Another reason why today's champions display such superior results has to do with their knowledge of advanced nutritional techniques. While it's true that everyone has a
somewhat different biochemical makeup and so reacts differently, certain nutritional principles have a proven track record of success. For example, that old enemy of
yesteryear, carbohydrate, turns out to be a bodybuilder's best friend.
The overemphasis on protein in the past tended to obscure the fact that carbohydrates are the human body's preferred source of fuel. I'm talking specifically about complex carbs not the processed simple carbs usually associated with junk food but the healthy, natural carbs that Grandma used to push on you, like fresh vegetables, whole grains and beans. A quick look at the above list makes evident the fact that complex carbs are usually sources of fiber, known in bygone days as "roughage." And therein lies the secret power of complex carbs. Unlike what happens with their refined cousins, the simple sugars, complex carbs are processed slowly by the body. So by eating complex carbs, you avoid the nasty plunges in energy levels frequently experienced by sugarholics.
As if that weren't enough, the complex carbs spare the dietary protein you ingest from being used where you don't want it-as energy-enabling you to keep the protein where it will do you the most muscle-building good. Besides, sneaky by-products of protein metabolism, such as uric acid, tend to gum up the metabolic works and overtax the kidneys.
The bad guy in the story of bodybuilding nutrition is fat. Fats are important to animals living in polar regions because they tend to insulate tissues and help retain body heat. To a bodybuilder, however, fats just represent that dreaded state of being smooth. In reality, humans require very little dietary fat. A couple of years ago some scientists stopped playing with their laboratory rats long enough to identify the one essential element of fat required by the human body linoleic acid. All the other fats are about as necessary as a third nostril. The bottom line is, cut the fats to no more than 25 percent of your daily calories (15 percent unsaturated and 10 percent saturated, as found in many high- protein foods).
Since fats contain the highest number of calories, nine per gram vs. four per gram for proteins and carbohydrates, the cutting out of fat will usually result in the cutting up of you. Protein should represent about 15 percent of your calorie intake and come from low fat sources, such as skinless chicken and turkey, broiled fish and canned tuna in water. As a contest approaches, it's a prudent idea to cut your fat consumption to 5 to 10 percent of your total calories while upping the carbs to as much as 80 percent of total calories. After all, you have to keep your blood sugar levels up for those monster workouts.