ARTICLE: The History of Nutrition (supplements & Steroids) in Bodybuilding
- 01-29-2008, 04:14 AM
ARTICLE: The History of Nutrition (supplements & Steroids) in Bodybuilding
Splendid Specimens: The History of Nutrition in Bodybuilding By Randy Roach
The sport called bodybuilding demands the ex-treme in
body presentation. No other athletic endeavor requires such high levels
of regimentation for muscle development and body fat reduction. To outsiders,
such efforts may appear vain and self-centered, even looming out there
on the lunatic fringe. Nevertheless, the sport has had considerable
influence on other fields of athletics, not to mention the general public.
We must remember that the men (and women) who sweat it out in the
gym year after year were using the low-carbohydrate diet long before
Dr. Atkins made it popular. Many other dietary strategies of today such
as all-raw diets, protein supplementation, eating multiple small meals
a day, carbohydrate loading, meal replacement packages and macro-nutrient
balancing all derived their initial popularity from the bodybuilding
Credit for the Physical Culture movement in North America, the precursor
to the bodybuilding movement, goes to Bernarr Macfadden, an extraordinary
entrepreneur who published physical culture magazines, organized physique
competitions, wrote 150 books and accumulated millions in the publishing
industry. Macfadden preached clean living and whole natural foods. He
ate vast quantities of raw carrots, beet juice, fruits, dates, raisins,
grains and nuts. He abstained from meat but recommended copious amounts
of raw milk. In fact he even recommended an exclusive raw milk diet
for extended periods.
The dominant star of the early years was Eugen Sandow, whose career
spanned the late 1890s and the early part of the 20th century. He did
not display the typical burly brute image, but a finely chiseled body,
resembling those of Roman and Greek athletes. With the help of Florenz
Ziegfeld, he marketed and displayed his physique in artistic fashion.
In fact, it was through this artistic expression that Sandow inspired
Macfadden in the mid 1890s. In an 1894 interview on his dietary habits,
Sandow claimed to abstain from hard liquor, coffee and tea, but consumed
the occasional beer. He ate mostly wholesome foods, but indulged at
selected opportunities. Sandow, along with most of the other Physical
Culturists of his day, placed more emphasis on the mechanical aspects
of diet as opposed to the chemical. He believed in doing what was necessary
to facilitate good digestion, including eating at regular intervals,
selecting simple foods, applying thorough mastication, eating slowly
and tying it all together with a good night's sleep. He was critical
of over-indulgence and recommended foods with a high nutrient value,
although he admitted to eating what he wanted, when he wanted, and however
much he wanted during his younger years.
Earle Liederman, author and friend of Sandow, also advocated whole
natural foods. Liederman pointed out the importance of a strong digestive
system enhanced by proper food mastication for men of strength and large
appetites. He described the popularity of "beef juice" or
"beef extract" for rapid muscle recovery. Liederman also
felt obliged to mention that ice cream was very popular, referring to
one lifter who often felt it necessary to finish his meals with a quart
of vanilla ice cream.
Arthur Saxon of the famous Saxon brothers trio and a contemporary
of Eugen Sandow, also recommended nutrient-dense foods for endurance
athletes. He warned against the dangers of hard liquor, but condoned
beer. In fact, Saxon had a reputation for hefty beer drinking as did
many men of strength of the time. He warned against smoking while admitting
to being a smoker himself. For gaining muscle, Saxon recommended milk
mixed with raw egg after a workout, milk with oatmeal, cheese, beans,
peas, and meat. He called milk the perfect food.
According to his brother Kurt, all three of the Saxon brothers had
very hardy appetites. Along with his participation in the strength act,
Kurt was also the trio's chef. Kurt's list of food consumed
by the three brothers each day indicates substantial daily intake, with
little self-denial. Milk is largely absent from Kurt's menus.
RAW VERSUS COOKED
A debate that has been on-going since the early days of Physical Culture
is the relative virtues of raw food versus cooked. Sandow referred to
the eating of raw eggs and under-cooked meats as nonsense and a practice
that was "passing away."
In the raw food corner was champion wrestler George Hackenschmidt,
the "Russian Lion," a man rivaling Sandow's strength,
and surpassing him in athletic ability. Like Sandow, he was small by
today's standards, standing just under 5'10" and weighing
about 200 pounds. However, he was enormously strong. Both a gentleman
and sportsman, George Hackenschmidt reflected a spiritually conservative
philosophy towards nutrition. In his book The Way to Life,
"I believe I am right in asserting that our creator has provided
food and nutriment for every being for its own advantage. Man is born
without frying-pan or stewpot. The purest natural food for human beings
would, therefore, be fresh, uncooked food and nuts." He stated
that a diet of three quarters vegetable food and one quarter meat would
appear to be most satisfactory for the people of central Europe but
conceded a hardy appetite which, in his early training years, was based
on 11 pints of milk per day, presumably raw, along with the rest of
his diet. A prophet before his time, he warned about the dangers of
refined sugar and meat from artificially fed and confined animals. He
believed that most people ate too much flesh food from these improperly
raised animals and encouraged more emphasis on natural raw foods.
