Eats of Strenght

We’ve all heard the saying you are what you eat. Assuming the axiom is true, it stands to reason that if you want to get big and strong, you have to eat with those goals in mind.

Don’t just take it from us take it from the guys in the trenches. We interviewed four of the biggest, strongest and most successful guys in the iron business 2006 Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, three-time Arnold Bench-Press Championship winner Ryan Kennelly, 2006 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic runner-up Branch Warren and 2006 Colorado Pro and New York Pro champ Phil Heath. Then we distilled their eating rituals down to nine strong rules to follow to jack up your power. Keep these handy, and you’ll be able to strong-arm your way to a stalwart physique.



Tomorrow’s workouts are built on today’s fuel. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s not just the day of a workout that matters. Fueling up the right way the day prior to heavy training in the gym is equally important. That’s because it takes time for the body to convert carbs from foods such as rice or potatoes into blood glucose and then glycogen, which is a form of carbs stored in muscles and used as energy when needed.

I make sure that the day prior I have taken in enough carbs [3-4 grams per pound of bodyweight] to increase my muscle glycogen levels, Cutler explains. It’s all the food you eat the day before that’s going to give you energy the day after. Your diet has to be in check 24 hours before a workout.


If you want strength, you need carbs. The primary fuel sources your muscles use when you train heavy are creatine phosphate (which burns out after about 10-20 seconds) and muscle glycogen (which kicks in heavily after the creatine phosphate has run out, to fuel the remaining reps). So, to be strong set after set, your body requires plenty of carbohydrates, which are stored in muscle as glycogen.

You should shoot for 2-3 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight per day and as many as 4 g per pound the day before a big lift day. That’s 400-800 g of carbs for a 200-pound guy. Good sources include oatmeal, rice, potatoes, pasta and wholegrain bread.

Don’t limit carb intake to only preworkout. Kennelly he of the 905-pound bench press consumes plenty of carbs, especially after workouts. We go to a buffet [after training] and get all the good stuff: mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rice, he says. Carbohydrate intake and protein intake are what I focus on. When I bump up my protein I can feel it in the gym strengthwise, and when I bump up my carbohydrates I can see it on the scale. High-protein, high-carb intake is a great combination for strength. That’s a little different from bodybuilding, but in powerlifting, you can eat what you want and be strong.


Protect your muscle mass with protein. Protein is essential for driving muscle growth. When you lift extremely heavy, protein is critical for several reasons, the most important being to protect your muscles. The heavier you lift, the more mechanical damage your muscle fibers endure, and thus the more recovery they will need. More damage and recovery actually translates to greater growth.

When lifting heavy, ensure ample protein to aid recovery and further enhance muscle growth by getting in about 1.5 g per pound of bodyweight per day. That’s 300 g per day for a 200-pound bodybuilder. Good sources of quality protein include eggs, beef, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products.

As Warren confirms, In the morning before a workout, I’ll have my bodybuilder meal: egg whites, oatmeal and steak. For the next meal, I’ll have some turkey, some beef and potatoes. The third meal of the day is basically the same as the second, and then I train.


Dietary fat in moderate doses can be your friend. Unsaturated and saturated fats are important for bodybuilders and powerlifters for several reasons. Research shows that athletes who maintain higher fat intake, particularly saturated fat, have higher testosterone levels than those who eat lower-fat diets. Beef, which contains high-quality protein, is also a great source of saturated fat.

The health benefits of the unsaturated type of fat are numerous, plus it can help you stay lean and assist in joint recovery from the stress of workouts. Good sources of healthy monounsaturated fats are olive oil, mixed nuts, avocados and peanut butter.

For essential omega-3 fats, choose fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and white tuna, or other foods such as flaxseed oil and walnuts. Many trainers, like Heath, get their omega-3s at the sushi bar.

Offseason, it’s OK for me to go eat a ton of sushi with white rice, he admits. Aim to get about 30% of your total daily calories from fat, and 10% of those calories from saturated fat.


Load up on calories. There’s no way around this one: you need ample calories each day to power heavy workouts. As long as you follow the previous four rules, you should hit your mark of about 20 calories per pound of bodyweight, or 4,000 calories for a 200-pound man. You need to eat more calories than you burn. Otherwise, your body will enter starvation mode, which doesn’t allow for adequate muscle regeneration and growth. I’ve been changing up my eating habits, still sticking with mainly clean foods but trying to eat a little differently, Heath says. I want to be less restrictive and get more calories while I can in the offseason.


Chow down frequently. One way to make sure you’re taking in enough calories is to eat many times per day at relatively regular intervals. This will keep your metabolism and energy-producing mechanisms working consistently. When training for a big powerlifting competition, Kennelly says he would eat every two hours, which meant as many as nine meals a day.

