70 Ways to Eat for Muscle

Tips for building quality size & strength.

70 Ways to Eat for Muscle


Learn what protein foods give you the best results. Some bodybuilders swear by red meat, saying they feel stronger and look fuller when they eat it, perhaps because of the iron, zinc, creatine, etc., it contains. Others prefer fish or chicken, saying they have trouble digesting red meat. Choose the protein sources that work best for you, and use the same logic in making your other nutritional choices, as well.


Learn to watch for deceptive practices (sometimes "low fat" and "low in sugar" don't mean what you think they do) by reading the fine print closely. Know the differences between the types of carbohydrates listed on panels, and keep in mind that not every calorie is created equal. And do the math. Pay attention to the number of servings per package and how the nutritional information adds up. Get the label lingo down. It should help your bodybuilding efforts immensely.


Unless you're angling to make a certain weight class for competition, don't put too much stock in bodyweight to gauge progress. Goals are important, and sometimes it you aim to lose or gain a specific number of pounds, bodyweight can provide some clear-cut guidance. Ultimately, however, bodybuilders are concerned with body composition and appearance more than with what the scale tells them. We advise you do the same. Use a mirror or bodyfat measurements (although these can be misleading sometimes, too) to judge your progress. That's how the big boys do it. Also, ask for help, but only trust the eyes of a friend who will tell you the truth, not one who will tell you what you want to hear.


It's not just the Dr. Oz crowd that falls for the diet of the month; many bodybuilders fall into the trap of blindly accepting the latest hype as the real deal. We all get a laugh when some poor misguided soul says he's on a "fruit cup" regimen or something just as silly, but some muscleheads would get on their hands and knees and chomp grass in the yard if some "guru" told them to. Use common sense, employ methods from trusted sources only and stick to supplements from established manufacturers. The latest craze is probably just that – crazed. But some "fads" do have their merits. Look for FLEX's examination of the most popular diets in an upcoming issue.


Besides careful food selection, the best way to control the amount of fat you're taking in is through careful preparation. Of course, you must avoid adding unwanted fats to the foods you're preparing. (Do you really need to put that pat of butter on top of that lean cut of filet mignon?) Also, trim off all visible fat and blot off grease and oils from cooked foods. Grilling is a better option than frying, as the fat drips off.


Food poisoning is one of the quickest ways to undo weeks of bodybuilding gains. Make certain that the food you're taking in is the best quality. Check expiration dates on everything that you buy. Thoroughly cook all meats so that harmful bacteria are destroyed. Thoroughly wash surfaces with bleach or other cleaning solutions so that you don't contaminate cooked or ready-to-eat foods.


Bodybuilders should keep their sodium intake moderate to low. To reduce yours, try a salt substitute. Many stores carry salt replacement products, which are a mix of regular table salt (sodium chloride) and potassium chloride (which tastes the same). Unlike table salt, potassium chloride doesn't cause bloating, and it boosts muscle cell volume, lowers blood pressure and brings your diet closer to the one on which humanity evolved (the hunter-gatherer diet was low in sodium and high in potassium).


Choose your condiments with care. Some, such as mayonnaise, are loaded with saturated fats and are best skipped entirely. Nonfat mayonnaise, on the other hand, can make a sandwich more palatable. Condiments can make bland food tastier, and they may encourage you to eat a greater quantity of quality calories. Some condiments, such as mustard, are generally low in calories and high in flavor, making them ideal for cooking or enhancing taste.


It would be nice to take a magic potion that does the work of a three-week diet or to down a miracle supplement so that you can meet your physique goals. If you think that's possible, you've been sold a bill of goods that you'll regret buying for the rest of your life. A bodybuilding lifestyle gives you tools and teaches you habits that will last a lifetime. A bodybuilding diet can help you feel and look better not just when you're young, but all the rest of your days. Sacrifice your health and your freedom for a quick fix and you can end up ruining your life. Don't listen to the lazy court jesters of the sport who prey on the uneducated and young. There are no shortcuts.


Eating in restaurants doesn't need to be the downfall of a bodybuilding diet. If you have discipline and communication skills, you can generally find a reasonable, if not ideal, bodybuilding meal on almost any menu. Rule one is stick to basics: Order baked or broiled meat dishes, without breading or sauces. Order vegetables as simply prepared as possible. Ask about food prep: Are the mashed potatoes made with heavy cream? If so, choose a plain baked potato instead. Stay with vinegar-and-oil salad dressing, and when in doubt, ask for it on the side. - FLEX

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