: Sweet potatoes come in two varieties: the white kind are like regular baking potatoes; the dark ones have a dark skin and orange flesh and are packed with nutrients. When choosing a sweet potato, make sure it has a smooth, firm skin with no bruises or blemishes. Stick with smaller or medium-sized sweet potatoes, which tend to taste better than jumbo ones.
PREPARE IT: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub the potato under cold water using a veggie brush, making sure to remove all dirt. Pat it dry, then prick it 5-6 times all over with a fork. Place directly on a lower oven rack and bake about one hour (for an 8-12-ounce potato), or until it's soft when pierced with a fork.
NUTRIENTS: An 8-ounce sweet potato has 240 calories, 4 g protein, 55 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat, 7 g fiber.
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