Recently we went back over the last decade and shared 50 training tricks of the trade from a wide range of pro bodybuilders. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and there were inquiries as to whether we could possibly do the same thing with nutrition information. Since nutrition is equally if not more critical toward your ultimate success in reaching your personal physique goals, we would certainly be remiss if we didn’t! Here then, if you will pardon the McGough-esque pun, is a veritable smorgasbord of nutritional knowledge straight from some of the best bodybuilders in the sport, past and present. In the first of a three part series we highlight the first 17 training secrets. Part 2 will be posted on Monday, October 24,and Part 3 will be posted Monday, October 31.
1. Jay Cutler
Should you add in junk food to make gains if you have a fast metabolism, and you’re either not gaining anymore or not gaining as quickly as you’d like? I do know about the whole fast metabolism thing, because I had a hard time making gains unless I had a couple of “cheat meals” a week, which for me would be burgers. I’ve never been a big junk food eater. My family never had it around, so I never developed a taste for it. But yes, you could benefit from having fast food two to five times a week if you’re craving it. It might be the only way you can get all the calories you need. Try it and see how it works. Just make sure you are also still getting in plenty of good, quality food.
2. Dorian Yates
To gain muscular bodyweight, you must consistently take in enough calories to support growth. Just as you shouldn’t miss workouts, missing meals is a no-no and will definitely slow your progress. I always thought of my meals in terms of building a house. Every day, I was laying more and more bricks down. Just as training heavy and hard over time yields significant results, so does eating quality food, day after day. Treat your eating just as seriously as you do your training.
3. Ronnie Coleman
I preferred meals after my workouts instead of shakes because of the way I trained. My workouts were so long and took so much out of me that I would be starving by the end. A shake just wouldn’t cut it for me. I needed a big steak or a couple of big chicken breasts, and a big baked potato or a plate of rice. Once I got that meal down, I felt so much better. But shakes work real good for a lot of guys, too. Plenty of pros today have a shake right after they finish the workout and then eat a meal about an hour later. I don’t think one way is better than the other. The important thing is feeding the body after you beat the hell out of it.
4. Lee Haney
You can’t train like a horse and eat like a bird. You can, but you sure won’t get much bigger or stronger unless you provide your body with the building blocks it requires to synthesize new muscle tissue. Some people shy away from assigning percentages, but I’ll put it out there: nutrition is 75 percent of the equation for bodybuilding success. I recommend a diet that’s roughly 30-35 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 10-15 percent healthy fats.
5. Dexter Jackson
I’ve been drinking shakes all the way up to the show for my whole career. What’s so bad about shakes? They’re just food in liquid form. If you are careful and get a protein powder with little or no sugar, I see no reason why you couldn’t include it as part of your contest diet along with solid meals. I seem to remember Lee Labrada, at one point near the end of his career, was only eating one solid meal a day and the rest were all shakes— and don’t even try to tell me that dude wasn’t shredded every time he competed! Food does help keep you looking and feeling fuller, but shakes are a great way to get all your protein in. I know I can’t live without them.
6. Rich Gaspari
There is a huge difference between longer-chain carbs like sweet potatoes and highly refined carbs like white bread, candy and kids’ cereals. The shorter-chain, refined carbs break down much faster and cause huge insulin spikes that lead to higher body fat stores, whereas the longer-chain carb sources break down more slowly and are stored as glycogen in the liver and the muscles.
7. Evan Centopani
My pre-contest cheat meal is usually three double hamburgers, fries and a Coke. I do that once a week or more. Off-season, it’s usually once or twice a week. Pre-contest, it can be anywhere from one to four. If necessary, I’d have one as close as a week out from the show. I think that cheating should be thought of as a means to further your progress rather than an opportunity to indulge. That being said, I don’t believe in scheduling “cheat” meals. You need them when you need them. That can mean one a week or three a week. It can mean three in one day, if necessary.
8. Branch Warren
For my prep, I have always done cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I think as long as you have a good meal before you go to bed the night before, maybe something with some fat in it like steak, you don’t have to worry too much about losing any muscle while you sleep or do your morning cardio.
9. Victor Martinez
Drinking two gallons of water a day is ridiculous unless you’re walking around the desert. The only time that would make sense otherwise is if you were carbing-up before a contest and wanted to make sure you had plenty of fluids in your body before you started cutting water. A gallon a day should be plenty. You don’t ever want to be feeling very thirsty, but if you need to pee every 15 minutes, that tells you that your body doesn’t need all that water.
10. Hide Yamagishi
Losing fat is a matter of taking in fewer calories than you burn, and you can include fruit in your diet. I have low- and high-carb days on my diet, and on the higher days I have blueberries and strawberries in the morning, and sometimes I eat an apple later, too. I still get into great condition. You probably shouldn’t have any more fruit than that, but it’s OK to eat small amounts.