By Flex Staff
Everyone knows that nutrition can be the most critical element in your quest for a more muscular physique. You didn't think that monster pecs and wide-swept quads were built on cheeseburgers, did you? Check out 10 more of our best nutrition tips for getting a FLEX-worthy build, and visit us next Tuesday for 10 more.
41 TAKE CREATINE POSTWORKOUT
Take 3-5 g of creatine immediately after your workout -- the muscles you trained will absorb creatine at a faster-than-normal rate. Boost creatine retention in muscle (and get more out of this powerful supplement) by taking it with your postworkout shake. Take the rest of your daily creatine allotment (3-5 g) at another time of the day. This strategy may help speed the rate at which your muscles refuel with phosphocreatine.
42 TAKE GLUTAMINE POSTWORKOUT
Add a heaping teaspoon (5 g) of glutamine powder to your postworkout shake and take another 5 g before bed, especially if dieting. If you take more than 40 g daily, spread it out in 4-8, 5-10 g doses over the day. Glutamine has a muscle cell-volumizing effect that shuts down protein-destroying enzymes that become active when you're dieting, reducing muscle catabolism and helping you retain a pump even on a strict eating plan. Glutamine also nourishes muscle, gut and immune cells directly, reducing protein loss.
43 EAT A LARGE SOLID-FOOD MEAL IMMEDIATELY POSTWORKOUT
At FLEX, we think of the posttraining meal as two-tiered. First comes the liquid recovery drink (mentioned previously); second, an hour later, comes a large solid-food meal high in protein. If you're in a mass-building phase, you can consume a significant quantity of complex carbs at this meal (100 g or more) from such foods as rice, potatoes and pasta. If you're in a cutting phase, you're better off sticking to vegetables and smaller portions of slower-burning carbs such as brown rice or yams (25 to 50 g). In addition to breakfast, this is one of the most important meals of the day because it further recovery and enhances growth.
44 REDUCE CARBOHYDRATE CONSUMPTION AT LATER MEALS
Just as FLEX recommends that you take in most of your carbohydrates early in the day and around your workout, we also recommend that you taper off on carbohydrate consumption as the day progresses. Later in the day, especially after your postworkout meals, you have less need for energy-producing calories.
45 BOOST PROTEIN BEFORE BEDTIME
One of the best ways to prevent your body from tapping into muscle stores for energy is to take in a moderate amount of protein shortly before going to bed at night. Thirty to 50 grams of protein, consumed before going to sleep, will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to repair and build muscles. A protein shake is ideal before bedtime, ideally one that is casein based since it will digest more slowly. Lean meats, nuts and seeds are reasonable alternatives.
46 TIME MINERAL SUPPLEMENT INTAKE
It's important to consider the timing of some mineral supplements. Calcium can interfere with the absorption of zinc, magnesium and other minerals. To avoid this, take ZMA (zinc and magnesium) before going to bed, preferably on an empty stomach. Take calcium with a solid-food meal earlier in the day -- breakfast is ideal.
47 FORCE-FEED DURING MASS-BUILDING CYCLES
If you want to add size, you have to eat. Of course, you need to emphasize quality bodybuilding foods such as chicken, lean red meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, rice and potatoes, but you can also use foods and supplements that are easier to get down. This is an excellent time to consume mass-gaining beverages such as protein shakes (with or without carbs). You can even add an occasional quart of nonfat milk to your diet. Liquids make it easier for you to take in the calories you need for adding bodyweight.
48 KEEP CALORIES MODERATE WHILE STRIPPING BODYFAT
Often, bodybuilders make the mistake of reducing calories too drastically when they try to cut bodyfat. With too few calories, the body turns to available energy sources, and one of those is muscle mass, which is broken down to use for energy. Bodybuilders should avoid this. If you normally eat 3,000 calories for bodyweight maintenance, you should only reduce calories to 2,700 or 2,500 for bodyfat reduction. Going lower can reduce muscle mass in addition to bodyfat.
49 KEEP FOOD VOLUME UP WHILE DIETING DOWN
While maintaining moderate caloric intake, you should also eat bulky foods. Foods such as vegetables are high in volume but low in calories. (They're also dense in nutrients.) Bulky foods help keep you full and help your body process the high-protein meals associated with body fat cutting phases. Eating plenty of protein and avoiding feelings of hunger are important aspects of maintaining muscle mass while stripping bodyfat.
50 NEVER GO HUNGRY
Bodybuilders, even those on bodyfat reduction diets, should learn to use the feeling of hunger as a warning sign of the need for food energy. Hunger means that your body is tapping into your muscle stores and burning them as energy. If you're in a bodyfat-stripping phase, eat basic bodybuilding foods high in protein and complex carbs when you feel hungry. If you're in a mass-gaining phase, you have a little more latitude -- take in the foods that serve your current needs, keeping your protein requirements in mind.