Monday, September 27, 2010

Bodybuilding Diet

Body building requires discipline in and out of the gym. Doing the correct exercises in the correct order, with the correct form are certainly the cornerstones of successful body building. However, without the proper nutritional composition and quantities of macronutrients (food), the chances of making the podium are low.

Most body builders are aware that muscles are essentially composed of protein, and few body builders neglect to eat enough protein. There are two key concerns regarding protein: eating complete proteins, those composed of the eight, essential amino acids, and consuming the proper amount of protein based on your weight and activity level.

There are eight essential amino acids required for building muscle, and our bodies cannot synthesize these without our ingesting all eight of them over the course of a day. Animal meats contain what are called, "complete proteins," meaning the meat alone contains everything necessary for muscle building. There are vegetarian options, also. Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") is a grain that also happens to be a complete protein. (The website has more information about quinoa and how to prepare it). Eating beans and rice in one sitting creates a complete protein. Certainly, it takes more sheer volume of the vegetarian options to amass the number of grams of protein required, but it certainly can be done.

As far as how much protein to eat, you can calculate this figure yourself based on your body weight. Ed Coyle, an exercise physiologist who studies human performance at the University of Texas, uses a rule of thumb based on body weight of 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. (You can convert your weight in pounds into kilograms by dividing by 2.2. E.g., 150 pounds, divided by 2.2 equals 68 kilograms). Therefore, this body builder would need to consume between 82 and 102 grams of protein per day.

As far as how much to eat, in terms of calories per day, both your body weight and activity level should be considered. The short answer is, a 150 pound man burns approximately 400 calories per hour while doing vigorous weight lifting. A more individualized answer may be found on a website densely packed with helpful nutritional information:, published by the USDA. You can easily track your calorie intake and nutritional composition by creating a free profile and entering your diet each day. Most foods are already listed in their directory, but you can add foods, also. Along with your diet, you can track your activity level. Again, most activities are already listed, including vigorous weight lifting. What other activities you do during the day may also be entered, and should be, particularly if you are very active at work. The net result, calculated on the website, provides feedback as to whether you are meeting demands of RDA’s for micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (food) relative to your activity level.

Beginning body builders may err on the side of eating too few carbohydrates. In order to synthesize (create) muscle, your body needs the insulin response facilitated by eating carbohydrate. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, (yes, the same anabolic as in steroids) but it is totally legal. Essentially, eating carbohydrates, along with complete proteins, catalyzes an optimal amount of protein synthesis. Eating too few carbohydrates tends to result in muscular catabolism (Eek! That means break-down). Muscles need fuel to contract, and the primary fuel they use is glucose in the bloodstream. Without enough carbohydrate, your weight-training performance (you will not be able to lift as much weight) will be suboptimal, and/or you may end up undoing some of your hard work that would normally result in muscular anabolism (building).

The amount of carbohydrate to consume is not as easily calculable as is the amount of protein. Most nutritionists would have you consuming 50-70% of your day’s total calories from carbohydrate. If you are already consuming 10-30% of your day’s total calories from protein, that leaves 10-30% of your calories from fat. We now know the composition of macronutrients does not determine body weight, caloric balance does. In other words, the number of calories in (what you eat) minus the number of calories out (what you do) should be zero if you want to remain weight stable. However, while eating a diet of 100% fat would make you feel pretty horrible, if you were in caloric balance, you would not gain weight.

In the early stages of bodybuilding, a caloric surplus is required to gain weight, hopefully, mostly, in the form of muscle. Adhering to your weight-training program, while eating the appropriate number of calories per day, comprised of the appropriate proportions of macronutrients will maximize your muscular gain. Additionally, if you are a man, you have an additional anabolic hormone in greater quantities than does a woman, testosterone! Testosterone, along with the insulin response and another few hormones (Insulin-like growth factor, IGF-1 and human growth hormone, HGH), facilitate your synthesizing muscle. Yes, women have testosterone, too, (it is the primary hormone responsible for our sex-drive, by the way) but women have less of it.

To answer the question how much carbohydrate to eat, it depends. For example, if you are very active during the day, you do an hour of vigorous weight-lifting every day, and you weigh 150 pounds, you would need approximately 2000-2500 calories from normal activity, plus 400 calories from weight-lifting, for a total of 2400-2900 calories. We already calculated that a 150 pound body builder should eat 82-102 grams of protein per day. Protein and carbohydrate each have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram. Here’s the math using our macronutrient guidelines and calculated requirements:

4 calories x 100 grams protein = 400 calories per day from protein

(400/2400 = approximately 15% calories per day from protein)

4 calories x approximately 400 grams carbohydrate = 65% calories per day from carbohydrate

9 calories x approximately 50 grams fat = 20% calories from fat

There are many websites that will help you calculate your basal metabolic (BMR) and actual metabolic rates, including:,, and the aforementioned The most precise way to determine your BMR is indirect calorimetry, which uses expired air when you are fasted to determine your actual BMR. Most people do not have access to this tool, and using tables that list calories expended per time doing activity are perfectly adequate.

Body builders (and most Americans) dream of the magic food or supplement that will provide perfect results. But, just like your mother used to say, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The main attribute of a protein supplement, if you do not want to simply get your protein from real food, is that it contain the 8 essential amino acids. Claims that medium chain or branch-chain amino acids are more "bio-available" than other forms of protein are unfounded. If you enjoy the convenience and lack of math required by using a protein supplement, and you do not mind the expense, protein supplements are an easy way to ensure you are getting the right amount. However, use caution regarding the other ingredients in the protein supplement. Some supplements have been found to contain banned substances in competition, or simply ingredients you do not want to be ingesting. A reputable health food store can steer you in the correct direction ( and traderjoes,com, among others).

In terms of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), you should check with your primary care physician, using your blood counts, but simply following the USRDA’s for your age and your sex is a good rule of thumb. You do not need mega-doses of anything for bodybuilding. In fact, mega-doses of some micronutrients might upset your stomach, which could hinder a workout on any given day.

The rest of the nutritional guidelines from the USDA food pyramid apply to bodybuilders, too. The current recommendation for servings of fruits and vegetables is 9 a day. The best sources of carbohydrate are complex, whole grains. Lean meats, fish, and beans lead the preference for sources of protein. Lastly, polyunsaturated fats, such as those contained in olive oil, avocado, and nuts, to name a few, with a minimal amount of saturated fats, are recommended sources.

Some experimentation early in the season (or in your career as a bodybuilder) in terms of what and how much to eat will provide valuable, individualized information. Near competitions, many body builders eat very few carbohydrates, fats, or salt, in order to optimize their appearances. These practices, while common, are not founded in scientific research. Additionally, you should always check with your primary care physician before beginning an exercise program.

Written in response to a solicitation for bodybuilding supplements. There are not any supplements required for body building.

Friday, September 24, 2010

wasting time

Didn't cause it, can't change it, cant cure it. Had a busy week. Draw to pursue frivolity this morning rather than finishing tasks. C'est d'accord. Looking forward to some NCAA football tomorrow. One more week of teaching at UT. It's been real! My 150+ kid class was super talky yesterday, both participating in class discussion and talking while I was talking. What the heck. I've never been to a college class where the teacher had to tell the class more than once to stop talking. Annoying. They are young and still loyal to the family body politic, for the most part.

win me, two!

Blue Fall
Blue Fall by meredithlouise

win me!

Just Dance
Just Dance by meredithlouise

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not much

I don't like fox, foxnews, or now, foxsports. Couldn't watch the game, yesterday. Fell asleep while listening on the radio. Texas won. I have a star Longhorn in one of my classes....

Don't have much to say, just had a little time before the J and have currently caught up on most of my school preps. Watched some of the Buena Vista Social Club movie yesterday. We've been talking in classes about the relationship between wealth and health in US, and I think it's a different story in Cuba. No one has any money, and there is federally funded healthcare. The Cuban musicians who played on the grammy-winning album were between 60-90 years old, life-long cigars smokers, and smiling from ear to ear every time they were caught on camera. It seems the deadly combination for folks is to be poor and move to the US. Although, of course, the universal healthcare is probably the common denominator of health every where else in the world. Newly immigrated folks fare better on health than average Americans for their first 5 years here. After that, they quickly surpass "average" Americans on chronic diseases. It seems, until we do get universal healthcare here, that the only hope is to teach mind/body stress management techniques. And Martin Seligman's learned optimism skills.

Speaking of poor, I decided to stop taking dance classes and lessons until further notice. I am sad about it, but think it's the right thing to do. Have been trying to get in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week since I got my 1-hour glucose tolerance test results back. Although, gestational diabetes does not have the behavioral causes that type II diabetes does. In fact, I have none of the risk factors. However, it is a hormonal response to pregnancy hormones and sometimes insulin production cannot keep up with the glucose needed to grow the fetus. They did take my blood 10 minutes early, but I don't think the full hour would have gotten me under the limit. I have to go for the 3 hour test on Friday. A drag. I hope I can sleep between draws. 3 hours is a long time to waste. I've been totally out of reading mode, lately.