The early bodybuilders also debated the pros and cons of vegetarianism.
Macfadden and Hackenschmidt inclined towards diets that excluded meat,
or that at least derived a preponderence of calories from plant foods.
Juicing was popular among some. In his book Remembering Muscle Beach,
Harold Zinkin describes fellow beach comrade Relna Brewer. At 17, Brewer
worked in one of California's first health food stores, located
in Santa Monica. Relna's job was to run the juice press. Because
the owners of the store could not afford to pay much, Relna took out
her pay in the celery, watermelon, orange and carrot juice she made
Jack Lalanne was probably one of Relna's customers. Jack began
his carreer as a vegetarian, bringing his own food, such as apple or
carrot juice and vegetables, to train at the beach during the 1930s.
However, Lalanne later ate meat when focussed on bodybuilding. In fact,
Armand Tanny says that Jack would visit the local stockyards to acquire
cow's blood to drink while in training. Later Lalanne reverted
back to his vegetarian ways, but allowing some fish and eggs.
Lalanne opened one of the first health studios in Oakland in 1936.
A colleague writes that Lalanne would work 14 hours a day then drive
through the night 400 miles so he could be with the gang at Muscle Beach
to participate in all the activities. When it came to pure energy and
vitality, Lalanne was, and at 90 today, still is unbridled.
Another vegetarian was Lionel Strongfort who promoted a system of
raw foods based on fruits, vegetables, eggs and milk. He recommended
very little meat and cooked fat. Strongfort suggested eating only two
meals a day, a strategy shared by Macfadden that would re-emerge in
the 60s and 70s. Strongfort and Macfadden both advised against overconsumption
of food. They claimed overconsumption created a negative stress on the
body's systems, sensible advice that bodybuilding publications
would ignore in the coming years.
Perhaps the most accepted food across all the early eating models
for bodybuilders was milk. One of the most popular protocols for building
size and strength was the combination of back squatting and drinking
large quantities of milk. Joseph Curtis Hise was a pioneer of this system
in the 1930s and after 70 years this strategy is still going strong
in the drug-free world of bodybuilding.
Another Physical Culturalist who advised against over-consumption
was Tony Sansone, but Sansone understood the importance of flesh foods,
including animal fats and organ meats. He wrote extensively on nutrition
for bodybuilders and recommended nutrient-dense "foundation"
foods such as milk, eggs, butter, meat, vegetables, fruits, and some
whole grains, in that order. He also stressed the importance of organ
meats such as liver, kidney, heart and cod liver oil and recognized
the need to drink whole raw milk instead of pasteurized and skimmed.
He believed goats milk was more nutritious and easily digested than
cows milk. Fresh butter and cream were his preferred fats. He also recommended
six to eight glasses of water per day.
Tony Sansone wisely stressed the importance of generous amounts of
fat in the diet to allow the complete utilization of nitrogenous (protein)
foods in building muscle tissue--a fundamental and important fact
that would be lost as the era of protein supplements took hold. He also
knew that weight loss was not a matter of simple calorie counting, as
cellular uptake or utilization of food varied on an individual basis.
In anticipation of Dr. Atkins, Sansone recommended his foundation foods
of milk, eggs, meat, vegetables and fruit for strength and health, and
starchy foods as weight manipulators. His recipe for gaining weight
was to add more high-carbohydrate foods such as bread and potatoes to
the diet, and for losing weight to simply reduce or remove them. Tony
Sansone's caveat to lose no more than two pounds of fat per week
is still the standard used in bodybuilding today.
- 01-29-2008, 04:16 AM
Muscle Beach got its start in the 1930s as the meeting place of young
athletes who lifted weights, built human pyramids, tumbled, juggled
and engaged in any other athletic endeavor they could think of. That
era gave us many recognizable names such as Harold Zinkin (creator of
the Universal weight machine), Joe Gold (creator of Golds Gym), Jack
Lalanne, Harry Smith, and the Tanny brothers, Armand and Vic (who created
a popular gymnasium chain). In fact, it is safe to say that much of
the fitness industry grew out of Muscle Beach--gyms, gym chains,
TV exercise programs, fitness equipment, women lifting weights, even
aspects of the natural organic food movement stemmed from this small
stretch of sand.
According to Harry Smith, long-time gym owner, ex-pro wrestler and
Muscle Beach alumnus, body builders didn't think much about specialty
food or supplements in those days. The emphasis was on training rather
than eating and resting. Harry did state that many of them tried to
keep their eating clean, and that on a number of occasions they would
frequent a small deli about one-half block from the beach. The deli
offered freshly ground beef to which some of the guys would mix some
raw onions and a little salt and pepper. The meat was eaten raw along
with raw milk. Harry said it was a cheap and easy way to eat hardy and
keep out of the restaurants.
