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This podcast was inspired by a question from one of my followers on Instagram: “does the nutritional value of food change based on how it’s cooked?”

For example, you may have heard that boiled or steamed vegetables leak nutrients out into the water. Or you may have heard that roasting food can actually boost nutrient absorption.

So, do you need to consider cooking methods when meal prepping? How can you make food as nutritious as it can possibly be? Are there any other considerations in terms of how to cook your food?

Listen to this podcast to find out!


0:00 – Pre-order my new fitness book now for a chance to win over $12,000 in splendid swag: 

4:46 – How does cooking affect food?                                  

5:32 – Cooking with water                                  

6:11 – What about grilling and broiling?                              

9:09 – Grilling tips                                 

9:46 – Microwaving                               

11:24 – Baking and roasting                        

11:52 – Sauteing and stir frying

12:11 – Frying                          

14:04 – Key takeaways

Mentioned on the Show:

Pre-order my new fitness book now for a chance to win over $13,000 in splendid swag: 

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Many a person has been asking me how my new book Muscle for Life compares to my existing books, bigger, leaner, stronger, and Thinner. Leaner, stronger, and more specifically, people want to know whether Muscle for Life is worth reading if they’ve already read BLS or ts. Or they want to know which book and program will be best for them, regardless of what they’ve read or not read.

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Leaner, stronger. Or if you, or they want to start strength training but don’t feel quite ready for heavy barbell and dumbbell training, then again, muscle for Life will be the place to start. That said, there is. Also plenty in muscle for life for readers of bigger, leaner, stronger and thinner. Leaner stronger to like love and rub all over themselves, including new details on anti-aging strategies that actually work.

New thoughts and tools and tactics for winning the inner game of getting fit. New meal planning methods that allow you to control your calories and macros. Scale and measuring utensils. New training programs for men and women that form the perfect stepping stones into my bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner.

Leaner, stronger programs, new supplementation protocols specifically for middle and golden ars and new pre-made cutting and lean, gaining meal plans for both men and women. So basically, unless you are an advanced weightlifter who has mastered the fundamentals and is now trying to gain those last few pounds of muscle, muscle for life has something for you.

And if you go to Muscle for Life right now, muscle, f o r. and pre-order at least one copy of the book, you can get entered into my big book Launch Bonanza, my big giveaway of over $13,000 of fitness swag and stuff. That has real value too, not like. PDFs that I say are worth $97. Now I’m talking about thousand dollars exercise bikes, five, six, $700, pairs of adjustable dumbbells, a hundred dollars, kitchen appliances, all kinds of cool stuff.

So again, go to Muscle for Life Now pre-order a copy of the book, get entered. Giveaway, maybe then go to the gym and sacrifice some sweat to the gods of gains to increase your chances of winning. And then once you have the book, which releases on January 11th, so you don’t have to wait long, I would love to hear what you think and hear how you do on the programs.

Hey there, and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. And if you haven’t already, please do take a moment to subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in so you don’t miss any new episodes. And it helps me by boosting the ranking of the show in the various charts.

So today’s episode was inspired by a question I got from Andy Joe over on Instagram, and he asked me if the nutritional value of food changes based on how it is cooked. For example, he has. Heard that broccoli loses some nutrients the longer it’s boiled or steamed because they leak out into the water.

He heard that roasting foods actually boosts their nutritional value. It increases the amount of nutrients or the amount of nutrients that your body can absorb from the food, and so he would like to know if those are things he. Keep in mind when he’s meal prepping and if there are any other things he should keep in mind in terms of how to cook his food to make sure that it is as nutritious as it can be, and as this is something that I have been asked a number of times over the years and it’s something I have not directly addressed on the podcast and elsewhere, I thought I would record a podcast episode on it.

All right, so the first thing that should be said about cooking food is despite what the raw food zealots would have you believe. Research shows that generally speaking, cooking food generally helps your body digest and absorb the nutrients in it. For example, take eggs. The protein in cooked eggs is about 180%.

