The 10 Commandments of Bodybuilding Nutrition — Fact or Fiction?
What’s the truth behind 10 commonly held beliefs about muscle- and strength-building nutrition? MMI separates the bodybuilding facts from the fallacies.
Commandment #5: “Thou shalt not ingest soy products, lest thy earn a ripe set of man-cans”
Don’t fret: Eating some tofu for dinner or snacking on edamame won’t give you a bouncy set like Kim Kardashian. Soy gets a bad rap because it possesses compounds that act like weak estrogens; thus, many bodybuilders worry that it’ll send their testosterone levels spiraling downward. Yet there’s no evidence that nibbling on reasonable amounts of soy has any negative effect on the male physique. In fact, soy protein is considered a complete protein — meaning it contains a full arsenal of essential amino acids and can help you get ripped to the bone. According to findings published in Clinical Nutrition, there were no differences between soy protein and casein protein in terms of muscle protein synthesis among healthy volunteers. What’s more is those estrogenic compounds may have some serious disease-fighting abilities.
While you shouldn’t go about gorging on highly processed forms of soy such as soy milk and the soy infused into some cereals and energy bars, there’s nothing to worry about if you eat whole-food forms of this legume such as tempeh, edamame and tofu a few times a week. It’s always a good idea to vary your protein sources, and including some soy protein can help you achieve this.
Commandment #6: “Thou shalt not eat breakfast in the morning before performing cardio to torch the most bodyfat”
Verdict: False (sort of)
The theory goes that by doing your aerobic exercise at the crack of dawn before a spoonful of oatmeal passes over your lips, you’ll burn more of your fat stores as your body desperately tries to hold on to its diminished carbohydrate stores. Indeed, it’s true that at low intensities the body will primarily seek out fat to burn for energy production. But here’s the thing: Your body prefers to use fat calories during low-intensity exercise regardless if you’re carb depleted or not. This is an evolutionary adaptation to help make sure that carbohydrates are available for bursts of intense effort such as, say, outrunning a saber-toothed tiger. And if you intend to kick it up a notch in the morning such as performing interval training, the rate of fat breakdown will not keep up with your body’s demand for energy; your system will desperately seek out carbohydrates and even cannibalize hard-earned muscle protein tissue in a pinch. Plus, hopping on the treadmill like a hungry zombie may mean you’ll be more prone to hitting the shower earlier, which ultimately leads to fewer overall fat calories torched. It may also lead to ravenous overeating of unhealthy junk afterward.
If exercising on an empty stomach works for you and you’re not pushing a heavy pace, by all means keep it up. But if you’re attempting to torch more calories, which ultimately leads to more total fat calories burned, or find that performing exercise in the fasted state leads to brain fog and earlier fatigue, its best to have a small snack before working up a sweat. Some whey protein mixed with fruit juice or instant oatmeal mixed with nuts can work.