8 Nutrients That You Need

Below are eight important bodybuilding nutrients, the best food sources of each, and supplement tips to enhance your recovery and support your quest for greater mass and size.

Your body needs this antioxidant to make collagen, the glue that supports joint health. If you’re sticking to the heavy basics — squats, bent rows, deadlifts and bench presses — you know these exercises can take a toll on your joints. Vitamin C can also help lower cortisol, the stress hormone associated with gut-busting training sessions that can cause the body to enter a catabolic (muscle-burning) state.

Good sources: peppers, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries and cauliflower.
As a supplement: Taking 500-1,000 milligrams (mg) with your postworkout meal can offset cortisol levels.

Vitamin E can decrease the amount of creatine kinase (CK) activity — CK is an enzyme that indicates muscle damage. It’s believed a high intake of E can help reduce damage, leading to better recovery and muscle repair. One study showed that a very high dose (900 international units [IU]) could also potentially help in the storage of glycogen.

Good sources: wheat germ, soybeans, eggs, nuts, sweet potatoes, spinach and molasses.
As a supplement: Take 200-800 IU with your postworkout meal.

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Testosterone Test

Testosterone. Test. The Big T. Whatever you call it, as a bodybuilder, you need more of it in your system. The equation is unfortunately simple — if your body isn’t releasing an adequate amount of T, you flat out won’t grow. Now the good news. By manipulating your training and diet, you can naturally escalate your levels of this anabolic male hormone. Intrigued? If you call yourself a bodybuilder, you’d better be.

UNLEASH THE BEAST – A natural increase in your testosterone levels can have a dramatic impact on your ability to add muscle mass, improving your physique through several different mechanisms: by stimulating protein synthesis, it helps to increase muscle mass; by encouraging fat cells to store less fat and pull more from storage, it promotes fat loss; and by enhancing the firing of motor nerves that supply muscle fibers, it immediately increases muscle strength.

Of course, higher levels of testosterone are also associated with aggression in male athletes. Often, this is portrayed as a negative, but to a point, it can be a huge positive for bodybuilders seeking to improve results and performance in the gym. Both strength and aggression can be important tools for your workouts — if you train when your strength and aggression are highest, your intensity and your results will be magnified. Increasing testosterone is one of the best ways to get more from your bodybuilding program. With that in mind, FLEX designed this six-week training, diet and supplementation regimen to boost your testosterone levels and, ultimately, your bodybuilding results.

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General Nutrition: 7 Basics You Need To Succeed

1 Eat balanced meals

If you think it’s all about protein, think again. Bodybuilding nutrition is about providing your body with the optimal balance of foods at every meal. In fact, your body can handle only so much protein for muscle building. Once you reach this saturation point, protein is torn down and used for energy, an inefficient, cost-ineffective process. Instead, consume a balanced diet of healthy fats, complex carbs, protein and vegetables.

2 Keep nutrients steady through the day

Part of the reason for eating several meals a day is to provide your body with a steady stream of nutrients. It’s important to eat five to seven meals a day, and to eat healthy fats, quality protein and complex carbs at every meal for a continuous supply of macronutrients to keep your body growing.

3 Consume adequate protein

Bodybuilders must eat quality protein. Without protein, you simply aren’t providing your body with the most rudimentary tool for muscle building. Consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day.

4 Eat complex carbs

Bodybuilders often avoid carbohydrates for fear they will add too much bodyfat. Most amateur bodybuilders eat plenty of carbs, but they eat simple or starchy carbs at the expense of the more beneficial complex kind. Emphasize foods such as yams, oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain breads in your diet. These foods, coupled with protein, are the ones that most encourage muscle growth.

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Big and Lean Muscle Machine

Nine sure bets for packing in mass while staying lean

1 LOAD UP ON LOW-FAT CARBS We all know we need to increase protein and carb intake for muscle growth and recovery to occur. The daily parameters are 1-1.25 grams (g) of complete protein per pound of bodyweight and 2.5-3.5 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight. When pushing the carb envelope into the 3.5 g neighborhood, switch to fat-free sources of protein, such as fish, egg whites, protein powders, skinless chicken breasts, nonfat cheese and nonfat cottage cheese.