That kind of schedule may be excessive for an average bodybuilder, but a minimum of five or six meals a day (spaced out no more than every three hours) should be doable. Offseason, I eat five bodybuilding meals a day, Warren says. Eating that frequently not only ensures you get in adequate calories, but it keeps your body fueled, supplies amino acids to your muscle fibers continually, and keeps your metabolism running at full speed.


Eat before you hit the weights. Consider the meal you eat prior to training to be an insurance policy. It is your last chance to adequately fuel your body before the big effort to follow.

Right before training, protein is the most critical nutrient, as it will help prevent your existing muscle mass from being broken down for fuel. It will also stimulate muscle growth immediately after the workout. Many guys choose a whey protein shake before workouts, as it is the most convenient form of protein and the most easily digested.

Other bodybuilders prefer whole foods before workouts. When Cutler was asked what he eats beforehand, he answered, Definitely beef. I usually have egg whites for breakfast, and then my second meal [before training] is some kind of red meat. Aim for about 20-40 g of protein before workouts, either in the form of a protein shake or a whole-food meal.


Eat after you hit the weights. Immediately after your workout, you must refuel with fast-digesting protein and carbs. The protein will provide your muscles with an immediate source of amino acids for building muscle protein, and the carbs will restock depleted muscle glycogen stores, blunt the release of cortisol (a catabolic hormone) and boost your levels of the anabolic hormone insulin. Insulin drives nutrients like glucose, amino acids and even creatine into muscle cells, and also kick-starts the molecular processes that turn amino acids (from a protein shake) into muscle.

Postworkout, your best bet is 40 g of protein in the form of a shake, along with 60-100 g of carbs from sources such as dextrose, maltodextrin, Vitargo or sugar. You can also obtain fast-digesting carbs from white bread, plain bagels or white potatoes.


Cut the junk food. When asked what foods he stays away from, Warren is quick to answer: junk food. For me personally, if I eat junk food, I don’t feel good. I feel sluggish and tired. That’s why the first four or five meals of the day are good meals. If I do eat something bad, that’s just my mental break; I’ll only do that at night.

Calories are important, as we state in rule number five, but they shouldn’t come from low-quality foods like candy, chips, pizza or French fries. Such foods pack an overabundance of what are often referred to as empty calories, which provide sugars and fats with little if any redeeming nutrients. Many contain trans fats, which are not only associated with cardiovascular disease, but also can limit muscle growth and encourage muscle breakdown.

Although a fast-digesting carb like sugar is good after a workout, it’s horrible any other time of day for the same reason it increases insulin levels. Boosting insulin while at rest encourages fat storage and leads to pangs of hunger and drops in energy. A particular problem is high-fructose corn syrup muscles can’t use fructose for fuel, so it’s sent to the liver where it is converted to glycogen. Once the glycogen levels of the liver are full, fructose is converted into bodyfat.

If we were to add a 10th rule to this list, it would be this: be consistent in following the other nine rules. Don’t go wrong by being inconsistent. Sometimes the inconsistency is in missing training days here or there; but more often, it’s in nutrition, where a lack of focus can put you off-track in a hurry. You can’t eat great one day and then poorly for two and expect to get stronger and build muscle.

Crafting a better and more powerful physique requires more than one great workout or a few random days of perfectly balanced, perfectly timed meals. It takes the complete execution of your training and nutrition plan, day after day, week after week. That type of consistency is what built the champions we quoted in this article, and it can work for you, too.

Lies, fabrications and outright fiction everywhere you turn you might think a political convention is in town.

No, it’s just a general discussion about protein in an ordinary gym. At its core, protein is a simple nutrient. The amino acids from dietary protein represent the bricks that lay the foundation a body uses to create new muscle tissue; if you fall short of the appropriate protein intake, you won’t grow. Simple, see?

That’s why protein has withstood the test of time among bodybuilders. It’s vital for growth, and greats from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Ronnie Coleman have made it the cornerstone of their mass-building plans.

Still, there’s quite a bit of misinformation passed around at gyms and on the Web regarding everything from how much protein is needed, to how much can be digested, to what form is better for bodybuilding. Here, we sort through the fact and fiction for you, tackling the seven most common misconceptions and setting the record straight.

1 Powders are better than food. Protein powders are easy to absorb, and absorption is an important part of the mass-building process. However, whole-food animal sources of protein, such as eggs, dairy, fowl, red meat and fish, have complete, though somewhat different, amino-acid profiles. Some are higher in certain amino acids than others, and this may be a reason why bodybuilders like Jay Cutler claim that serious mass can’t be built without red meat. Cutler tells – When I exclude red meat, I can’t add the mass and grow like I do when I eat it daily and sometimes twice daily. Is it the iron, B vitamins or creatine in the meat? Maybe. It’s also likely that the unique amino-acid combinations allow greater protein synthesis.