One important Muscle Beach raw food enthusiast was Armand Tanny. Originally
a weightlifter, Armand had a fantastic physique and the strength to
qualify him for the wrestling circuit. He visited the Hawaiian Islands
just after the Second World War and came away with a lasting impression
of the Samoans. "They ate everything raw," he noted. "You
name it, fish, meat, beetles--everything! They were so strong and
healthy." On his return to the US, he became interested in the
work of Weston A. Price, stating that Price's book Nutrition
And Physical Degeneration served as his Bible.
In 1948 he shut off his stove and ate just about everything raw from
then on--tuna, beef, liver, lobster, oysters, clams, nuts, seeds,
fruits and vegetables. Armand recalls wading out into the surf along
the Santa Monica Pier and using his feet to kick up 6- to 7-inch Pismo
clams, smashing them together to get at the pink and white flesh. Armand
also took brewer's yeast, desiccated liver, yogurt, black strap
molasses and wheat germ oil, all recommendations of Gaylord Hauser,
a nutritional guru of the era. Hauser also recommended fish liver oil,
but Tanny felt he was getting plenty from all the raw fish he was consuming.
Armand credited his 1950 Mr. USA and the Pro Mr. America titles to
his raw meat diet. In the 1950s, he helped his brother Vic in the gym
business and appeared in a Mae West act. His bodybuilding articles appeared
prominently in bodybuilding publications for the remainder of the century,
thus providing a link to Weston Price during the decade of the 50s.
BULKING UP WITH JOHN GRIMEK
The biggest influence on bodybuilding in the 1930s and 1940s was John
Grimek, the second American Athletics Union (AAU) Mr. America and the
first to win back-to-back titles, in 1940 and 1941. Many commentators
believe that Grimek represents the beginning of modern bodybuilding
as we know it today, describing him as the best physique of the mid
During the early 1930s, at the start of his career, Grimek came under
the influence of Mark Berry, editor of Strength magazine and
an advocate of an eating protocol in which an athlete would bulk up
in bodyweight and then train it off. At one point, Berry had Grimek
beef up his 5' 8" frame to 250 pounds. The practice would
become commonplace by the 1950s and maintain a foothold for several
Grimek bulked up on whatever was put in front of him, reports his
wife Angela in a 1956 Health and Strength article entitled
"Life with John." "John has an enormous appetite.
. . John has yet to find a restaurant that can do justice to his appetite.
. . . Sometimes he goes on a restricted diet--and it is surprising
how little he can get by on then. But when he goes all out, he can never
be filled. . . . but the ‘hog' (our pet name for John) just
eats and eats and still remains trim and muscular."
By the 1950s, Grimek's diet included Hershey chocolate bars
and hi-protein tablets manufactured and promoted by Bob Hoffman, publisher
of Strength and Health, a magazine that provided a platform
for Grimek along with the new-fangled supplements coming on the market.
Hoffman used Hershey chocolate in his products, so Grimek and the rest
of the York gang had easy access to some empty calories.
PROTEIN POWDERS AND SUPPLEMENTS
In the late 1930s a young pharmacist named Eugene Schiff developed
a method of processing whey from milk for human consumption. He created
Schiff Bio-Foods, a whey packaging company. This was a half century
before whey concentrates would emerge as a popular supplement in the
bodybuilding scene. For a short time he sold his packaged whey to local
drug stores, then sold his own store to enter into the manufacturing
and packaging of health foods.
Schiff focused on supplements made from natural products. He began
to experiment with whole foods such as brewer's yeast, wheat germ
and liver. He found that these foods were naturally rich in vitamins
and minerals. The Schiff company claims that he was first to discover
that rose hips was a superior source of vitamin C. Along with the first
rose hip vitamin C supplement, he also launched one of the first multi-vitamin
products, called "V-Complete."
The demand during World War II for non-perishable foods allowed the
food industry to expand and popularize the market for powdered or dehydrated
foods and bodybuilders would eventually find their way into this market.
Powdered milk and eggs, and later powdered soy protein, were promoted
as an easy way to get additional protein into the diet. Breakfast drinks
based on a protein powder emerged into the diet of the legendary Steve
Reeves who years later wrote about this practice in his book Building
The Classic Physique. Reeves' impressive natural physique
landed him starring roles in the films Hercules and Hercules
Unchained in the late 1950s and inspired thousands of young men
to adopt weight training. His recipe for a breakfast drink included
fresh orange juice, Knox gelatin, honey, banana, raw eggs and a blend
of skim milk, egg white and soy protein.
The first protein powders "tailored" specifically for
athletes appeared around 1950. One of these was called 44, "The
Supplemental Food Beverage," produced in California by a company
called Kevo Products. The principle ingredient was dehydrated powdered
whole soy beans, along with kelp, wheat germ, dextrose, and various
dehydrated plants, herbs and flavorings. The supplement was sold at
health food stores, body-building studios, and health institutes.