Digestible than the protein in raw eggs. But cooking can also decrease the amount of nutrients in food. And unfortunately, there is not one optimal cooking process for all foods. If you want to maximize the nutritional value of the food that you eat. You want to cook different foods in d. Ways. So take cooking with water.

Something you should know about that is any method that uses water in the cooking process such as boiling, poaching, steaming, will take out some of the vitamins and nutrients of vegetables. They will leach into the water to some degree. And this occurs because some of the vitamins in vegetables, like vitamin C and B vitamins are water soluble and are sensitive to heat.

Now in the case of fish, though, boiling is great research conducted by Fisheries College and Research Institute shows that boiling fish preserves the omega-3 fatty acid content more effectively than other methods of cooking, such as frying. So what about grilling and broiling? Well, grilling of course, requires high heat, and research shows this reduces the amount of B vitamins in meat by up to 40%.

It can cause a gees, as they are called advanced glycation end products to form. And studies show that if you eat too much of those too often, it can increase inflammation levels in the body. It can increase the risk of various chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Studies also show that grilling increases the amount of compounds that have been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies.

Uh, not yet in human studies, but of course that gives us a reason to be cautious. And these compounds are called heterocyclic Amine HCAs research shows that grilling can lead to an increase in another potentially cancer causing compound that is formed when fat drips on a hot surface. And that is called a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.

And lastly, when you grill food, it gets charred and research shows that that contains compounds that can increase the risk of some cancers. And so the takeaway there is not to never eat grilled meat or to be afraid of eating a steak now and then, or a hamburger now and then, but just that I wouldn’t recommend.

Making a habit of it. I wouldn’t recommend grilling red meat every single day for lunch or dinner or both, which is something the carnivore crowd probably does not want to hear. But I do think the current weight of the evidence supports that position. So again, if you’re having, let’s say, one serving of grilled red meat.

Per week, which would be about six ounces, and we could probably stretch that a little bit and say, all right, if you’re having six to eight ounces of grilled red meat per week, that is almost certainly not a problem, especially if you have a healthy cancer fighting lifestyle, which if you are a regular here on the podcast, you probably do, you probably maintain a healthy body composition.

You probably exercise regularly, you probably eat a lot of nutritious foods. You probably maintain good sleep hygiene. And so, So enjoy the occasional stay hamburger, pork chop or whatever. But if you are having several servings per week, I would recommend making a change to how you are cooking the food.

In particular, you can have several servings of red meat, especially relatively unprocessed red meat. I’m not talking about junk like bacon and sausages and other more highly processed red meat products that contain additional chemicals and unwanted. Things that’s different than a ribeye steak that you cook yourself or some ground beef that you throw into a stir fry, for example, which is what I do a couple of times per week, two or three times per week.

Usually I will swap the chicken in my dinner stir fry for. Red meat for ground beef 90 10 usually, and it makes the dish a little bit different. It’s nice to have a little bit of variety. Now, a couple of grilling tips I’ll mention if you care, you don’t really have to do these things if you are limiting yourself to, let’s say, one serving per week.

But I’ll just mention them because some people like. To take extra special measures to make their food as healthy or healthful as possible. So one is you can decrease the amount of hydrocarbons by up to 90% if you remove the drippings and you minimize the smoke. And two, you can decrease the amount of a GEs in some meat by almost half if you just marinate it for 30 minutes or.

In a natural acid like lemon juice or vinegar before cooking. All right. Now let’s talk about microwaving, and this one is controversial because contrary to what many people claim, especially many self-styled health grooves, microwaving food is completely safe. Research shows that microwaves can slightly reduce the nutrient content of some foods, but not enough to make a significant difference in your.

Or longevity or vitality. You are not going to develop nutritional insufficiencies or deficiencies because you microwave your food, because you microwave your vegetables, for example, or your grains. However, I would not recommend microwaving vegetables in water because remember, when you have hot water and vegetables, nutrients will leach into the.

