Sometimes “good” isn’t quite good enough. “Good” grades don’t get you into an Ivy League school. Making a merely “good” movie doesn’t get you a Best Picture statuette (well, unless you happened to make Forrest Gump or Chicago). Bodybuilding fans know that “good” doesn’t even get you near a Mr. Olympia posedown.
Knowing that, why would you settle for a good meal plan when you can have a terrific one with just a few tweaks? To eat like a true bodybuilder and optimize your results in the gym, you need to pay attention to the specifics, like when to eat slow-burning carbs and when to rely on the fast-burning variety, and when to consume whey protein versus using a casein-based protein food.
Putting all the right pieces together in your own solid nutrition program can be difficult. Here, we cut through the confusion, showing you the best meals to eat for every meal of the day and letting you know why they’re superior.
Good: 8 egg whites, 2 cups oatmeal
Better: 20-gram (1 scoop) whey protein shake, 3 whole eggs, plain bagel with jelly
Why: Sure, the “good” breakfast is all right, as it delivers 32 g of high-quality protein from egg whites and 50 g of slow-burning carbs from oatmeal. Yet, the latter breakfast wins for several reasons, the first and most important being speed — as in speed of digestion.
When you wake in the morning after your eight-hour fast (or however long you sleep), you are in a catabolic state; your body has used a majority of its stored glycogen and has turned to your muscles to break them down for energy. A plain bagel with jelly provides a fast-digesting carb that will rapidly spike insulin levels — one of the few times in the day you want this to happen. Insulin will signal the body to stop robbing muscle for fuel and to use the carbs (in the form of glucose) from the bagel instead. The carbs will also restock your depleted muscle and liver glycogen levels.
Whey protein acts as the body’s fastest source of protein. The body will use the aminos from whey as fuel instead of the aminos from muscle fibers; the aminos from whey also will be used to rebuild what was broken down. Adding three whole eggs provides a longer-lasting high-quality protein source that will continue to rebuild your muscles after the whey protein has been used up. Egg yolks provide healthy fats, as well as highly bioavailable iron, riboflavin, folate, vitamins B12, D and E, and choline (which enhances strength and brain function).
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