Another popular product was Hi-Protein, "a protein food supplement
derived from soya flour, milk proteins, and wheat. The free amino acids
which include natural tryptophan and the other natural essential amino
acids where produced by an acid hydrolysis." The product was developed
by bodybuilder and nutrition guru Irvin Johnson with before and after
photographs of weaklings turned musclemen. Bob Hoffman quickly capitalized
on Johnson's success by following immediately with his own soy-based
product marketed heavily in Strength and Health. Hoffman's
infamous protein claimed many a victim with hives or gym-clearing gas.
The debates on raw versus cooked and vegetarianism versus meat eating
that appeared in bodybuilding magazines during the 1940s gave way to
numerous articles on protein supplements in the 1950s, including "Building
Biceps Faster With Food Supplements (Iron Man, December 1950,"
"More and Better Protein Will Keep you Well (Strength &
Health, March 1953)," "The Magical Power Of Protein
(Mr. America, February 1958)," "Food Supplements
Build Rock Hard Definition (Muscle Builder, June 1958)"
and "Everyone Needs More Protein (Strength & Health,
Meal replacement products also appeared during the 1950s, with much
hype. One product, called B-FIT, was recommended as a replacement for
two or three regular meals per day. According to its promoters, B-FIT
"is scientifically formulated to contain all the needed vitamins
and minerals, plus ample supplies of the effective proteins and yet
is so low in calories that the fatty tissue literally melts away. .
. . You will not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies because B-FIT
is a complete food insofar as scientific experiment and research is
possible to develop. Approved by dieticians."
Advocates for new diet theories--food combining, alkaline-forming
diets, even strict vegetarianism--promoted their ideas throughout
the 1950s, but the big emphasis was on protein powders and supplements.
For the 1954 world weightlifting championships, team coach Bob Hoffman
hauled more than 100 pounds of his Hi Protein powder to Vienna, hailing
it as the "secret weapon" for his athletes. But Russia,
whose athletes finished no lower than second place, had a secret weapon
of their own.
THE SECRET WEAPON
It was John Ziegler, a doctor accompanying the American team to Vienna,
who exposed just what this Soviet weapon was. Ziegler claimed that after
a few drinks, a Russian doctor told him that the Soviet athletes were
using--and abusing--testosterone. Ziegler was no stranger
to testosterone. With his background in rehabilitation therapy and his
connection with CIBA Pharmaceuticals, he was already experimenting with
testosterone on himself, his patients and some novice athletes. In fact,
author and historian John Fair writes that even the great John Grimek
was cooperating with Ziegler and trying his drugs in the summer of 1954.
Grimek reported disappointing results.
Both American and German research scientists had identified testosterone
and noted its effects as far back as the mid 1930s. CIBA Pharmaceuticals
was already targeting bodybuilders with ads for synthetic testosterone
in 1947. With Ziegler's help, CIBA manufactured the most popular
anabolic steroid of the 20th century. The drug was Dianabol, which came
The acceptance of steroid drugs among bodybuilders got off to a slow
start. Drinking a gallon of milk or swallowing 2000 protein pills seemed
more logical to them than taking a tiny pill to do the job. Even those
who did take them were slow in accepting or acknowledging the fact that
it was the steroids that were giving them such tremendous gains in muscle
Out on the West Coast, bodybuilding great Bill Pearl was also curious
as to what the Russians were doing, so he took it upon himself to do
his own research. During a visit to the University of California at
Davis in 1958, he learned from a veterinarian about the successful use
of steroids in beefing up cattle. Bill figured that if it was good enough
for a bull, then it was good enough for him. While continuing to train
hard, he took 30 mg of the steroid drug Nilevar (three times the recommended
dose for humans, but an absolute joke by today's practices) for
12 weeks and brought his bodyweight up from 225 to 250 pounds.
Steroid use among athletes paralleled the challenge to conservative
moral standards that characterized the era of the 1960s. It was a time
that seemed ripe for the liberation of one's desires. Individual
freedoms took precedence over the rules, morals and ethics dictated
by a long established culture--and by Mother Nature. If the new
generation could take mind-altering drugs, it could take body-altering
drugs as well. Anabolic ("building-up") steroids such as
testosterone ushered in a new bodybuilding look that was larger and
more muscularly pronounced than ever before.
During the early 1960s, the magazines emphasized caution about steroids.
They acknowledged the rumors concerning Bill Pearl and others but tried
to steer their readers away by stating that the drugs didn't work,
wouldn't produce what bodybuilders expected, or were outright
dangerous. Both Iron Man and Muscle Builder magazines
warned of side effects and published articles claiming much better results
with high-protein products. But behind the scenes, the athletes knew
that they worked. Pearl openly acknowledged that he used them for a
final time in 1961 to prepare for the 1961 National Amateur Bodybuilding
Association (NABBA) Mr. Universe contest. He stated that the drugs by
then were no longer underground but well known to the top bodybuilders.
