Lifters aren’t always known for thinking outside of the Tupperware box when it comes to their diet.
Since the days of Dorian Yates, chicken breast, egg whites, brown rice and broccoli have been the stereotypical lifting foods, and few have dared to stray too far from that path (why reinvent the wheel if the wheel has a 60 inch chest?)
Sure lifters love routine, but cramming containers with chicken and rice every day can lead to nutritional deficiencies, as well as something called sensory specific satiety, a term used to describe the ‘decline in pleasantness associated with a food as it is eaten relative to a food that has not been eaten’ (in other words: if every day was cheat day, pizza would quickly lose its appeal).
There’s a wide world out there full of bodybuilding-friendly foods with massive macro-nutrient benefits, but many lifters rarely scratch the surface. Okay, maybe you’ve thought about substituting turkey breast for chicken, but what about beef liver bolognese? Instead of beef mince and broccoli, how about a plate of oysters with a side of edamame for your next post-workout meal?
The best part is, these fitness foods only need to be consumed once a week because of the copious amounts of micro-nutrients they offer.
So upgrade your lifting lunches and check out these five unheralded heroes of bodybuilding nutrition.
If the thought of ingesting innards doesn’t make you recoil in terror, keep reading. In the golden era of bodybuilding, lifters like Arnie and Frank Zane snacked on liver tabs like they were going out of fashion. As it turns out, they did, with liver disappearing from mainstream lifting diets for decades. But old doesn’t mean obsolete, and liver is still pound for pound one of the best bodybuilding foods around. A 100 gram serving of beef liver contains 988% of your daily Vitamin B12, an essential micronutrient which improves energy production, amino acid and DNA synthesis. Deficiencies in B12 can wreak havoc on your workouts, which is why beef liver could be your secret nutritional weapon to take your lifting to the next level.
When you hear the word ‘superfood’, kale, quinoa and acai berries are usually the first things which spring to mind. But what about the humble sardine? Turns out that salty, scaly seafood on your pizza is actually some of the best fitness fare around, with an excellent nutritional profile. Not only are sardines a protein heavyweight, but they’re also rich in Omega 3s, which help improve muscle soreness and reduce inflammation following those brutal leg workouts. Sardines also contain 75% of your RDI of selenium, an important trace mineral that has been shown to boost the immune system and protect your body from free radicals (groups of atoms that can damage living cells and tissue)
Making bone broth is a labor of love, but the nutritional benefits are more than worth it. By cooking those beef or chicken bones for 24-48 hours, you can extract the minerals and nutrients as well as the collagen, which is the body’s main structural protein, comprising around 25-35% of the body’s entire protein content. Consuming collagen also stimulates collagen synthesis, which helps with bone and joint issues, and inflammation.
This sushi bar staple is a nutritional star! With 22 grams per cup, edamame is rich in soy proteins. However, where edamame truly shines is with its leucine content. For serious lifters, leucine is the most important of the amino acids, with its ability to stimulate skeletal muscle synthesis ten times greater than any of the other branch block amino acids
You typical date note dozen delivers a vitamin and mineral payload, with a batch of Pacific Oysters containing 56 grams of protein, while being super rich in Zinc, an essential mineral which many athletes and lifters tend to be deficient in. Zinc is vital for growth, immune function and maintaining healthy testosterone levels, which is why these classy crustaceans should be part of your bodybuilding diet.