Whether you’re building muscles or getting lean, you want to eat every 2 to 3 hours. For a weight-loss diet, it keeps your metabolism running. You aren’t eating any more food that you normally would – you’re just spreading it out so your body doesn’t have time to convert it to fat or get hungry. And for your training diet, your muscles are constantly rebuilding themselves after the gym. You need to keep a constant stream of nutrients flowing.
You need a lot of water. It keeps you full, you’ll be sweating hard in the gym and it helps you properly digest all that protein you’re putting in your system. Eight cups’ worth a day isn’t enough. Aim for 16 to 20 glasses, spread over the day. Remember, you get fluid from everything you take into your body, such as whey shakes and food, so count it all, not just glasses of water.
Supplements are important to include in your diet. Whether it’s an essential fatty acid (EFA), a good multivitamin, or a test booster such as ZEUS, each can help you achieve your dietary and training goals.
Always Cook Smart
Don’t add useless calories by cooking your food the wrong way. Steaming, dry grilling (outdoor or electric indoor), nuking or boiling will get the job done right.
Smart Shortcuts Are Fine
There are a lot of pre-packaged foods out there to make your life easier. Use the right ones. Check the label to make sure they aren’t adding fat, sugar or salt you don’t want. Plain egg whites are good, Lean Cuisine® isn’t.
Spice It Up
Eating the same food over and over six times a day for weeks is hard. You can make it easier by adding dry spices to your meal. They add flavor without significantly adding calories. So shake the spice on. Just stay away from spice mixes or pastes — they can be loaded with salt and fat.
Your body needs 7 to 10 hours of sleep every night. This is the prime time for your muscles to rebuild themselves, and lack of sleep will slow down your weight loss.
When it gets cold outside and people around you start getting sick, you need to be armed. In short, you need an action plan before you get sick from the latest superbug.
Naturally, your diet is the frontline of your defences, so it makes sense to start there. Here are the three best tips for modifying your diet this winter.
Eat more calories: During the winter months, your body has to use more energy because it works harder to keep you warm and mount a defence against harmful bacterial and viral invaders. Eat more and give it the extra energy it needs to keep you on top of your game.
Eat more vegetables: Less selection is available in the winter, but don’t let that stop you – you need plenty of vegetables in the winter, and especially green vegetables that are high in calcium and immune-system-boosting chlorophyll. Veggies fight back inflammation, and white vegetables such as garlic and onions are antibacterial and antiviral – natural antibiotics – that keep you healthy and in top form. Eat up.
Eat more fats: Fatty acids are critical for your health, especially in the winter when fresh fish isn’t so easy to get. Essential fatty acids not only are calorie-rich sources of energy, but also boost your testosterone and hormone production and reduce inflammation that comes from training and sickness.
Chicken is a bodybuilding staple, and as much as you sub in other lean proteins, it’s going to end up in the mix. So let’s spice up your meals – literally. Here are a number of easy and different things you can do to chicken that you might not have thought of. You never know – you might actually start looking forward to eating.
Chicken Spice Guide
A mild Indian curry intended for grilled meats. You can buy it as a dry spice mix or as a paste. Often you’re instructed to mix it with yogurt before putting it on your chicken, but this really isn’t necessary. Both paste and dry spices are usually low in fat, but different brands can have higher levels of salt.
This is the core ingredient of traditional Italian pesto. The problems with pesto are the Parmesan cheese, fatty pine nuts and olive oil. Just blend up the basil, and you get a lot of taste without adding any noticeable calories, fat or salt.
If you like it spicy, this stuff delivers. This Jamaican barbeque flavor is a mix of allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers that may also have cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme or garlic. You can find jerk mix at most well-stocked supermarkets. Just be careful of the salt content of some brands.
BBQ dry seasoning
It’s a good idea to stay away from the pre-mixed barbeque sauces, which can be high in sugar. Of course, the problem is that the dry mixes can be high in salt. Why not make your own? Throw these together any way you like: paprika, chili powder, cumin, pepper, artificial sweetener, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder.
Yep, we’re talking salad dressing. Just marinate your chicken overnight in the fridge in some dressing. Your best bet for a healthy choice is a brand such as Kraft® Fat Free. Of course, once again, keep an eye on the salt.
