Q | I keep hoping to stumble onto a diet that builds muscle mass, retains energy and reduces bodyfat, all at the same time. Am I just dreaming?
A | I used just such a diet to win my record-setting eighth Sandow in 1991, and that wasn’t a dream. Furthermore, for that Mr. Olympia, I was in the best shape of my life; plus, I felt healthier and more energetic than ever.
The term “back to basics” has become almost cliche, but it’s used so often because it works. In dieting for my seventh Mr. O title, I got a little fancy and came in way off my optimum hardness, but for my last and best run at the crown, I went back to basics and instinct. In other words, I kept my diet simple, just like my training, and I let my body have a say in what I ate: if I felt even slightly bloated from certain foods, I quit them. Prior to that, I had eaten more pasta and potatoes, but this time I switched to simpler but slower-digesting carbs: bananas, pears and pineapple. What a difference! No more bloating, my nutrient assimilation improved, my energy went through the roof and I was able to eat even more protein.
Serious bodybuilders have a bad habit of tethering themselves to a fixed number of meals a day, but I went, again, by instinct: I usually ate five or six times a day, and never would I torture myself.
For breakfast, I’d enjoy an omelet of five egg whites, two whole eggs, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and onions. I love spinach. It’s packed with vitamins and digestive enzymes, plus the amino acid glutamine and two phytochemicals that boost muscle strength and mass–octacosanol and beta-ecdysterone. Breakfast also included pineapple and whole-wheat bread. I sought a power-packed protein meal, with complete digestion/assimilation a priority. But I also wanted to be satisfied. Mission accomplished: breakfast was delicious.
Lunchtime, I’d have just a little pasta, but I didn’t need much, because I had a big helping of baked chicken with salsa, marinara or tomato sauce; plus, more spinach.
Midafternoon, I’d mix up a tasty pile of tuna, rice and spinach, maybe even top it with salsa and finish with more pineapple.
Just before my evening workout, I’d have a carb meal of whole-wheat waffles and bananas along with some protein. (Am I making you hungry yet?)
When I’d return home, it was well into the evening, so I’d only have a light meal of chicken or tuna on whole-wheat bread, pineapple and water.
Your potential can be achieved only if you love what you do; so, even during precontest, I’d have pizza every couple of weeks and sugar-free, nonfat ice cream even more often. When I changed my bodybuilding eating habits from fear to pleasure, the stress disappeared, replaced by a positive new world of liberated growth, so stop worrying and start eating.
Visit Lee’s Web site at leehaney.com.
By Lee Haney
EIGHT-TIME MR. OLYMPIA
RELATED ARTICLE: BASIC DIETING TIPS
* Drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.
* Don’t skimp on protein. Have a big helping of meat at most meals during the day.
* Throw away your measuring spoons. Let common sense determine how much you eat.
* Eat a chicken breast or a few bites of tuna for between-meal snacks.
* Stabilize your diet so you’re never too hungry or too full.
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