Raw Deal

Good news, sushi lovers - raw tuna can help add muscle to your frame
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We're big fans of sushi (especially tuna) and so are several IFBB pro bodybuilders. Three-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, who tracks his nutrition program closely, even eats sushi on his "high-carb" precontest days. "It's a very clean food, and it's high in protein," Cutler says. "Even when I'm preparing for a show, I don't worry about the carbs in the rice on my high-carb days."

What Cutler does concern himself with is the amount of protein and fat that is found in the type of sushi he chooses — and this can vary significantly from one type of tuna to another. Rodelio Aglibot, an executive chef at Koi restaurant in Los Angeles, says that there are several different names for low-fat tuna. "Hawaiians call it ahi tuna; on Japanese sushi menus, it is referred to as maguro. Both of these come from the yellowfin tuna, which is very low in fat," he says. "But even tuna that are fattier, such as bluefin or bigeye tuna, are still healthy because they have plenty of good omega-3 fats."

Aglibot says that bodybuilders may want to be wary of a type of sushi called toro. "This is a highly fatty cut of fish from the belly that often is too rich for many peoples' palates."

The amount of fat in yellowfin tuna varies from a negligible amount up to about four grams (g) in an eight-ounce serving, with about 50 g of protein per eight-ounce portion. Eight ounces of bluefin can have as much as 15 g of fat, but also offers 50 g of protein. Both are good choices for bodybuilders.

One of the biggest issues in choosing a proper piece of fish is to make certain it's fresh. "Look for a piece of fish that's tacky to the touch, but not slimy," he says. "It should be firm. If the surface is grainy, that means it's old or it's been frozen."

FLEX recommends that you eat fish at least twice a week, whether it's cooked or served sushi style.

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