Back in the mid ‘90s, I heard an interview of Dr. Scott Connelly (creator of Met-RX) by author Bill Philips (of later ‘Body for Life’ fame). Toward the end of the exchange, Philips asked Dr. Connelly what he thought was the one best bodybuilding food – if there were one. Without explaining his reasons (at least so far as I can remember), the M.D.-turned-supplement-creator answered: “cottage cheese.”
In the category of ‘best foods for bodybuilding’, I’d agree with cottage cheese being ranked pretty high. It’s got a lot of quality protein per serving and about 35% fat and 21% carbohydrate for each gram of that protein. That’s a nice little muscle-building formula.
Of course, nobody is advocating a cottage cheese-only diet; just pointing out a powerful muscle-builder to add as a staple in a well-balanced diet.
The 'best foods for bodybuilding' can help make one-time heavy weights feel like lighter ones.
Rather than bore you with the same list of “best foods for bodybuilding” that you see everywhere else, I’ll give you some of my current favorites. I’ll also give you a reason beside each one for it being on my ‘favorites’ list:
Beef: I thought I’d start off with a somewhat contrarian viewpoint right out of the gate. Yes – there are some other proponents of beef-eating within the ranks of bodybuilding nutrition advisors; but not enough in my opinion. Beef still gets a bad rap among those who’d have us nibbling on sushi to get ripped, healthy and striated. But lean cuts of this stuff (without overdoing it) seem to build strength – which can translate to muscle mass. I eat quite a bit of lean beef to build muscle, while keeping an eye on my cholesterol levels for good measure.
Of course, if your doc advises you to avoid it due to cholesterol dangers, then don’t indulge.
Russian Rye Bread (by Oroweat): I’m a busy person who lives on the run. For this reason, sandwiches are a must. The challenge, however, is making a sandwich that isn’t a fat promoting slab of starch while not having to resort to bread that tastes like cardboard. Russian Rye bread by Oroweat (or a similar rye bread) is terrific for this. It’s tasty, with only 80 calories per slice, one gram of sugar, and 13 grams of energy-producing carbohydrates. I put a lot of lean turkey or chicken between these slices with some lettuce and thick slices of tomato. The moistness of the heavily added tomatoes prevents me from having to add condiments – which are usually heavy with sugar.
Egg Whites: Okay, so this is definitely on every ‘best foods for bodybuilding’ list. That’s because it’s a terrific muscle building protein, long-touted as the food with the best protein efficiency ratio (PER). The thing you’ll find refreshing about my advice in eating egg whites is that I won’t recommend eating them without any yolk. In fact, what works well is to eat a few egg whites with two or three whole eggs mixed in – yolk and all.
We need some fat in our diets to actually stay lean, muscular, and healthy. Cholesterol provides the building blocks for testosterone production (among other things). So, include a couple egg yolks within that egg white omelet.
Oatmeal: This falls under the category of whole grain carbohydrates. Brown rice also falls into this category and is a terrific bodybuilding carbohydrate food. However, I prefer oatmeal out of the two because it’s just plain tastier. Maybe it’s because the oatmeal has a negligible one gram of sugar in its typical serving size. Whatever the reason, I find oatmeal comparatively easy to eat over the long-term while a one-cup serving (pre-cooked) provides sustained energy for demanding workouts.
Chicken Breast: Nothing out of the ordinary here, but it has to be mentioned. When you strip the skin off of this part of the chicken, you can’t get a more protein packed (24 grams per 3oz.) and fat reduced (1.5 grams per 3oz.) piece of food. It’s great for when you decide to cut calories while keeping protein high for a more muscularly “shredded” appearance.
Broccoli: This super-fibrous, cruciferous vegetable is the best I’ve observed within that category for bodybuilding. It contains a phytochemical called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). This stuff helps the body rid itself of excess estrogen, which is how it can indirectly increase testosterone. Broccoli is also a great source of calcium, high levels of which have been shown to inhibit calcitriol. Since calcitriol has been shown to promote lipogenesis (fat storage), it’s a good idea to get plenty of calcium to negate the effect of calcitriol and promote lipolysis (the breakdown of fat stored in fat cells) instead.
With its double-benefit for bodybuilding, broccoli gets my vote of “super veggie” among ‘best foods for bodybuilding.’
Black Beans: Legumes are an important ingredient in a healthy bodybuilding diet, and black beans are my favorite. Try to stay away from the canned variety because they’re usually produced with sugar and other “empty calories.” If prepared fresh, legumes are definitely in the best foods for bodybuilding list due to their high fiber and low glycemic energy boost.
In short, the best foods for bodybuilding are reasonably lean animal sources for protein and whole grains, fibrous vegetables, and legumes for carbohydrates. We’ll revisit this topic later so as to add more variety to the outstanding choices above.