Many bodybuilders don’t eat as much fish as they should. I’m not sure why maybe they don’t like the taste or the price.
A pound of fish can cost more than five dollars (the price is considerably higher for gourmet varieties), while chicken or lean ground beef can often be found for less. Preparation must also be considered. Most muscleheads, who eat five or six times a day, would rather alternate between shakes and easy-to-prepare protein meals, such as precooked chicken or sliced deli meats, than bother with preparing and broiling a fish filet.
Bodybuilders who steer away from seafood completely are missing the boat in the nutrition department. Fish offers many benefits, from easy-to-digest amino acids on par with whey protein to an array of minerals that support testosterone and thyroid functions. Incorporate fish into your bodybuilding diet more frequently to receive its nutritional benefits.
The remaining meals of the day, including the last one before bedtime, are ideal for taking in slow-digesting proteins, which provide sustained release of amino acids. Slow-digesting proteins are thought to be superior in helping to maintain an anabolic state. A slow but constant influx of aminos along with calories helps your body remain in an anabolic state.
Many types of fish are excellent for this
Try salmon, mackerel, sardines, orange roughy, trout, sushi-grade tuna or any other fish that tends to produce a lot of oil during cooking. Unlike fast-digesting types, these yield far greater amounts of dietary fat, which skews the digestion rate of the aminos from superfast to lethargic. That’s a good thing, as aminos will release slowly enough to stay with you until your next meal, keeping you anabolic around the clock.
As a bodybuilder, there are several times during the day that you need an easily and quickly digested protein source. Fast-digesting protein foods help build up amino acid reserves in the bloodstream; these reserves can help offset protein catabolism during hardcore training sessions. Posttraining, you need fast-digesting protein sources because the aminos quickly reach your bloodstream, helping to push your body back into an anabolic state. Breakfast is also an excellent time to take in fast-digesting proteins.
After several hours without food, your body is low on aminos and consuming quickly absorbed protein sources will help spare your muscles.
Bodybuilders traditionally have chosen egg whites and whey as their prime sources of fast-digesting protein. Many types of seafood, though, are also fairly easy to digest. These include scallops, shrimp, crab, haddock, cod, pollack, snapper, halibut and white tuna. A plate of grilled shrimp at 6 AM may not sound very appealing, but you can’t go wrong choosing from among the food listed. Consider a crab or shrimp omelet for breakfast. Try a piece of broiled whitefish before or after you train.
Bodybuilders have customarily shunned dietary fat, believing that it contributed to a buildup in bodyfat and nothing else. We’ve since learned a lot about the bodybuilding benefits of healthy fats. We know that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids tends to put stress on the body’s glutamine levels. When glutamine levels fall, muscles tend to burn branched-chain amino acids, which can cause the body to slip into a muscle-losing state. In addition, a loss in glutamine causes a drop in the water content in muscles, which can stifle muscle growth.
Omega-3s also help the body store carbohydrates within muscles, and that directly impacts muscle growth.
Salmon, mackerel, sardines and other fatty fish yield plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats help you grow, but they can also help you shed fat. To lose fat, you have to reduce calories and carbohydrates, but when you lower carbs, you risk shedding muscle. Including fish with concentrated sources of omega-3s can upgrade insulin sensitivity, helping to keep your body in an anabolic state. This helps you reduce bodyfat without risking muscle loss. While dieting to cut up, consume at least one six-ounce serving daily of fish rich in omega-3s.
In addition to all their other bodybuilding benefits, fish are a healthy option because they contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the most important nutrients found in fish.
Zinc is an important mineral for bodybuilders because it supports testosterone and insulinlike growth-factor levels, both of which play a direct role in growth. Seafood is a great source of zinc, with oysters topping the list. You need at least 15 milligrams a day, which can be hard to get from whole-food sources, so you will need to take a supplement.
Try eating oysters a few times a week to support your anabolic status.
This trace mineral helps encourage your body to store carbs as muscle glycogen rather than as bodyfat. Increased glycogen stores help keep your muscles full and growing. Any fish you choose is great for adding this mineral to your diet.
This antioxidant is on par with vitamins C and E as key players in maintaining a strong immune system. The stronger the immune system, the easier it is to recover from training. On the flip side, a weak immune system will fail to support growth and recovery regardless of total caloric and protein intake. Fish remains one of the premier sources of this sometimes-hard-to-get mineral.
If you want to make the most of your protein sources, try upping the amount of fish you take in. Fish is either very low in fats or high in healthy fats, and it is also loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as plenty of protein.
Author: Chris Aceto
COPYRIGHT 2008 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning