There was a time in my life where my diet revolved around three things eggs, chicken and oatmeal.  Plain, dry, and not only lacking flavor but lacking any nutrition at all.  Now of course I ate other things but these were my staples and I didn’t venture too far from these basic bodybuilding staples.  And compared to the rest of my friends in college who were on a steady diet of Keystone Light and Domino’s I viewed myself as having the perfect diet, not to mention a killer physique and very little body fat.  

Not to mention I fell into the supplement trap created by all the Men’s Fitness magazines and bad advice I acquired from the gym rats with the biggest muscles.  I blew my hard earned money on crap from GNC to build muscle, give me energy, burn fat, get stronger and now looking back I have no idea if it actually did anything.  Even worse if there are any long term damages that they did to my insides.  We live and we learn and that is all a part of the learning curve that we all must go through.  I made the mistakes and you will reap the rewards.

Practice makes perfect and education brings enlightenment provided you are looking in the right places.  I am not a scientist, or a doctor, or a nutritionist, but I have done my research and read many books on nutrition as well as thousands of articles and reports and I’m fairly confident that I should be able to consider myself an expert on the topic by now.  I eat a near 100% whole food diet, balance the right nutrients throughout my day, and do it without spending countless hours in the kitchen preparing food every day.

I stick to the basics and since my days of plain oatmeal and egg whites I have learned to use another one of nature’s gifts to increase the flavor as well as the nutrition in many of my meals.  I use natures supplements a.k.a. spices to almost every meal because not only do the provide flavor they also provide mucho health benefits.  I’m sure you’ve all read countless articles sounding just like this post but what I am going to do is pick one spice, give you the condensed version of the benefits, and tell you how I incorporate it in my daily routine.

Did you know that cinnamon, a great little spice actually has some research showing some pretty kickass health benefits.  In a 2003 study on people with type 2 diabetes, taking in just 1/4-1 tsp daily of cinnamon resulted in reduced fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29%, triglycerides by 23 to 30%, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27%, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%.  This is some pretty powerful stuff.

So for those of you who are interested in burning some fat, cinnamon may have some characteristics that inadvertantly help.  Without getting too technical, it basically allows your body to naturally burn more fat by lowering the uptake of insulin.  Increased insulin levels created by a high carbohydrate diet prevents your body from burning fat.  Simple solution: eat less high glycemic carbohydrates such as processed flour and grain (mainly from corn READ: The Omnivore’s Dilemma)

This does NOT count

This is one cheap trick that just might help you tip the scale in your favor.  I keep my cinnamon out on the table with the rest of my condiments such as my sea salt(I don’t eat processed foods therefor I add a little sodium to my diet), pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil.  For breakfast, it goes in my oatmeal along with a sprinkle of crushed walnuts(omega-3s) and Wymann’s frozen blueberries.  I also use a dash in my coffee instead of sugar or sweetener.  It also works well in many nutritious desserts like peaches and ice cream.  You can make a great dip for fruit with cinnamon and yogurt.

Here is my recipe for the perfect bedtime snack for burning fat and building muscle.  I add a half scoop of chocolate protein powder, preferably casein (I’ll explain), blueberries and a dash of cinnamon.  If you are like most people I have talked to, you are not a fan of cottage cheese because of either the taste or the texture.  But honestly these additions change the entire taste of cottage cheese from wet sock to chocolate cinnamon heaven.  The texture is also completely warped to that of the consistency of pudding.  The reason cottage cheese is because it is a casein protein which digests very slowly and will keep your metabolism up while you sleep.  Blueberries for antioxidants to protect your insides and the cinnamon to decrease your insulin production.  Perfection.  Try it, you just might be surprised.

Written by Steve