Low Carb Bodybuilding
Even today, when the average Joe knows that too many carbs are bad news for body fat storage, there are still trainers and nutritionists who think that carbs are the end-all, be-all of energy sources for athletes and bodybuilders. Bull! Sure, some guys do great on high carbs – they get bigger, stronger, and leaner all at the same time. But for those with more average genetics, eating lots of carbs just doesn’t cut it when it comes to being muscular AND lean at the same time. Here are a few low-carb bodybuilding tips for eating great, getting stronger, and staying lean.
Buy in Bulk!
If you’re a bodybuilder, you might already be buying most of your food in mass quantities. If you’re lifting on low carbs, you can’t afford not to! Lower carbs means you’ll be eating more meat and more produce, by far the most expensive parts of any diet. If you’re not shopping at a bulk store or a very cheap, hippie kind of health food store, you’re throwing money away.
Fat Is Your Friend
Sometimes guys who start eating low-carb diets will forget that still need lots of energy. We’re building muscle here, remember – that takes TONS of energy! It’s got to come from somewhere, and man cannot live on protein alone. If you’re eating little or no starch in your diet, you’ve got to make up the difference with various forms of dietary fat.
One of the best ways to do this is to eat plenty of red meat, and not just the super-lean cuts, either. Your body may not handle carbohydrates well, but chances are that getting plenty of steak and pork in your diet will make you feel full and energized in the gym while staying lean. Keep that sirloin and top round in your diet, but don’t be afraid of some chuck steak or pork chops, as well.
Other great fatty foods are nuts, avocados, healthy oils, and my favorite, nut butters. You probably don’t want to go too crazy with peanut butter because it is very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, something most of us already get too much in our diets. Go with almond butter and cashew butter as often as possible. They are richer in Omega-3’s and they taste great.
Give Your Food Some Volume
If you’re like me, you’re a fatty at heart and just love to eat big meals. Whether you’re dieting or trying to get bigger, looking at nothing but a piece of meat or pile of eggs on your plate just plain sucks. The problem with eating low-carb, though, is that you don’t have that big starchy potato or pile of rice with most of your meals. The way to get around this problem without adding a gross amount of calories is to volumize your meals!
All this really means is that you use large quantities of vegetables and other low-calories produce in various ways that make your meal look and feel way bigger than the calorie content really is. Eat gigantic salads with meat and olive oil, scramble your eggs with tons of extra veggies, and make shakes that incorporate more veggies than fruits. If you’re creative and have a passion for cooking, you can even imitate starchy foods with nearly-starchless alternatives like almond flour, cauliflower, and the like.
Don’t Go Too Low…
Everyone’s body is different, and you’ll have to determine the level of carbohydrate intake which suits you best. With that being said, even the lifter with the worst genetics shouldn’t go on a completely starch-free or carb-free diet for long. If you’re already pretty lean, or if you’re more concerned with getting bigger than leaner, try having one starchy meal per day, right after your workout. If you’re pretty fat, try having one big carb-up meal every few days. Your muscle mass, glycogen stores, and sanity will thank you!