STEROIDS AND CREAM
Still, most athletes relied on diet for strength-building, and protein
occupied a large percentage of that diet. In the early 1960s, Irving
Johnson targeted elite bodybuilders with a milk-and-egg protein blend
considered far superior to competing products--including an earlier
product of his own--based on soy. By the mid 60s, ads for Johnson's
protein blend began appearing in the bodybuilding magazines. At that
time he changed his name to Rheo H. Blair. Blair claimed that his protein
powder was made from milk and eggs obtained from animals raised on the
rich soil of Wisconsin and that the proteins were extracted at very
low temperatures. Wary of the difficulty some might have digesting all
that protein, he endorsed hydrochloric acid supplements, to be taken
with any protein meal. He also sold supplements such as amino acids,
liver extract, B-complex and soybro (a combination of wheat germ, rice
germ and soy germ oils). In 1966 he introduced a new protein formula
which he claimed had a biological value resembling mother's milk.
Blair promoted his products with skillful salesmanship but he also
made an important suggestion that would ensure that his products actually
worked--he insisted that his protein be taken with raw cream or
half and half. He was smart enough to know that you must replace the
fat removed from protein during processing. He also recognized the benefits
of raw dairy products. Athletes of the 1960s used a variety of recipes,
varying the proportions of Blair's protein product with raw cream,
raw milk and raw egg yolk. Weight-trainer Don Howorth remembers eating
3 dozen eggs, 1 quart raw cream, and 2 pounds ground sirloin along with
2-3 cups of Blair's protein powder per day.
Blair had a special method for cooking his eggs. He did not cook them
in boiling water but recommended cooking many eggs at one time in water
maintained at 181 degrees for 31 minutes. The eggs were then left in
the water to cool down slowly. Blair claimed that putting the eggs under
cold water "shocked" many of the nutrients, rendering them
ineffective and that cooking eggs in this fashion preserved much of
their nutritional value.
It is interesting to read Perry Rader's "Reader Roundup"
column in his Iron Man magazine during this time. He tries
to explain the spectacular gains made by some of the popular bodybuilders
who were using Blair's products. Many of them were eating 6000
to 9000 calories a day in the same fashion as Don Howorth and gaining
muscle while maintaining or even trimming their waist size. Rader published
Blair's response in a 1966 issue of Iron Man. Blair claimed
that his protein powders, along with all of his other supplements, were
formulated in a special manner to metabolize fat more efficiently. He
also warned that taking cream with any protein powder other than his
own would result in fat accumulation.
But Blair could not help knowing that these dramatic results were
not achieved on food and protein powders alone. Bodybuilders knew that
they could expect to build muscle consuming 8000 calories per day, but
not lose fat at the same time. That required some additional anabolic
assistance. Blair knew his guys were taking steroids. Don Howorth readily
admitted his past use of Dianabol, but was adamant about the importance
of diet along with it. In fact, some bodybuilders were quite open about
drugs. When Larry Scott, two-time winner of Mr. Olympia, was asked about
his steroid use he said without hesitation, "Sure, doesn't
everyone?" However, the bodybuilding magazines continued the deception
that the new, larger physiques were built on powders and supplements.
Thus steroid use artificially inflated the already marketable commodities
01-29-2008, 04:17 AM
One man who had definition dieting mastered and who never used drugs
was the Iron Guru Vince Gironda. Pioneer of a technique involving intense
abbreviated training routines rather than long workouts, Gironda began
competing in the 1950s and then trained both athletes and movie stars
for many decades after. So defined was his physique, he often found
himself penalized by judges who seemed confused over his appearance.
Says Gironda, "The men who judged physique contests at this time
were puzzled by so much muscularity. Quotes from physique magazines
stated I didn't place higher in whatever contest because of too
much muscularity. They thought that this type of cut-up physique was
slightly repugnant so I lost most muscular titles to smoother men who
had that type of definition for that day."
Gironda often stated that nutrition was 85-90 percent of bodybuilding.
His alternative to drugs was eggs. Like Blair, he advocated up to 36
eggs a day for 6 to 8 weeks to produce muscle buildup. (He also took,
among many other supplements, "orchic tissue tablets," that
is, dried testicles.)
He recommended following this "anabolic phase" with a
short-term vegetarian diet to "re-alkalize" the body. Similarly
he alternated a low-carbohydrate diet with periods of carbohydrate loading.
He was careful to point out the difference between natural and refined
carbohydrate foods. He presented research data that strongly indicted
refined carbohydrates as the real culprit in much of the century's
degenerative disease. His articles went into surprising detail on the
biochemical pathways through which sugar did its damage, pointing out
the relation between sugar and atherosclerosis, abnormal increases in
height and weight and skeletal anomalies.
As for protein, he believed the average American could get along fine
with just 45 grams of quality protein a day. However, he insisted that
bodybuilders needed over 300 grams daily for several weeks to force
the growth process. He believed in quality protein powders and used
Blair's milk-and-egg blend until he came out with his own product.
When he used the powders, he blended 1/3 of a cup with a dozen eggs
and 12 ounces of raw cream or half & half. He was also big on steak
and often ate his meat raw.mmended germ oils, amino acids, vitamin and
mineral supplements, and hydrochloric acid (HCL). He recommended mineral
rich sea kelp for its iodine content and dried liver extract for blood
building and oxygen capacity boosting. Many bodybuilders used desiccated
liver after the early 1950s experiments of Dr. Benjamin Ershoff. Ershoff
who conducted the famous liver study wherein rats fed 10 percent desiccated
liver swam far longer compared to controls.