Hank is starting to get used to the ECP. It's been 2 weeks. Brad has been taking him in the mornings. He cries on the way to school, but apparently cries not at all or much less after Brad passes him off. It is challenging. I don't want him to think we are discounting his feelings. I do want him to be able to be comforted by others or by himself, but I don't know if this is the right time to do it. I suppose if he cried during the day or long after Brad left, there would be more reason to be concerned. And I guess 2 year-olds don't know how to stuff their feelings. I've been trying not to think about it and trust he is in the care of loving adults and gaining valuable life skills. When I pick him up he looks content or involved in come activity. That seems like a good sign. He loves making challah on Thursdays, and they have been making it with chocolate chips! That's a pretty sure way to earn his approval. My dad used to say about me, I would eat sawdust, if it had enough salt and grease on it. I disagree, but I do think Hank would eat anything so long as the main ingredient were chocolate chips. Brad, too, for that matter.

Did you know Ramadan just ended?
Eid-Al-Fitr (End of Ramadan): September 10, 2010

And the first of the High Holy Days in Judaism just ended. Happy 5571!

I like tradition and ritual. I don't like seemingly antiquated or random "rules." I don't like paying lip-service to something I don't endorse. I don't think there is a religion that already suits me. The Episcopal church comes close, but it comes closer in the way it is practiced than the way it is written. E.g. The Nicene Creed (Did you know that is 1700 years old)? I don't believe Jesus is the only son of God. I don't believe there is only one Apostolic church. I know nothing about Muhammed and can't say he isn't God's son. Or the Divinity of Mary, Mother Theresa, or plenty of anonymous folks who regularly engage in Divine acts.
I also don't think God cares anymore if we mix up the plates for meat and dairy, but it was a good idea to keep them separate before the industrial revolution and pasteurization. I think tradition can adapt. Can't it? It seems humans of all ages are comforted by sameness and ritual day after changing day. Like Groundhog Day. Like watching the same episode of Caillou over and over and OVER. : )
I like going to church for the organ music, a few of the convocations, a few of the prayers, and sometimes the reminders the sermon provides. I don't like reciting things I don't think are true - I don't want to be inauthentic AND I don't want to feel a part from.
I don't think there is a church with big enough arms AND high enough ritual for me. One of my favorite things about Judaism is that so much ritual is in the home. I want to engage in that. I guess the thing is to begin today.
I have been able to maintain a Groundhog Day attitude regarding Brad and our differences. I guess it's only one difference, and it is a difference of opinion about what something should look like. We have been at an impasse regarding this issue in particular, which he worries about more than I will, basically, from I do. I feel able to enjoy his company despite not enjoying his attitude or behavior regarding the issue. It seems he cannot quite let go of what he thinks about me long enough to enjoy me for very long. I feel peaceful that I am doing my best, and that is all I can do. I know he is doing his best, too. Even though, I suppose we each have different opinions about what's the others' best should look like. That is a divider.
I think quitting dancing was my way of stepping across the line towards him. I don't need a standing ovation, but I would like some acknowledgment of my grief. Choices the other one makes are personal and not really the others' business. I also think what I think and how I feel are not up for debate. I sometimes feel invaded that he has telepathically interpreted my thought processes and decided they are incorrect. Thought processes are none of the others' business. Whatever mental and/or spiritual path I take to I get to where I am is legal. When the family is affected by the actions of a member, of course, the line is very blurry. And, I suppose my perceptions must be cloudy because I mostly hang around people above my SES, which makes me feel frugal in comparison. I don't get my hair done, makeup, facials, massage, mani-pedis, go out to eat, buy clothes (very often, and I never pay retail!), have the latest electronic gadget, have cable tv, go to expensive activities by myself or with HH. I am pretty sure other women do some or all of these things because I either hear about them and see they have been done. I suppose just because I do not do the "norm," whatever that is, does not mean the norm is "correct," or the way I should do it. And, I guess I need to recommit myself to the Your Money or Your Life techniques. I think I got rid of a lot of stuff I didn't need after reading that book for the second time. Maybe I can get to a deeper level this time. It is the new year, after all. 5571!
OK, don't panic. Today is a day we must carry the message. Man, double a would be my perfect church if we had a couple of organ hymns during the meeting...But, I suppose that would scare the shit out of newcomers. haha

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others.