Sports Coach Logo Sports Coach Training Principles Fitness Components


Eating to Win

Eating to Win, written by INBA World Vice President Wayne McDonald BSc. Mr Australia, Richard Hargreaves, provides some secrets to winning for bodybuilders. Other articles include Thinking to win and Training to Win.

Eating fat to Build Muscle and get ripped

Fat can be a close ally in your quest to pack on muscle and lose body fat. Not all fats were created equal, and far from being your enemy, the right fat can be your best friend. Read on to learn what the right fat is and how to use it to your advantage.

Fat Essential Fatty Acid - Omega-3

Fatty Acid - flaxseeds and flaxseed oil

The body uses about 20 fatty acids to maintain normal function. Our bodies can synthesize all but two, Omega-3 and Omega-6. These two fatty acids must be obtained in proper balance through foods or supplements. Most people typically do not consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids compared to Omega-6 fatty acids (the current ratio is 1:20, whereas the ideal is 1:4 ratio). Moreover, a (bodybuilding) diet that reduces fat intake means supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids is essential; otherwise, an inflammatory response occurs due to the imbalance.

EFA and flaxseed/oil are popular with competitive bodybuilders. They are yet another example of the innovative understanding that bodybuilders have for nutrition (that now the general population are becoming aware of). Flaxseeds are a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids and abundant in fibre, lignans, vitamins, minerals and protein. Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fibre and, importantly contain a unique fibre called mucilage. Mucilage helps stabilize blood sugar levels, protects against bowel cancer and is a natural laxative. Plus, 100 grams of flaxseeds produces 25 grams of protein (4 grams per tablespoon), which is remarkable considering the other nutrients obtained.

Benefits for bodybuilders

Flaxseed is one of the best essential fatty acid sources, alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid is vital for bodybuilders:

  • Enhancing insulin sensitivity within muscle cells
  • Stimulating steroid production
  • Systemization of hormones
  • Mediating immune response
  • Directing endocrine hormones to target cells
  • Regulating smooth muscle and autonomic reflexes
  • Construction of healthy cell walls
  • Transportation of oxygen to body cells
  • Keeping saturated fats mobile in the bloodstream
  • Regulation of nerve transmission
  • Serving as the primary energy source for the heart muscle.

The Omega-3 fatty acid is sometimes defined as "anti-fat" due to its ability to speed up the metabolic process and aid in fat loss. Omega-3 fatty acid increases the fluidity of cell membranes, increases the uptake of nutrients into the cell, and removes waste from the cell.

More efficient cellular function results in an increased fat burning rate, whereas low-fat diets tend to result in inadequate hormone production, which leads to a slower metabolism.

Flaxseed oil or whole seeds?

From a nutritional standpoint, seeds are the better choice. Most of the nutrients are in the flaxseed, but seeds are also higher in calories, making seeds an off-season option. To absorb the oil and nutrients, the seeds must be cracked or ground up (use a coffee grinder). You can add the ground-up seeds to cereal, salads, protein shakes, or rice, or eat them plain - they have a nutty (but not strong) taste. One needs three times the amount of seeds to get the oil equivalent. The flaxseed oil gives you a concentrated source and convenience that may give oil the edge for a competitive bodybuilder.

How to use flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil is best taken with other food. Consume one teaspoon of flaxseed oil with breakfast, lunch and dinner. This moderate dose should be increased from teaspoon to tablespoon in the off-season (3 teaspoons equal to one tablespoon). Do not be afraid to add Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to any pre-contest diet. The numerous benefits and fat burning assistance outweigh the calories.

Flaxseed oil should not be raised to a temperature of more than 120°F/49°C. After cooking, you need to add flaxseed oil to your food, use it as a dressing on a salad, add other liquid drinks, or consume it directly. Be selective when you purchase flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is readily denatured by oxygen, heat and light. Flaxseed oil must be carefully produced, packed under nitrogen in light-proof containers and refrigerated until used (do not buy flaxseed oil sold in a glass bottle or on the shelf - get from the refrigerator section in a light-proof, black container). Use as quickly (fresh) as possible.

Revealing Health Tip

Competitive bodybuilders can use a mix of low-fat cottage cheese (an excellent low-calorie, inexpensive protein source) and flaxseed oil as a combination in their pre-contest diet. The combination of flaxseed and cottage cheese has been widely used in Europe over the past 50 years and was initially proposed by Dr Johanna Budwig, a German biochemist and expert on fats and oils. Recently the theory was re-examined by Dr Dan C. Roehm M.D. FACP (Oncologist and former cardiologist) in 1990. Dr Roehm claims: "This [diet] is far and away from the most successful anti-cancer diet in the world". Budwig, six times Nobel award nominated doctor, says this essential nutrient combination prevents and helps the body cure cancer. She says the absence of linoleic acids [in the average western diet] is responsible for the production of oxydase, which induces cancer growth and is the cause of many other chronic disorders. The theory is the sulphuric content of protein (cottage cheese being the best) makes the Omega-3 oils (flaxseed oil) water-soluble and more effective (cell respiration is closely connected with the highly unsaturated fatty acids and needed for proper oxidation).

The best combination is cottage cheese and flaxseed oil. The Budwig formula is 120 grams (4.2 ounces) of low-fat organic cottage cheese with 45 ml (3 tablespoons) flaxseed oil (or 1-3 Tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed and enough water to make it soft). Add a little cayenne pepper, garlic and red pepper for taste and higher health properties. Using the Budwig dose ratio and our recommendation during the pre-contest phase of only three teaspoons of flaxseed oil daily, you would need only 45 grams (1.5 oz) of cottage cheese. You can use more cottage cheese than this for the desired protein level you need at the time.

IAPC Bodybuilding Certificate Course

This article is an excerpt from a new 21 lesson, 330-page Bodybuilding Contest Preparation Course, published in Australian MuscleMag International. The new IAPC Bodybuilding Certificate Course covers everything you need to know and, more importantly, win at bodybuilding. The course is recognised by the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) and offers a certificate at completion. Learn more insider secrets to bodybuilding with the official guide to bodybuilding and contest preparation. There are three hundred thirty pages, 21 lessons, and a printed home study course with an academic certificate.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2009) Eating to Win [WWW] Available from: [Accessed