In his early years, Blair recommended a very low carbohydrate diet.
Later he advocated a diet consisting of 1/3 protein, 1/3 fat and 1/3
carbohydrates to build muscle; then he reversed himself and again urged
avoidance of carbohydrate foods. But other bodybuilders included high
levels of carbs in their diets. For example, teenage sensation Casey
Viator, who became the youngest Mr. America ever at age 19, had his
own special peanut butter pudding that consisted of 2 pounds of peanut
butter, 1 jar of grape jelly and 3 or 4 bananas. The bananas were optional.
This was part of a diet that also included 2 dozen eggs and 2 gallons
of raw milk per day. Casey recalls his father not shedding too many
tears when he finally moved out.
A columnist in Strength & Health magazine recommended
the following carbohydrate-rich concoction for "getting big"
along with a diet that allowed unlimited meat and eggs:
A one day supply of Hoffman's Gain Weight formula (based on soy
2 quarts milk
2 cups skim milk powder
2 raw eggs
4 tablespoons peanut butter
½ brick ice cream
4 tablespoons malted milk powder
6 tablespoons corn syrup
By the 1960s, bodybuilders had figured out what they had to do to
attain specific goals. Getting lean or "ripped" for a contest
required stripping the diet of all carbohydrates, including milk and
cream. Milk was a favorite for building muscle, but for losing fat,
it contained too much carbohydrate and held water under the skin. Ketogenic
diets consisting of meat and water were commonly used to prepare for
the shows. During the 1950s, two English researchers--Professor
Kekwick and Dr. Pawan--claimed to have isolated a fat-mobilizing
substance that showed up in the urine along with ketone bodies after
24 hours on a no-carb diet. In spite of considerable scientific debate,
the Ketogenic diet remained a constant in the field of bodybuilding
until the 1980s.
Yet it was in the early 70s that the lipid hypothesis began to take
hold. The result was a series of diets that emphasized carbohydrates
over protein and fats. The pre-game meal of beef was giving way to one
of lasagna or spaghetti.
The magazines of 1970 mirrored this confusion. For example, in an
issue of Strength & Health, publisher Hoffman praises the
African Masai tribe for their reverence of whole milk, while in his
other publication, Muscular Development, he recommends skim
milk because it is lower in saturated fats. (The vast majority of the
nation was now drinking pasteurized milk--long time strength trainer
Jim Bryan remembers avoiding raw milk because he was given the impression
that it was dangerous.) MuscleMag publisher Bob Kennedy told
his readers not to let anyone scare them away from eggs. Frank Zane,
Mr. Olympia champion from 1977-79, was still eating the old way with
plenty of eggs, lamb, beef, pork, heart, liver, raw milk, protein powder,
vegetables, fruit with some potato and brown rice, educating his readers
on the misconception of cholesterol and warning against over-consumption
of polyunsaturated vegetable oils. But in Iron Man, Sterri
Larson was telling readers that the diet of the bodybuilder was not
necessarily one to produce good health. He believed that eggs were the
best for both building muscle and losing fat, but that saturated fat
and cholesterol could prove hazardous. According to bodybuilder Brian
Horton, some of the athletes were now eating chicken and fish instead
of beef and eggs.
Meanwhile, by the end of the 1970s, professional bodybuilders were
using a number of metabolism-enhancing substances such as amphetamines,
Armour (Thyroid), human and animal growth hormone, and multiple steroids
(a method referred to as "stacking"). Some of the top pros
worked with physicians to monitor their blood parameters as they prepared
for their competitions. During the months before an event, these athletes
would swallow and inject any substance that would facilitate tremendous
muscularity. Very few, if any, bodybuilders could attain such condition
without this assistance.
Steroid use suffered a setback with the revelation that 1988 Olympic
gold medal sprinter Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids,
which had been banned from use in the Olympic games since 1975. In 1990,
the Food and Drug Administration added steroids to the Schedule III
list of the Controlled Substance Act. Since then, any athlete seeking
to build muscle via anabolic steroids could just as easily find his
next workout conducted in a Federal prison gym -- and several have,
to the dismay of many in the legal, medical and sports arenas.
The ban on steroid use was no surprise to the bodybuilding world since
abuse of the drugs, even at the high school level, was well known. Not
only was the number of users growing, but so were the dosages and arsenals
in professions where size and strength really made the difference.
The magazines were not yet labeling heart disease as a side effect
of steroid use. However, by 1970 they were starting to mention the fact
that a number of strength athletes were succumbing at their prime. Columnist
Bob Brown described his concern over losing friends at an early age
to heart disease and wrote an article in Iron Man entitled
"Will Weight Training Kill You?" Brown compiled some death
statistics on prominent men of the iron game throughout the century
and compared them to some mortality stats supplied from an insurance
company. He concluded that even though strength trainers were not immune
to early death, they fared better than the average American and stood
a much better chance at living a longer life.
