If you want your body to support heavy training, recovery and growth, it's absolutely vital to have a sound nutritional program. It's been said that nutrition
is (fill in your favorite number above 50) percent of bodybuilding. Many adult trainees neglect this crucial aspect, and teenagers are even worse.
Because most teen trainees haven't done much reading on nutrition, talked to nutritionists or even rapped with experienced bodybuilders yet, their knowledge
about diet is somewhat hazy at best. The worst-case scenario is all too common: The lifter emulates the eating habits of his or her family, not to mention
mainstream America. Most Americans subsist on such modern-day wonders as Hostess snacks, deli meats, soda and fast food, the typical diet includes three meals.
Breakfast, if it isn't skipped altogether, is a toss-up between sugary cereal or doughnuts and coffee and a so-called down-home meal of whole eggs, greasy
bacon and pancakes swimming in butter. Lunch is either a drive-through bonanza of burgers, fries and soda or the good old sandwich accompanied by a bag of
potato chips and soda. Supper comes five hours later and is usually the biggest meal of the day.
Popular supper delicacies include pizza, fried chicken, microwave dinners, meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. Is it any wonder that we lead the world in heart
disease? For the teenager who wants to give his or her body the perfect nutritional base on which to build muscles, have two extremely radical suggestions:
Forget how everyone else eats
Because you're trying to do something extraordinary to your body, you must eat very differently from the average person. There is no breakfast, lunch and
dinner for serious bodybuilders-only meats. You wake up and eat, and then you proceed to eat every two to three hours until you go to sleep. You do this
every day, and you cannot skip meals. It requires a little planning, but once you get the hang of it, the process will become a habit.
Take responsibility for your own meals-all of them
If you've come to depend on Mom to shop for your food and cook it, this may be tough. Either ask her for your share of the food money or get a part- time
job. (If you're going to support five to seven meals a day, I highly recommend the latter.) Buy high-quality protein like chicken breasts, fish (canned tuna
is cheap), eggs and lean red meat. Do not try to substitute fish sticks for fresh fish or chicken nuggets for fresh chicken breasts-eat only the best.
Complex carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and oatmeal are very inexpensive. You should eat some fibrous carbs, which means vegetables, raw with every meal.
Each meal should consist of about one- third protein and two- thirds carbohydrates. An easy way to manage your diet is to cook all your meals for the day at
one time, store them in plastic ware and pack the containers in a cooler.
That way you always have your food with you and ready to be eaten, Of course, you can still have some of Mom's cooking or indulge in late-night fast-food
binges with your friends-just as long as most of your meals are clean.
I know it sounds like an insane break from the norm, but if you're serious about gaining muscle, you'll get serious about your nutrition. You may not be able
to eat like the average person anymore, but, then, the average person will never look like you're going to look.