To me, bodybuilding is no longer a term describing large men in tiny shorts who get on stage to show the world their physique. Bodybuilding is for anyone and everyone and simply refers to a person trying to get in better shape. It doesn’t matter if your bodybuilding pursuits are for better health, aesthetic value, or simply because you enjoy it. And whether you go to the gym twice a day or simply pick up a few weights and run a mile to relieve the stress of your job, you can feel free to call yourself a “bodybuilder.”
However unpleasant the thoughts of traditional bodybuilding contests are to some, there are lessons that can be learned from these muscle-bound individuals. From the intense discipline to the rigid nutritional habits, a lot can be accomplished by heeding some of their advice. And the great part about all of this is that it can be tailored to fit your own needs and goals. Here are 10 foods, which incorporated into your meals, will give you a good start to a healthier lifestyle. In the future, I’ll provide some of my favorite recipes using these foods. As with any change in nutrition or physical habits, check with your doctor to be sure what you’re doing is right for you.
Chicken, specifically boneless, skinless chicken breast, is one of the healthiest foods available and goes hand in hand with JYM pre workout. A favorite of competitive athletes of all types, it’s very high in protein to aid with muscle recovery and unbelievably low in fat. Chicken is a food that anyone performing vigorous exercise should eat plenty of.
One of the great things about chicken is that it can be prepared in so many ways. From Buffalo Chicken to chicken kabobs, there are many great options that can keep it bodybuilding friendly. Try it just coated in your favorite seasoning and baked if you like. Or for the more extravagant, make yourself some Thai Peanut Chicken with rice noodles.
Whether you like chunk light or albacore, tuna has many of the same nutritional characteristics of chicken, but also has omega-3 essential fatty acids which may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Canned tuna is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but for a real treat, stop at your local seafood market and purchase a tuna steak. You won’t believe how good it is.
Tuna can be prepared differently every day of the week. With canned tuna, I throw in an egg and some spices and make my own version of a tuna burger. Or, you can make the traditional tuna salad sandwich. Throw in lots of veggies and go easy on the mayo. But if you’re splurging on a tuna steak, coat it in Cajun Seasoning and fry it in a cast iron skillet and you’ll get the best blackened tuna you ever had. Eat it with a low-fat ranch dipping sauce and you’ll forget your kitchen isn’t a five-star restaurant.
3. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates and some vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B6 and magnesium. Carbohydrates are the body’s first source of energy and are critically important to endurance athletes of all kinds. In fact, many endurance athletes take part in a process called “carb loading” the night before competitions by eating large amounts of rice or pasta.
Rice is a versatile food and is popular in Mexican and Asian dishes in addition to being used as a side dish. I enjoy it with a little pasta sauce or even cooked inside a green pepper with a variety of spices. Often, I will cut up some prepared chicken into bite sized pieces and mix it with my rice to create a one-bowl meal. But however you prepare your rice, just know that it goes well with almost any other food.
Potatoes are another magical food high in complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals too. They’re almost completely devoid of fat and like the previously mentioned foods, they can be prepared in any number of ways. Fried, baked, or mashed, a meal just isn’t the same without delicious potatoes. Of course you can peel them, but for full flavor, leave the skin on.
I usually cook a 5 pound bag of potatoes at a time because it only takes me a couple of days to eat them, but feel free to prepare them in human-sized portions. For amazing mashed potatoes, simply dump in a healthy sized portion of garlic and chives before mashing them. For a slightly more unusual use, consider putting a layer of potatoes in the middle and/or on top of your favorite meatloaf recipe.
You’re probably thinking “bodybuilders don’t eat nuts”. But you’d be wrong. Some do. Nuts provide a healthy source of fats and eaten in moderation, can provide just enough unsaturated fat to keep your body running smoothly. A couple of good choices are almonds and walnuts.
Remember not to over-eat nuts unless you plan to climb trees like a squirrel to burn them off. They should be used as a snack and usually a small handful is sufficient. Feel free to throw a few in with your chicken or fish dishes and watch the flavor come out. I enjoy chopping up some pistachios and sprinkling them over scallops before baking them.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil and canola oil are two of the healthiest, most easily accessible oils around due to their relatively low saturated fat content. Although many bodybuilders try to stay away from oil altogether, when they do cook with oil, it’s usually olive. High in flavor, it can be used for everything from frying seafood to cooking on the grill. And with the different grades of olive oil such as virgin and extra-virgin, you can find the one you like best.
Like anything else, remember not to overdo oil, but if you must use some, olive oil is the way to go. My favorite uses include pan frying potatoes and fish. At finer Italian restaurants, you may see spices and grated cheese added to create a dipping sauce for freshly made bread.
Oh Broccoli, how I love thee. With twice the Vitamin C of an orange of the same weight, it’s a fresh-off-the-farm superfood. It also has a good bit of fiber and measurable amounts of over a dozen other vitamins and minerals. When it comes to vegetables, broccoli might just be world champion.
Broccoli can be added to the one bowl chicken and rice mentioned above or thrown into any pasta dish. If you’re eating it by itself, I recommend a fat-free Italian dressing or plain vinegar. My favorite way to eat it is added in liberal amounts to a salad with a large number of vegetables including multi-colored peppers. And if you’re one of those people who eats with their eyes, this pretty salad will taste fantastic.
Salsa – a bodybuilder’s food? It sure is. Bodybuilders deprive themselves of all kinds of food that they would otherwise love to eat if they weren’t competing. It becomes so mentally taxing at times that it can become completely unbearable and cause them to eat uncontrollably (this often does happen after a show when they no longer need to maintain a strict diet). But salsa can be used to prevent that to an extent. Salsa is relatively low in calories, as it contains mostly vegetables, and can be used to liven up what otherwise might be very bland food.
Salsa goes great on top of rice, chicken, fish, or even eggs. There are so many different types on the market at so many price levels that it can be hard to decide which ones to buy. Most important for some is to buy based on their ability to handle spicy food as salsas can range from mild to super hot. Some are made with beans and corn, while others go heavy on cilantro. My personal favorites are the Newman’s Own brand pineapple and peach salsas. I never thought that fruit would taste good in salsa until I tried them. They’re so good, in fact, that they are often sold out at my local grocery store. But no matter what salsa you prefer, know that you needn’t feel guilty eating it.
I mentioned garlic above in the section on potatoes, but garlic is a food that should be used extensively if you’re looking to get in shape. Aside from its purported heart health benefits, garlic is one of the ultimate spices. Its flavor is extremely strong and adds to any meal. Appropriate for use with every food above including nuts, garlic is another food that provides bodybuilders with lots of flavor without any real negative nutritional consequence.
Despite what some with sensitive taste buds say, I believe that a meal without garlic is like a day without air. Garlic chicken, garlic marinara sauce, and garlic green beans with almonds all make excellent dishes. And if you’ve ever had garlic ice cream, let me know how it is, because it’s about the only food I can’t imagine eating with garlic. No matter what your favorite dishes, try them with garlic and it will open up a whole new door to your cooking world.
I’m not sure if water officially qualifies as a food, but it is a staple of any bodybuilder’s diet. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, water is critical to health, and should be consumed on a consistent basis throughout every day. Some bodybuilders drink up to a few gallons per day. And while I don’t recommend drinking that much as it could potentially cause adverse health affects, proper hydration is very important.
An ideal amount of water consumption is typically thought to be anywhere from 8-16 cups of water per day depending on your size. And though this may seem like a lot, many people drink so little water that they may be in a constant state of dehydration. So keep that water bottle next to you and refill it frequently. And if you prefer, feel free to add a small amount of sugar-free drink mix to it.