The Ultimate Nutrition Q&A

Expert answers to 25 of your most pressing bodybuilding diet and supplement queries.
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11. What’s the deal: should I be eating red meat or not?

Talk about coming full circle: bodybuilders in the ’60s and ’70s lived on red meat, while the cholesterol awakening of the ’80s and early ’90s left bodybuilders scrambling for ultralow-fat protein foods including egg whites, tuna and chicken breast.

Red meat is back and with good reason. Lean cuts such as top sirloin and flank steak don’t yield much more fat and cholesterol than chicken breast. When it comes to energy-producing B vitamins, including B12, plus creatine, iron and zinc, red meat has no parallel. B12, iron and zinc support cell growth and the development of red blood cells. Zinc is required to manufacture testosterone, the male hormone that impacts muscle strength and size. So if you want to get big, eat big, but eat smart to build lean, hard muscle.

12. What’s the best thing to eat first thing in the morning?

As soon as you wake up and before you cook breakfast, down about 20-40 g of fast-digesting whey protein and 20-40 g of fast-digesting carbs such as white bread or sugar. You wake up in a catabolic state due to the long night of fasting. To stop the catabolism (muscle breakdown), getting in fast-digesting protein and carbs will quickly put you into an anabolic state.

13. What’s your advice on breakfast?

Breakfast is considered by some to be the most important meal of the day. For bodybuilders, it is just one of the important ones, after your pre-breakfast meal (detailed in number 12) and your pre- and post-workout meals (detailed in numbers 15, 17 and 18). About 30-60 minutes after your first meal of the day, it’s time for a big, traditional whole-food bodybuilding breakfast. Go with quality protein such as four egg whites and two or three whole eggs, or 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cottage cheese, along with a slow-digesting carb like oatmeal or whole-wheat toast.

14. What’s the best protein for between-meal shakes?

A good way to get in extra protein and calories between meals is to drink protein shakes — but not just any type of protein. Although whey is considered supreme by many bodybuilders, the best option between meals is casein. Research shows that casein doesn’t leave you feeling as full as whey does after drinking it, so you’ll still be hungry for that all-important next meal. Consume about 40 g of casein protein.

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15. What’s the best preworkout meal?

A good preworkout meal will contain fast-digesting protein such as whey and slow-digesting carbs like fruit, oatmeal or whole-wheat bread. This combination enhances energy for training and aids muscle recovery and growth. Slow-digesting carbs will also keep insulin levels low, ensuring fat burning isn’t limited during the workout.

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