2 DUMP CARBS AS FAT INCREASES To build trainloads of muscle, add red meat to your diet. Muscle-building red meat is high in B vitamins and iron. The need for omega-3 fatty acids — responsible for enhancing glycogen formation, retarding muscle breakdown and promoting hormone production — mandates eating salmon, steak or flaxseed oil four days per week. During those steak and salmon days, lower carb intake to 2.5 g per pound of bodyweight to prevent an increase in bodyfat.

3 OPT FOR SLOW-BURNING CARBS IF YOU’RE A HEAVYWEIGHT If you tend to be on the heavy side of the bodyweight equation, stick with natural slow-burning carbs. Yams, oats, rye bread, Cream of Rye cereal, peaches and apples all yield smaller insulin bursts, thereby helping to discourage the accumulation of bodyfat.

4 CHOOSE ANY CARB IF YOU’RE LEAN If your percentage of bodyfat tends to be low, you can chow down any type of carb. Leaner athletes release less net insulin than their heavier brothers and sisters. Less insulin means lower bodyfat. Bagels, rice, pasta, fruit and low-fat cookies are all legit.

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An Apple A Day Keeps Muscle Loss Away

If you’re a serious bodybuilder who wants to gain and maintain size, you should consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. While we often push protein because it’s the most critical macronutrient category for bodybuilders, regardless of the type of diet, we also emphasize the value of mixed meals based around whole high-protein foods. Powders are great and can make it easier and more convenient to consume large amounts of protein (without extra fat and carbs), and thus achieve your maximal potential, but they are not essential for developing a massive and monstrously strong physique. Remember, food forms the basis of your nutrition plan and supplements enhance a balanced diet. Fruits and veggies are typically promoted because of their content of fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, as well as their direct and indirect influence on metabolism and overall health. The benefits are many and potentially quite significant, especially in the long run. Fiber has significant “gut building” (as in the lining of the intestines, not your waistline) effects that, among other things, help process and utilize protein more efficiently. One very important but little-publicized reason for bodybuilders to hit fruits and veggies hard is the potential anticatabolic effect of these foods–their ability to help maintain muscle and bone.


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7 Carb Secrets For Success

With all the hype floating around the Internet and the banter flooding TV talk shows about the wonders of high-protein diets, you might think carbs are useless except for producing fat. You might also think that if you consume carbohydrates, they will undermine your attempts at building a better physique.

The fascination with high-protein diets is nothing new; the recent onslaught of carb bashing that has gone along with it, though, is both ignorant and counterproductive to building a healthy diet that is ideally suited to complement hardcore training.

Let’s ditch the hype in favor of a concrete analysis of applying carbs to building muscle mass. Here are seven tips for incorporating these unfairly maligned nutritional nuggets into your muscle-building program.

Consume plenty of carbs and protein when you are trying to build muscle mass. A carb deficiency during mass-building mode leads to protein degradation — dietary protein is utilized for energy instead of muscle building. Mass gainers need at least 2.5 grams (g) of carbs for every pound of bodyweight to enable protein to be truly anabolic. When in mass-building mode, make sure you are taking in 1 to 1.5 g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

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Four Fail-Safe Perks Of Protein

Here are a few fail-safe perks of protein to prove once and for all that there’s more to this provocative subject than you’ll get from the chicken heads clucking in the gym. Let’s set aside the fat and focus on the sizzle of the great protein debate.


Leaning out dictates that you limit daily fat intake to 10% or less of total daily calories, increase aerobic activity and go the low-carb route. As carbs are decreased, the calories lost must be replaced with calories from protein. Whey is the ideal choice to fill that void, as it is dense in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and readily used as fuel when the body is in low-carb mode. Lean beef, another viable protein option during dieting, is packed with alanine, a vital amino acid that, when converted into glucose, can be used as an energy source. In this way, the protein-based calories targeted for muscle building are not instead burned as fuel when carbs are low.


The name of the game is “spiking” insulin, the anabolic hormone that increases glycogen formation and protein synthesis. A great way to spike is to add a protein powder drink to your posttraining meal. For ideal mass building in the metabolic golden hour after training, consume your carbs and protein in a 3:1 ratio. If you take in 30 g of protein, for instance, also consume 90 g of carbs in the same meal.

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