Balsamic vinegar can be used as a tasty marinade. Just use about ¼ cup of balsamic per chicken breast, then put it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready, cook as usual.
Ready for this tough dry spice recipe? Mix 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1½ teaspoons onion powder and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. That’s it. Put it on your chicken and cook. Opa!
It’s one of those questions that people keep asking us: “Can I train as a vegetarian?” What it comes down to is protein. Any bodybuilder can tell you that we need a lot of protein to build and rebuild our muscles to get the gains we’re looking for.
Type of vegetarians
Right off the top, let’s ask what kind of vegetarian you are, because there are several types. There’s lacto vegetarianism, meaning dairy is all right; ovo vegetarianism, in which eggs are fine; lacto-ovo vegetarianism, when you eat eggs and dairy; and veganism, in which all animal products are off the shopping list. Which are you? The more restrictive your diet, the harder it will be to get the balanced nutrition you need to perform.
When eating protein, you need to consider how much is being absorbed by the body. The biological value (BV) assigns a measure of how much of a food’s protein is absorbed and becomes part of the body. The higher the percentage, the more is absorbed.
We also need to consider that proteins contain several essential amino acids that your body needs to get from your food. Meat automatically comes with all of them. But not all other protein sources are complete proteins. This means they are missing one or more essential amino acids or don’t have enough of each type. That’s why it’s important to get your protein from several different sources to balance out the shortcomings of each type.
Now that we’ve explained what we’re looking for, can we get the huge amounts of good protein bodybuilders consume from nonmeat sources? Let’s take a look.
Well, if you’re the type of vegetarian that says eggs are fine, dig in. Chicken eggs have a high BV at 94 percent, plus egg whites are a complete protein, so eat up. Eggs used to have the highest BV, but whey protein was then found to have a higher level, which reset the scale.
If you didn’t know, whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process, as in curds and whey. So unless you’re all right with dairy, you may have to eliminate this protein source. But wait, there’s more bad news. An enzyme called rennet, which is used in the cheese-making process, is traditionally derived from calf stomachs. It is true that rennet can, and is, produced from genetically modified nonanimal sources, but there isn’t really any way to tell where your whey comes from. The good news is that if these things don’t bother you, whey has the highest biological value possible at 100 percent, and it’s a complete protein.
Beans are great sources of protein in many ways; however, they don’t have all the essential amino acids your body requires. It is essential to mix beans with other protein sources, such as rice, to get everything your body needs. That being said, beans have a BV of 96 percent.
Really, this is the heart of the question. Soy has become the vegetarian “poster boy” for protein. Even if you never touch tofu, chances are you’re still eating some soy as it is added into a huge number of processed foods. But some people are afraid of soy. This is because soy contains phytoestrogens, which are very chemically similar to the primarily female hormone estrogen. This makes many men, bodybuilders included, very nervous. There are a lot of things being said about soy, both for and against eating large amounts of it, and a lot of that information is conflicting.
Estrogen: Phytoestrogens are not estrogen. Though it has been suggested, it’s generally accepted that eating huge quantities of soy will not cause you to grow breasts. Phytoestrogens can act as an estrogen booster or as an estrogen blocker – it all depends. Some studies also suggest that it can slightly reduce testosterone levels in men, but once again, not all studies say the same.1
Fertility: Wait, wait. Don’t worry. There have been some studies that have suggested a link between soy and lower fertility. A recent study suggests a slight reduction in sperm concentration.2 The thing is, critics of this study say that the 99-man survey group was too small, and that other environmental factors were not properly considered. So once again, there’s no convincing reason not to eat soy.
There are many mixed messages out there about soy, and a distinct lack of consensus among professionals. You can be wary and limit soy intake, or you can go right ahead and use it, as many bodybuilders have. Soy is generally considered a complete protein, and its BV can range from 64 percent for tofu to 96 percent for a whole soybean.
So it really comes down to personal choice. Can you be a vegetarian bodybuilder? Yes, it’s possible, but it isn’t easy. You’ll need to keep a very, very close eye on your nutrition. So if you do decide to give it a try, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re properly feeding your body to maximize your gains and stay healthy.