.....Originally Posted by T-MagWe’re about to tell you the real secret to building a lean, muscular physique. This dark secret has been guarded for over one hundred years by a secret society made up of magazine publishers and supplement manufacturers. We’re risking life and limb to share this secret with you. Are you ready? Okay, here goes:
The secret is, there is no secret.
Okay, so this isn’t really a secret; it’s more like a piece of wisdom you only develop after at least ten years of hard training and proper dieting. But the fact remains, there are no quick fixes and no miracle training programs.
If there is a real "secret" out there, it’s simply this: A great body results from the consistent application of smart training and proper eating. It’s a four step process:
1) train hard
2) eat right
3) use supplementation when necessary
4) repeat for many, many years
Of these four factors, most people screw up when it comes to eating right. So, what the heck is "proper eating?" That depends on your goals. T-mag is full of different diets designed to fit whatever your physique goals may be. The basic differences in these diets are calorie requirements and macronutrient ratios. The funny thing is, bodybuilders tend to eat the same foods every day, regardless of what particular diet they’re using. They just switch around the amounts of protein, carbs and fat, and toy with their daily caloric intakes.
This seems strange to the "normal" Taco Bell eatin’ Oprah fans out there, but there’s a logical reason for this. Mainly, most of the food choices available at your local supermarket are crap! In fact, if there were such a thing as a bodybuilder’s grocery store, you wouldn’t need that much shelf space. Come on, do you really need 234 different kinds of breakfast cereal? No! In fact, I propose you don’t need any breakfast cereal!
The more you learn about what constitutes a good diet, the more you realize that 90% of what’s in the supermarket is garbage, a pure distraction from building the body you want.
With all this in mind, we called up a bunch of T-mag staffers like Cy Willson, Brock Strasser, Bill Roberts, John Berardi, John Koenig, and John Davies and asked them about their diets. With their help, we put together a list of the best and worst bodybuilding foods, plus a few that fall somewhere in the middle.
Pull up a chair and strap on a bib. Let’s dig in!
The Good Stuff
Old Fashioned Oatmeal — Make no mistake about it, oatmeal is the carb of choice for many bodybuilders. Even if you’re on a reduced carb diet, there’s nothing wrong with a serving of oatmeal (27g of carbs) to go along with your morning protein. Your body has been deprived of food all night, so some slow-acting carbs to replenish stores, plus some protein, make for a great bodybuilding breakfast.
Oatmeal has about three grams of natural unsaturated fats, five grams of protein, and two grams each of soluble and insoluble fiber. The fiber not only helps keep your pooper working properly, the soluble variety can help improve cholesterol levels, thus earning the American Heart Association’s "heart healthy" seal of approval.
Only buy oatmeal that lists "100% natural rolled oats" in the ingredients. That’s it! Oats should be the one and only ingredient. Do not purchase those individually packaged, flavored oatmeal products! (More on that in our "Bad Stuff" section.) Also, don’t screw up a good thing by adding milk and sugar. Eat your oatmeal like a man. And by the way, old fashioned oats cook up just fine in the microwave, no need to boil the water in a pot.
Oatmeal rocks. Make it a staple of your diet.
Fat Free Cottage Cheese — We hate the taste and texture of cottage cheese. Most of us also eat at least five pounds of those chunky curds a week. Our secret for making this stuff palatable? We blend it with protein powders and make puddings and thick shakes out of it. Why do we go through all that trouble? Easy, cottage cheese is a great source of casein, one of the best proteins for bodybuilders.
Casein gets props because of its slow digestion and absorption rates. A snack involving cottage cheese will provide a steady, slow paced release of amino acids into the bloodstream. Cottage cheese is also low in carbs. Combine that with its slow digesting protein and it makes an ideal bedtime snack to help prevent any possible nighttime catabolism (muscle wasting caused by an eight hour fast.)
You’ll want to stick to the fat free kind and avoid the creamed varieties because of their "bad" fat content. Sure, the fat free kind is a little bitter, but if you use it as a base for other foods like we do, then that doesn’t matter much. Besides, if you can bang out high rep squats or inject yourself with steroids, you can certainly eat cottage cheese, ya big wuss!
Tuna and Other Fish — You just can’t beat a high protein food that tastes like your girlfriend. (Okay, maybe we’ve just dated some skanky chicks.) If oatmeal is a staple carb source for bodybuilders, then tuna is a staple protein source. It’s cheap, low in fat, carb-free, and packs 13 grams of protein into just two ounces.
You can get it in cans or those new waterless "no-drain" packages, which are even more convenient (though a little more expensive.) You can also buy it packed in water or oil, the latter being very handy for those diets that require a lot of protein plus fat meals. Albacore tuna has 450 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per two ounce serving, even more if you’re lucky enough to get some of that yummy dolphin meat as a bonus!
We’ve heard rumors that there are other kinds of fish besides tuna, but they probably require cooking and only gay guys cook. (We’re kidding. Please stop typing those hate letters now.) Salmon is another good source and you can buy it in cans like tuna. Most of us think canned salmon is just plain nasty, but T-mag contributors John and Steve Berardi live off the stuff. That and breath mints.
Beef and Poultry — Let’s hear it for dead animal flesh, nature’s protein with feet! (Vegans love us, can’t ya tell?) This category includes beef, chicken, and turkey, although anything you can catch counts too. T-mag contributor Coach Davies even recommends large quantities of buffalo and ostrich to his athletes.
First, let’s hunker down on some juicy steak. Red meat got a bad rap back in the "ass-backwards 80’s" but things have started to swing in the other direction. The beef proponents were usually fat-free fanatics and animal rights activists who thought that eating bagels and soybeans all day was the enlightened path to health and thinness. They were wrong.
Beef is chocked full of protein and nutrients; it’s even been dubbed "nature’s multi-vitamin" by some. Sure, it has some fat, but fat ain’t bad in the right amounts. In fact, a very low fat diet can lead to low Testosterone levels. A proper amount of fat in your diet, even some saturated fat, is necessary and healthy.
Always go for steaks that have the words "round" or "loin" in the name. These are the leanest cuts. Avoid the fatty meats with the word "rib" in the name. For us, that simply means ordering sirloin instead of prime rib. At the grocery store, choose cuts that are over 90% lean and trim any excess fat. Beef jerky is good when you’re on the run, but avoid those processed and chemical-laden deli meats, along with bologna and franks.
White meat chicken and turkey are great too. Since they’re high in protein and carb-free, chicken breasts are one of bodybuilding’s most versatile foods. Eat ‘em up!
Eggs — Before the popularity of protein powders, bodybuilders relied largely on eggs to bump up their protein intake. A large egg has seven grams of protein, 80 calories, and a great BV (biological value).
Again, you may be wondering about the fat and cholesterol, and again I can tell you that the media has over-hyped the issues. Fact: cholesterol is the basic structure for all anabolic hormones. Without it, your body can't produce Testosterone. If you’re following a good diet and working out, a few whole eggs aren’t going to hurt you. Even the very conservative American Heart Association says it’s okay to have four whole eggs per week.
Still, most bodybuilders use egg whites in their meals with only one or two yolks thrown in. You can even buy pasteurized egg products with the yolks removed. Add a whole egg to a carton of egg substitute and you have a great bodybuilder omelet.
Just remember that despite how buff Rocky was, raw eggs suck, and we’re not talking about salmonella poisoning (although that risk does still exist to some extent despite improvements made by egg distributors over the last few years). According to a study found by John Berardi, the body can only utilize about half of the protein found in raw egg products. So not only are you risking getting sick, you’re wasting your money. Lesson: Cook your eggs!
Thread: Good vs. Bad Foods