Nearly all industries, disciplines, and practices are subject to trends. Nutrition and the opinions surrounding it seem to be especially volatile. In my lifetime alone, I have seen a dramatic shift in the thinking regarding nutrition. What’s interesting to note is that trends can be influenced by various factors. There is always the possibility that there is an agenda being pushed for the sake of making money. Any company or industry with something to gain from a favorable result can fund and publish “studies” which might influence people to buy their products. This happens in the food industry all the time.
In the past, fat has gotten a pretty bad rap. Its name hasn't done it any favors either, as what you eat is synonymous with what your body holds: “fat makes you fat.” Many people probably imagine that swallowing grams of fat somehow immediately transform into love handles. The good news is it doesn't work like that. Fat can make you fat, but so can any other macronutrient that is consumed in overabundance. So, should you avoid fat?
Let’s get one thing clear before we begin—whole food is king. When it comes to fueling our bodies, evolution reigns supreme. We have evolved over tens of thousands of years to run well on certain foods. Eating unprocessed, whole foods should always be the goal. Now there are some instances where the use of nutritional shakes is not only acceptable but beneficial, especially in the pursuit of physical performance and enhancing our physique. I want to talk about those moments.
Carbohydrates have long served as the energy-yielding macronutrient of choice for athletes. Actually, carbs have held a special place in the field of nutrition as a whole. I don’t know what they teach in health class nowadays, but I can still see bread, pasta, and grains filling out that nice wide piece of real estate at the bottom of the old food guide pyramid. Yeah, buddy. This leaves us with many questions, but for the sake of this article let’s focus on two main points. First, should carbohydrates serve as the foundation of an athlete’s diet? Second, what are the optimal carbohydrate sources for the athlete?
If your childhood was anything like mine, you grew up believing that dairy was wholesome and nutritious. Milk was the very lifeblood of the mammalian class (to which we belong), and if it’s good enough to rear a child with—to foster rapid growth and development—then it MUST be the perfect food for bodybuilders. Further, dairy is protein-rich, widely available, and decently priced. The fact that it tastes damn good surely doesn’t hurt either, but I personally don’t believe that dairy is the ideal protein source for those in search of a bigger, stronger, and healthier looking body. In fact, it is my deep belief that the consumption of dairy can be altogether counterproductive for a large number people.
Most new lifters instinctually gravitate toward the bench press because it has been a gauge of strength for athletes across all disciplines. If you’d like to bench like a pro though, Evan Centopani has a few tips. Check it out.
Bodybuilding is nothing if not a game of balance. The end goal for each of us is a balanced physique where all muscle groups are maximally developed. Once we realize this, we almost always want to know how we can develop each muscle group to its maximum capacity.
If I were to walk into any gym, anywhere in the world, and ask people what they want most from their time training, I would undoubtedly hear a variation on this theme: gain muscle and/or strength, lose fat, or increase speed.