Who doesn’t love a good cheat meal?
Today I want to explore the idea of eating junk food regularly versus eating “clean foods” and show you why even strength athletes and strongmen in particular should follow this route.
It should go without saying: eat healthy foods the majority of the time and the remaining 10% or so you can eat whatever you want. These values might shift a little; if you're a physique athlete you might be a bit more strict, and if you’re a strength athlete you might let loose a little more frequently.
I should be able to leave the argument at that, but it seems like with the craze over IIFYM and young strength athletes making a presence for themselves on YouTube, I have been seeing a lot of people eating like shit on the internet lately without explaining to any of their watchers that they should not eat the same way. Because of this, they somehow imply that eating that way is the key to their success. I can’t help but question how these guys are surviving off of the foods they eat, when you never see them eat a vegetable and very rarely some real fruit. If you want to make it to the top level have any longevity in strength sports you have to be getting the majority of your calories from high quality and nutrient dense foods! A top level body is not built from Twinkies and Ding Dongs.
Why you can’t live and excel as a strength athlete off of shitty processed foods:
You do need a lot of calories in order to make strength and size gains. You need to be consuming somewhere around 20 calories per pound of body weight daily in order to continue to see progress. This is a lot of food. You will probably have to stuff yourself at least 5 or 6 times a day in order to get in all the calories that you need; day in and day out for months on end to start to see even the slightest progress. Sounds awful doesn’t it? Sometimes it really is awful. Nobody likes the way this feels, and processed calories dense foods can help you reach your daily caloric needs, if you add them in addition to the high quality foods you eat the majority (90%) of the time. When you begin to veer too far from the 90% rule, you do so at a great cost to your health and quality of progress that you will see with your training.
Our bodies need calories from proteins, fats, and carbs for energy and yes, there is a difference in where the macronutrients come from; if it fits your macros ain’t gonna cut it, bro. Junk foods are cheap, because they tend to lack protein, the fats are hydrogenated or saturated and not high quality mono- or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the carbohydrates are refined to the point that you could get “the diabetus” just from looking at the food! We also need lots of micronutrients that are best obtained from natural food sources. Multivitamins and vitamins and minerals added back in to refined foods do an ok job as an adjunct to whole foods, but the human body really functions optimally from the micronutrients and additional phytonutrients and antioxidants that you get from real foods.
These guys also talk a lot about their skin problems, but don’t consider for a second that it could be because they don’t consume enough detoxifying nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables to help counteract their other choices.
What you should be eating:
Your diet should be based around minimally processed meats, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and minimally processed carbohydrates. One thing these young guys probably haven’t gotten the hang of yet is the fact that as a strength athlete, unless you are mega-rich, you will have to take responsibility of cooking for yourself. Cook your food in batches that will last you at least half the week at a time. It will only take you an hour to have the majority of your food ready for 4 or more days! Also buy a rice cooker. They are inexpensive and so damn convenient for making the perfect rice every time. Mine makes up to 14 cups of cooked rice at a time and it keeps well in the pot with the lid on it (in the fridge, of course) for the 3 or 4 days that lasts me. The hardest part of eating to get big is consistency and finding foods that you really like to eat is the key to overcoming this. It is definitely easier for strength athletes to pile in the calories compared to bodybuilders who are afraid to add any flavour to their food, because of the terrifying few extra calories they might be consuming. Find the types of seasonings that you like and rotate through them and you will have a much easier time shovelling food down your throat for months to come.
Bonus: One of my current go-to meals.
Mr. Gouda’s makes a great jerk seasoning blend that I put on my chicken before cooking it and top it off before consuming as well. I eat this 1-2 times a day with rice and mixed frozen peas/ carrots/ beans blend all sprinkled with the seasoning and then I top it with hot sauce and a tablespoon of olive oil on the rice (only suggested for when trying to gain more weight). Make sure you get the light brown colour seasoning and not the dark brownish red jerk seasoning from Mr. Gouda. I think adding some olive oil or coconut oil to rice when trying to gain weight is a good option and tastes awesome, while helping to break the monotony of yet another meal with rice.
- 200g chicken (breast, thighs, I don’t discriminate. Whatever is on sale. Cooked and seasoned with Mr. Gouda’s Jerk seasoning)
- 1.5-2 cups rice (I currently like calrose rice).
- 1 cup frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, beans, corn). Mix these with the rice!
- Extra seasoning over everything.
- Frank’s Hot Sauce over everything.
- 1 tbsp olive oil over rice/ veggie mixture.
Try this out and let me know what you think! It doesn’t even compare to real jerk chicken, but it has a decent amount of taste for an everyday meal. Don't be afraid to mess around with the spices to something else you prefer.