Others noted the shortened careers of top bodybuilders. The 1967 Mr.
America Don Howorth considered a comeback, but stated he knew his body
would not do well with what he had to take at that stage of his life.
Even the genetically blessed Casey Viator who was a serious contender
for the Mr. Olympia title, walked from any more attempts in 1983 knowing
that his body had had enough.
NEW DIETARY TRENDS
In the early 1980s, bodybuilders became interested in the glycemic
index of carbohydrate foods. A team of researchers at the University
of Toronto, led by Dr. David Jenkins, demonstrated that different foods
affected blood glucose levels at different rates. They developed the
Glycemic Index in which many carbohydrate foods were measured against
selected reference foods on how quickly they raised glucose levels.
Many bodybuilders and other athletes used the glycemic index to plan
their daily menu and carbohydrate selection. With the insurgence of
carbs into the diet, along with a well-established reverence for protein,
bodybuilders discovered there wasn't much room left for fat. In
fact, by the end of the decade, many found themselves in a competition
for who could get their dietary fat the lowest. Some even attempted
a theoretical zero fat diet.
But not everyone was taken in. I interviewed bodybuilder Ron Kosloff
who said he didn't change a thing. "I knew what I saw,"
he told me. "My grandparents lived on a farm and ate whole milk,
cream, eggs, butter, meat, potatoes and homemade bread. My grandfather
often ate 6 eggs a day for years, many of them raw, along with lard
sandwiches. He lived to 98 while my grandmother lived to 101. What astounded
me most was their farmhand who went by the name of Indian Joe. When
I first saw him he looked in his 40s and was incredibly cut and muscular.
He looked like Conan. I was shocked when I found out he was well into
his 70s. Indian Joe lived to 115 years of age and ate nothing but meat,
glands and intestines!" Kosloff had consumed a minimum of
6 eggs daily for the previous 20 years with no ill effects. Ron also
noted that bodybuilders like Gironda and Blair were warning him back
in the late 60s of the real hazardous fats--hydrogenated oils!
Armand Tanny, now in his 60s, was also writing articles contradicting
this new trend. All through the 1980s he wrote articles for Joe Weider's
Muscle and Fitness magazine such as: Caveman Diet (March 1986),
Meat and the Bodybuilder (Dec 1986), Good Nutrition and Sex (June 1987),
Streamline Meat (Oct 1987), Uncooked Delicacies (Dec 1986), and Those
Beefs About Meat (Oct 1985).
In the midst of the cholesterol scare in 1984, Vince Gironda released
his book Unleashing The Wild Physique, still recommending 36
eggs a day to produce an anabolic effect. However, he also wrote an
article defending carbohydrates and warning of the potential risks of
high protein consumption.
PUTTING THOSE CARBS TO WORK
A major trend in the 80s and 90s was the concept of carbohydrate loading,
first popularized by Vince Gironda back in the 50s and 60s. "I
believe that every 3 to 5 days you need to get a ‘carbohydrate
loading meal' into your body
. . . I feel that carbohydrate is necessary every third or fifth day
in order to get the glycogen back into the liver."
Also back in the 1960s, cyclists were using a technique of loading
their muscles with carbohydrates to give themselves an endurance edge.
Bodybuilders were also loading their muscles just before a competition
to give them a fuller look. Into the 1980s, the competitive bodybuilders
had brought it into a science with their knowledge of the hormones vasopressin
and aldosterone and how they controlled the sodium/water balance in
the body. The challenge was to stand on stage on competition day with
as much body fluid sucked into the muscles with the carbohydrates and
not under the skin. The effect of this technique was so dramatic that
hit or missed timing could represent a victory or looking terrible for
bodybuilding standards. Often bodybuilders would be banging their heads
off the wall one to three days after a big show when all the fluids
would shift into the right places--too late!
Similar diets followed including Cyclical Ketogenic Dieting (CKD)
variously known as the "Ultimate Diet," the "High-Fat
Diet," the "Anabolic Diet," "Bodyopus,"
the "Metabolic Diet," "Anabolic Solution," and
the "Ultimate Diet 2.0."
01-29-2008, 04:20 AM
THE SUPPLEMENT BOOM
Amino acids in their many forms (peptide-bonded, free-form, branch
chained, L-crystalline) were popular in the 80s, based on the notion
that certain isolated amino acids could stimulate the pituitary gland
to release growth hormone. Claims that the free-form amino acids arginine
and ornithine could help bodybuilders lose fat and gain muscle actually
led to a world-wide shortage of arginine and ornithine. I remember contributing
to that shortage. Others touted the amino acid lysine as a growth hormone
releaser. Lysine is plentiful in milk, which is what bodybuilders used
in the days before amino acid supplements.
Soy protein powder made a big comeback in the 1990s with enough market
hype to force the bodybuilding community to take another look. However,
soy has never been accepted as a quality protein by the bodybuilders
who knew anything about protein. Blair dumped it decades ago for the
higher quality from milk and eggs. Vince Gironda simply referred to
soy as "that s***!"
