So by this time you get the 411 on protein loud and clear. It honestly shouldn't have taken me to do it, as I know every inch of every page of your favorite bodybuilding mag or online forum has driven the protein message through your thick skull by now. That said, protein is only one of the three macronutrients, which are the primary bodily energy sources that must be consumed in bulk qualities in order to maintain life function. The other two absolutely critical calorie sources, so often overlooked, misunderstood and demonized are carbohydrates and fats.
Carbs, like protein, provide four calories per gram. They have long been touted as the energy source of choice for athletes undertaking strenuous activity. Carbohydrates can be found in two forms, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates or simple sugars are quickly assimilated and digested and can be found in chow sources like fruits and processed foods.Complex carbs are those that are more slowly burned for fuel. Sources of complex carbs include oatmeal, bran and brown rice.Carbs, some may argue, are not essential, but I beg to differ. The hard training athlete and the powerbuilder looking to add raw size must get very familiar with their carb sources, making them part and parcel of their daily grubbing regimen. For all but the dieting bodybuilder,a meal plan lacking in carbs is a plan for failure.
Fats are the most densely caloric of the macronutrients, providing nine calories per gram. Fuck what you heard, eating fat doesn't make you fat. Healthy fats, especially the EFAs (essential fatty acids) in actuality, provide myriad benefits for powerbuilders bent on lean mass accumulation. These vital advantages include an increase in the hormone critical to growth—testosterone, heightened metabolism which minimizes the a massing of bodyfat and can prove to be of immeasurable value in ensuring cardiovascular health. Sources of fat that should be the most ubiquitous in the heavy weight trainer's eating scheme include lean red meat, fish, nuts, whole eggs, non-skim dairy, olive oil and every meathead's favorite source of wholesome fats—natural peanut butter.
For a power bodybuilder in a mass phase, carbs are his best friend. In the quest for packing on size, the carbohydrate is an easy to eat, often delicious calorie source and can be counted on to provide energy for the heaviest and most grueling of bouts with the iron. Simple carbs are not the enemy of the most bulbous of the offseason freaks, but they are nonetheless still best served when consumed in the periods surrounding the workout. Complex carbs and those sources that are digested in slower fashion should be included all day long as an accompaniment to your trusty lean protein sources.
When the cock crows and the alarm clock won't snooze again, nothing says bodybuilding breakfast like a good bowl of oatmeal partnered with your incredible edibles. Paired with some fruit, this carb fast cessation will provide sustained energy as well as restore muscle glycogen which has dipped during slumber. The rest of the mass-inducing meals should include potatoes, pasta, white or brown rice, yams, oats or barley and a vegetable source containing plentiful vitamins and antioxidants as well as much needed fiber critical to keeping the human machine's plumbing in proper running order. A size-fiending powerbuilder should aim for 2-4 grams of carbohydrates per lb of desired offseason bodyweight, depending on current size and metabolic rate.
The carb crunch surrounding your workout is the best time to utilize the convenience of powdered, processed simple carbohydrates. These sources include dextrose, maltodextrin, trehalose or the carb du jour of our industry, waxy maize starch. These carbs when consumed preworkout and intraworkout top off muscle glycogen stores and provide the kind of necessary energy bursts needed to wage heavy combat in the gym. Postworkout, however, may be the absolute most critical carbohydrate feeding of the powerbuilder's day. With glycogen stores thoroughly depleted, copious amounts of simple carbohydrates must be ingested ASAP. Simple carbs loaded during this much touted "window of opportunity" provide a highly anabolic spike of insulin and can provide a molecular channel through which to flush a cascade of growth nutrients like creatine, amino acids and whey protein--but we'll get to all of that when it comes time to talk supplement shop. Bottom line, the mass seeker on a mission dismisses the necessity of the postworkout carb load at his own misinformed peril.
For a power athlete in a period of refinement, carbohydrate intake should be vastly more conservative. I am certainly not advocating a keto or Atkins-esque carb deprivation approach for all but the most advanced among us and even in such a case, a powerbuilder is never calorie-starved enough to go to such extremes. That said, complex carbs are the lone source that should be sought and when prepared, they should be plated in reasonable amounts. Carb loading is rarely on the menu for the refining powerbuilder, except in the case of the occasional hard-earned cheat meal. Limiting carbohydrate consumption in the evening can also be a consideration for the more carb-sensitive of our ilk or for those more prone to gaining adipose tissue.
Not to be left for last, fats are a critical component of the powerbuilding meal plan both during mass phases and periods of refinement. Fats are easily found in abundance naturally occurring in our protein sources, such as steak, eggs and fish. Fats can provide an ample calorie influx, as with a whopping nine calories per gram, they are an energy-dense food source. They can help to slow digestion before bed, nicely complimenting a pre-sleep protein source allowing for a sustained release "trickle" effect of amino acids into the bloodstream. Naturally occurring cholesterol can enhance testosterone production, which is why so many bodybuilders swear by the inherent growth properties of red meat and egg yolks. The oils found in fish and nuts can increase metabolism and help to conserve lean muscle when during a period of refinement a powerbuilder finds himself in a caloric deficit due to cleaner eating and heightened energy expenditure in the form of superset-riddled weight sessions and the necessary evil that is consistent cardio. Another intelligent way of fortifying your diet with whole food sources of fats is to prepare your meats, veggies and carbs in healthful oils like olive oil. The retro low-fat fad of the eighties needs to go back to where it came from—the past. Fat is phat, believe that. Get yours.
The table has been set, the rules are laid out before you. Next time around the block we'll map out a menu, talking supplements and finding the best strategy for incorporating them into your sample powerbuilding meal plans. Eating strategies designed both for the stretch-marking months of a mass phase and the sunken-cheeked weeks of refinement that loom large in your very near future.