The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield gained notoriety for coining the catchphrase “I don’t get no respect!” Several foods could echo Rodney’s words, in spite of having irrefutable benefits for bodybuilding athletes. Here are seven unappreciated eats that have been scorned or rejected by countless bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts.
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Pork has been wrongfully labeled as the “bad meat” by the bodybuilding masses, making beef and chicken the holy grail of animal protein. However the nutrition content of pork loin is comparable to chicken breast. In fact, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) analysis found that pork tenderloin contains only 2.98 grams of fat per three-ounce serving, compared to 3.03 grams of fat in a three-ounce serving of skinless chicken breast—qualifying pork tenderloin for “extra lean” status. In addition, pork loin contains 22 grams of protein in a three-ounce serving, and the taste offers a nice break if you’re bored with chicken.
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Let’s face it, the name alone is derogatory, but these tasty little “Bubba Gumps” are loaded with delicious, lean protein. Just three ounces of shrimp contains more than 20 grams of protein and less than a quarter gram of fat. Shrimp is also a good source omega-3 fatty acids. Still, they don’t seem to garner the attention or popularity of traditional diet sources like poultry or fish.
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Fruit is arguably the most natural food on the planet and it’s loaded with important vitamins and minerals. However, fitness enthusiasts often fear its fructose content. When consumed in excess of what’s needed for liver stores, fructose is converted into fatty acids, and subsequently stored in adipose tissue—the last thing an athlete wants.
However, when the liver is low in glycogen, fructose will follow the metabolic pathway to glucose and be stored in the liver. It also gets stored in muscles, blood, brain, and all other places that glucose ends up in the right circumstances. Fructose is not automatically destined for fat storage.
The truth is, fruit can actually aid with fat loss. Most fruits are low enegy dense foods, meaning they have a low number of calories per unit of volume. They are also high in fiber and water, a combination shown to help with satiety.
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A medium-sized 150 gram white potato with the skin provides copious amounts of vitamin C and B6, and nearly twice the potassium of a medium sized banana. They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, providing energy for higher intensity exercise like resistance training.
Although once a diet staple, bodybuilders have slandered white potatoes because they have a high glycemic index (GI). The fear is a subsequent rise in blood glucose or “glycemic response,” which subsequently triggers an excess production of insulin. Based on this rationale, they generally choose lower GI red or sweet potatoes over the white potato.
Except when potatoes are consumed as part of a typical bodybuilding meal like chicken, potato and vegetables, the glycemic index of the entire meal is changed. Protein, fat and fiber all slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. So a meal including white potatoes with some added fiber, fat and/or protein vs. a meal of a red or sweet potato with the same fiber, fat and protein will digest at essentially the same rate, and influence blood sugar in a similar manner.
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Any list of “best bodybuilding foods” is sure to include egg whites. They are rich in protein and have hardly a trace of fat. But for a long time, the yolk has been deemed utter trash. In fear of the fat and cholesterol content of the yolk, athletes everywhere have been straining, scooping, and tossing them down the kitchen sink. But to the surprise of many, the yolks are far more nutritious than the whites.
Additionally, the fat in the yolk is largely composed of the unsaturated form. So unless you’re aiming to reduce calories via dietary fats, keeping those yolks isn’t so bad after all. And several research studies suggest that dietary cholesterol of whole eggs does not affect blood cholesterol or triglycerides. It’s the saturated fat content in food that drives up cholesterol levels.
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A substantial body of research over the past few decades has consistently shows that carbs are essential for optimizing intense anaerobic exercise (weight-training). Pasta is rich in complex carbs, and while most people think of pasta as a high GI, “refined carb” comprised of white flour, it’s not. Most pasta is made with durum wheat flour, which breaks down slowly, providing a sustained release of glucose for fuel. Pasta also packs higher levels of protein than many traditional carb sources, which makes it hard to beat for adding quality mass.
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Milk has been embraced by the bodybuilding community like Justin Bieber at a Metallica concert. In spite of the overwhelming disapproval, it could be one of the finest muscle building brews on the planet.
Milk is comprised of two main proteins, casein and whey, in a ratio of about 80 percent casein to 20 percent whey. Both are considered high quality proteins as they are readily digestible and contain essential amino acids. Some research suggests the combination of these two amino acid profiles may provide an amplified muscle-building effect.
Milk also contains important minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which collectively facilitate muscle contraction and intracellular fluid balance. It’s also cost-efficient and makes almost any protein powder palatable.