For optimal mass gains, don’t succumb to living mainly on powders. Choose a wide variety of foods and include powders before and after workouts, and at times when convenience is essential. The variable amino-acid concentrations among different foods may exert unique effects on you that result in better growth, as opposed to sticking with one or two protein foods or a couple of foods and a protein powder.

2 Protein needs are static. Bodybuilders trying to gain mass tend to stick to the same protein intake day in and day out. For example, a 200-pounder may eat as many as 300 grams of protein a day, with plenty of calories coming from carbohydrates in order to create a caloric surplus. Of course, protein and calories are the basics of muscle building. However, you can stimulate your body by mixing things up: one or two days out of every 10 or so, consume up to 400, 450 or 500 g of protein. Ideally, do this on training days to better stimulate growth. Changing levels specifically, instigating a surplus of amino acids in the blood can cause an increase in protein synthesis, the buildup of muscle mass in the body. Remaining faithful to the same protein intake day in and day out is OK, but varying protein intake with an occasional day or two of a very high consumption can lead to greater gains.

3 Everyone needs a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Although the typical recommendation of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is as close to a rule of thumb as there is which is why we often tout it in the pages of GoldenMuscles it’s not etched in stone. For true hardgainers who bust their butts in the gym, that number should be increased by 50%, to 1.5 g per pound of bodyweight. Keep in mind that you won’t grow regardless of how much protein you consume if you are slacking in the gym or training like a wuss.

The key is to match your protein intake with your training. If you’re a beginner, you probably don’t train as hard as someone with a lot of experience and you probably shouldn’t anyway so you may be able to get by on slightly less than a gram per pound of bodyweight. If you are a hardgainer or train with intensity on par with your favorite pro, start with 1 g per pound per day, but don’t hesitate to move it up from there if you fail to make significant visible gains.

#4 You can digest only a certain amount of protein per meal.Somewhere along the way, the idea that a body can handle no more than 30 g of protein per sitting wedged its way into nutrition circles. That’s an old wives tale. Do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger grew on 30 g of protein every three hours, the equivalent of eating only four or five ounces of chicken at each meal? Think again. Protein digestibility and the amount your body can handle per meal is tied to how much you weigh and how hard you train. The more you weigh, the more you need; the harder you train, the more you need. In turn, the more you need, the more you’ll be able to digest, absorb and assimilate. A 200-pound male will, in general, need more protein than a 160-pounder and should be able to digest more per meal. Digestibility is also linked to the amount of protein you consume on a regular basis. The more protein you eat regularly, the better your body becomes at digesting large protein meals.

5 Dairy-based proteins promote fat gains. This myth just won’t go away. The idea that dairy-based proteins low-fat or nonfat milk, cheese and yogurt lead to gains in fat or added water retention is, well, wrong. Dairy is perfectly fine. It’s a great source of protein, and some research even shows that dairy, when combined with a low-calorie intake, could possibly coax fat loss.

The dairy misconception could be connected to the fact that most cheeses, including nonfat cottage cheese and nonfat sliced cheese, contain excessive sodium, which has the potential to initiate water retention. However, even that’s overblown, because bodybuilders need more sodium.

It drives glycogen storage and indirectly supports growth by interacting with potassium to turn on pumping mechanisms within cells that govern the exchange of nutrients that lead to muscle repair. Plus, sodium is not the culprit many mistake it to be. If you suddenly change your sodium intake, abruptly increasing it, water retention is likely to be the result. However, if you consume dairy on a regular basis and maintain a relatively consistent sodium intake, you will adapt and probably avoid noticeable fluid retention.

6 Protein can’t be used as an energy source. This misconception relates to dieting bodybuilders. Some trainers advise against cutting way back on carbohydrates, insisting that a lack of carbs causes a loss of muscle tissue. However, by increasing protein intake while dieting, you offer your body alternatives to muscle tissue for use as fuel. Where a low-calorie or low-carb diet can cause muscle tissue to be broken down, an increase in protein consumption attracts the body to use dietary amino acids found in protein as a substitute for those in muscle tissue. It does so by burning some amino acids directly and by a process known as gluconeogenesis, in which amino acids are converted into glucose. The myth breaker: increase protein when carbs go down, and you’ll protect against muscle loss.

7 Complementary proteins promote growth. A cup of cooked oatmeal yields 6 g of protein, a medium bagel provides 11 g and two cups of cooked spaghetti supplies about 16 g. That may be a fact, but the type of protein derived from nonanimal sources might not be the best at creating or supporting protein synthesis. That’s because they are not complete proteins; they don’t contain all the essential amino acids the body needs to build mass.

The entire spectrum of amino acids, including all of the essential amino acids, can be found only in foods that are animal based. Fowl, fish, red meat, milk and eggs are best because they are complete proteins; they contain all of the amino acids the body needs to grow. The proteins found in nonanimal sources are called complementary, orjunk, proteins; they lack sufficient essential and required amino acids that are ideal for creating anabolic and recovery environments within the body.

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