Carbohydrate loading was made easier with drinks like CarboPlex, containing
maltodextrin. Other products contained medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)
derived from coconut oil, to provide energy while bypassing the normal
fat-assimilating channels in the body.
It was almost impossible to keep up with the new ergogenic and anabolic
aids promoted in the magazines. They had bizarre names like Gamma Oryzanal,
Osterolwere, Dibencozide and Inosine. A product called Metabolol containing
glucose polymers, MCTs and various ergogenic agents became popular.
Completing products--with names like "Ultimate Orange"
and "Hot Stuff"--were promoted with clever and outlandish
MORE ANABOLIC AIDS
During the 1980s, the world of competitive bodybuilding could be summed
up in one name--Lee Haney. Haney ruled the Mr. Olympia competition
from 1984 to 1991. He was followed by Dorian Yates, winner for six straight
years and then Ron Coleman who is the reigning Mr. Olympia in 2004.
These two men ushered in a big jump in size and hardness. To put the
size in perspective, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a huge athlete back in
the 70s competing at 235 pounds at 6 feet 2 inches. In the 2003 Mr.
Olympia contest, Ron Coleman stood under 6 feet and weighed 287 pounds--and
he was even leaner than Schwarzenegger!
Were these men better bodybuilders than Schwarzenegger and Haney?
Not necessarily, just more daring chemists. Two very anabolic compounds
had muscled their way to prominence in the pro ranks in a much bigger
way than ever before. These compounds were insulin and growth hormone.
Bodybuilders were using natural growth hormone from human cadavers and
rhesus monkeys back in the 1970s. However, with the introduction of
recombinant Human Growth Hormone in 1985, this product became more widely
available. Another anabolic compound was creatine monohydrate, a muscle-hydrating
substance. Whey protein came into prominence. Bodybuilders will ingest
just about anything in the quest to build muscles--powders, pills,
raw meat, blood, glands, and a whole assortment of esoteric concoctions
that have been slam-dunked for the sake of the gain.
Until the end of the 1980s, athletes sat on two distinct sides of
the line--those who took steroids and those who did not. As Nelson
Montana once stated, "Steroids do what all bodybuilders want --they
build muscle!" That distinct line became blurred in the 1990s
with the fall of the Berlin wall and the introduction of Eastern Block
performance enhancing compounds known as "pro-hormones."
In the mid-1990s, supplements of Androstenedione, Androstenediol, Norandrostenedione,
Norandrostenediol and DHEA appeared in the magazines. Originally deemed
safe alternatives to steroids, the same side effects that manifested
with steroids soon became apparent--male pattern baldness, prostrate
enlargement, acne, reduced libido, liver and kidney toxicity, and--every
bodybuilder's favorite--gynecomastia (***** tits).
As more side effects revealed themselves, more precursors (pro-hormones)
came on the scene to replace their predecessors. Baseball's Mark
McGuire helped the market in a big way. Bodybuilders started stacking
these hormones like regular anabolic steroids along with estrogen blockers,
growth hormone enhancers, cortisone inhibitors, stimulators (ephedra),
creatine, protein powders and, if there was any cash left, perhaps some
vitamins. The recommended diet today is high-carb, high-protein, and
low in fat--skim milk, egg whites, protein powders. . . anything
but real whole foods. It's no surprise that early natural bodybuilders,
such as LaLanne, Tanny, Gironda and Grimek, enjoyed good longevity in
the sport while the health of today's muscle stars is a huge question
mark. As five-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl recently remarked: "The
guy left standing on the stage today at the end of a bodybuilding show
is probably the guy in the arena who is closest to death."
It's unfortunate that today's young athletes who have
that genetic potential to excel in bodybuilding really have no choice
but to go down that pharmaceutical road if they want to achieve top
honors at the shows. A friend of mine and long time gym owner Marty
Hodgson stated to me, "We must remember it was in fact drugs that
played a significant role in building those comic book characteristics
that attracted us to the sport over the past 40 years. But those very
substances that help make the sport are the same ones that are, with
no doubt, destroying it."
About the Author
Bodybuilder and trainer Randy Roach has followed most of the bodybuilding
diet trends over the past 30 years including methods not so embraced
in bodybuilding circles, such as complete vegan vegetarianism. During
his protein-drink phase he ate egg whites and discarded the yolks. He
has discovered that too many carbohydrates give him all sorts of problems.
Over the past 3 years he has migrated to a total raw diet. This includes
raw meat, dairy, eggs (especially the yolks), honey, green juices, and
some fruits with their seeds. Food for a typical day includes 1/4-1/2
pound raw chicken,1/2 pound raw beef, 1/4 pound raw liver, 16- 32 ounces
of raw milk, 2-3 ounces raw cream, 6-8 tablespoons raw honey, 32 ounces
raw green juice (celery, parsley, lemon, zucchini, honey, beets) and
This article is excerpted from his forthcoming book Muscle, Smoke
& Mirrors, available at http://prfit.com/history.htm.
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