And that, by the way, is one of the reasons that studies show that as far as different cooking methods go, microwaving is actually one of the best for preserving nutrients in food because it cooks it quickly and with minimal water. Now, I myself don’t use a microwave at all really because of the stuff I like to eat.

Doesn’t play well with the microwave. Like I do a stir fry for dinner, for example, and you’re not gonna make a good stir fry in the microwave. And I also genuinely don’t like the taste of microwaved food. There’s a big difference to me between something cooked in a. Pan or cooked in an oven and cooked in a microwave.

But if I needed something heated up quickly, like let’s say I need to heat up a soup quickly and get it down, or heat up some vegetables quickly or some meat quickly, I would have no problem using the microwave. Alright, moving down the list to baking and roasting. This is a great way of cooking a lot of foods, although I.

Mention that it can increase the content of hydrocarbons in some meats, although to a smaller extent than frying and grilling, because as you know, when you bake and roast meat, it doesn’t burn and it doesn’t smoke in the same way as when you grill it. But just thought I would mention that. Sauteing and stir frying great ways of cooking food.

Research shows that these are healthy methods that they can preserve or even enhance the vitamin content and increase the antioxidant capacity of vegetables. So vegetable stir fry again is what I have for dinner and I throw some meat in it. Now frying has an even worse reputation than microwaving, but ironic.

Doesn’t deserve all of the bad reputation that it has because research shows not all frying is the same. Not all fried food is as bad for our health as we might think, because frying food has actually been shown to preserve the nutrients better than boiling or baking. But the oil you fry in has to be exposed to just moderate temperatures, not very high temperatures for a long period, and it also can’t be repeatedly used.

So the fast food version of fried food, of course, doesn’t meat. Those criteria. You have oils that are heated to very high temperatures for long periods of time, and they are repeatedly used. But if you are frying something at home, then it is not necessarily as bad again, so long as you are not heating the oil to very high temperatures for extended periods of time and you’re not using it again and again.

The downside with even home Fri. Foods, you could say more healthily fried foods is they tend to be highly palatable. They tend to be very tasty, and that makes them easier to overeat. And the frying, of course, increases the calorie content because of the oil that’s absorbed in the cooking. And depending on what you are frying, it can add a lot of calories and therefore it is smart to.

Consume fried food in moderation. If you want to maintain a healthy body composition, and if you really like fried food, by the way, and you want to have it semi-regularly, get an air fryer. My best recommendation because it gives you like 80% of the experience of fried food with a lot fewer. Calories, air fryers are great.

Okay, so let’s wrap up this discussion now with a quick checklist. Here are the key takeaways for making your meals as nutritious as possible. So first, I’d recommend steaming your vegetables or stir frying them as often as possible. And steaming is particularly good because it helps them retain a lot of their nutritional value.

And if you are going to be boiling vegetables and you want to make sure that you are getting as many of their nutrients as possible, then consume. They were cooked in, so that could be a sauce, for example. And if you are supposed to add water to a sauce, you could add the water that you boiled the vegetables in.

Of course, soups are great for this. Just make sure that you drink all of the broth when you eat the soup, and if possible, don’t peel your vegetables. Because the skin has a lot of nutrients. It also often has a lot of fiber. Uh, I would recommend cutting food after. Rather than before cooking, because then less of it is exposed to heat and water, which leads to more nutrient retention.

Also use the shortest time necessary for safe consumption when you’re cooking meat or fish because that minimizes nutrient loss. And if you are going to grill meat, you can marinate it in a natural acid for at least 30 minutes before cooking to reduce, to greatly reduce the amount of potentially cancer.

Causing hydrocarbons in it and avoid eating charred meat. Don’t eat several servings of charred meat every week if you really like it. I would recommend no more than one serving per week. And if you prepare your food in a variety of ways, you’ll avoid the downsides of any single cooking method and you’ll enjoy the benefits of the other methods.

Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people.

Who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, mike muscle for, muscle f o r and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, What your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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