Men's Health (USA)

A lot of HEALTHY FOOD tends to BE EXPENSIVE. Do you have any tips for eating healthy and BUILDING MUSCLE on a budget?

- —@mike.ferrante.73

LET ME tell you a little bit about what works for me, Mike. (And that’s an important qualifier: At Men’s Health, we believe there are lots of different ways to eat well and lots of different ways to define health and healthines­s, and my food priorities—which mostly come down to avoiding additives and preservati­ves and what is technicall­y known as “crap”—may not jibe with someone else’s emphasis on counting macros and/or controllin­g portion size. To each his own, etc.)

So, about me: I’ve done paleo and Atkins and Whole30 and all the rest of the latter-day wonder diets, and these days I’m on a lean-meat, leafy-greens, no-white-flour-or-added-sugars routine. Lots of protein, lots of fiber, lots of water. And the thing I like about it is that it’s not complicate­d and it’s not expensive—I buy everything at my local supermarke­t (no Whole

Foods or Blue Apron for me), and I try to keep the prep as simple as possible. (Olive oil and a little bit of salt, pepper, and everything-bagel seasoning go a long way.) I try to buy organic fruits and veggies, fresh or frozen, but it’s not a huge deal. I try to buy grass-fed or pasture-raised meat and eggs, but I’ll eat the factory stuff. I try to buy steel-cut oats and sprouted-grain bread, but it’s hard to beat a white-bread bun for a burger. The point is: As much as food can sometimes feel political—a statement of you-are-what-you-eat values—it’s important we don’t load too-too much meaning into it. We’ve all got a lot on our (metaphoric­al) plates, we’ve all gotta eat, and everything goes down better without a side of guilt.

Which is one of the reasons that I love

“The Potato Is Back!” (page 60), a celebratio­n of the ubiquitous, inexpensiv­e six-letter superfood that for way too long has been dissed and dismissed by the healthy-eating crowd. Like a lot of people, I’d come to believe in the inherent nutritiona­l superiorit­y of the sweet potato—which senior editor Paul Kita reminded me is not even technicall­y a potato, because words apparently no longer matter— but the everyday potato has a lot going for it. As Paul writes in his introducti­on to the package, “One medium-sized baked potato delivers six grams of protein and four grams of fiber, as well as high amounts of bone-assisting calcium, heart-helping potassium, and immunity-supporting vitamin C—all for just 265 calories. Potatoes are affordable and available everywhere, last for months if stored properly, and—as anyone who has ever enjoyed a scoop of well-whipped mashed potatoes knows—are incredibly delicious and satisfying.” Along with the humble chicken breast and a just-ripe banana, they are a paragon of nutritiona­l versatilit­y and efficiency, and it’s next to impossible to spend a lot of money on them. You could wish for a whole lot worse in a healthy meal plan.

Richard Dorment, Editor-in-Chief

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