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Eating to Win

Eating to Win, written by INBA World Vice President Wayne McDonald BSc. and Mr. Australia, Richard Hargreaves, provides some of the 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 exactly what the right fat is and how you can use it to your advantage.

Fat Essential Fatty Acid - Omega-3

Fatty Acid - Flax seeds and flax seed 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 in comparison to Omega-6 fatty acids (current ratio is 1:20, whereas ideal is 1:4 ratio). Moreover, using a (bodybuilding) diet that attempts to reduce fat intake means supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acid is essential otherwise an inflammatory response occurs due to the imbalance.

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

Benefits for bodybuilders

Flax seed is one of the best sources for the essential fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid. Alpha linolenic acid is important 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 blood stream
  • Regulation of nerve transmission
  • Serving as the primary energy source for the heart muscle.

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 removal of waste from the cell.

More efficient cellular function results in an increased rate of fat burning. Whereas, low-fat diets tend to result in poor 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 contained in the flax seed but seeds are also higher in calories, which makes 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, rice, or just 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 flax seed oil gives you a concentrated source and convenience that may give using oil the edge for a competitive bodybuilder.

How to use flax seed oil

Flax seed oil is best taken with other food. Consume one teaspoon of flax seed oil with breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a moderate dose and should be increased from teaspoon to tablespoon in off-season (3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon). Do not be afraid to add Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to any pre-contest diet. The numerous benefits and fat burning assistance outweighs the calories.

Flax seed oil should not be raised to a temperature of more than 120°F/49°C. You need to add flax seed oil to your food after cooking, use as a dressing on salad, added to other liquid drinks, or consumed directly. Be selective when you purchase flax seed oil. Flax seed oil is readily denatured by oxygen, heat and light. Flax seed oil must be carefully produced, packed under nitrogen in light-proof containers and refrigerated until used (do not buy flax seed 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 (excellent low-calorie, inexpensive protein source) and flax seed oil as a combination in their pre-contest diet. The combination of flax seed and cottage cheese has been widely used in Europe over the past 50 years and was originally 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 the most successful anti-cancer diet in the world". Budwig, six times Nobel award nominated doctor says this essential nutrient combination actually prevents and helps body to cure cancer. She says the absence of linolenic 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 flax seed oil. The Budwig formula is: 120 grams (4.2 ounces) 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 greater health properties. Using the Budwig dose ratio and our recommendation during the pre-contest phase of only 3 teaspoons of flax seed oil daily, you would need only 45 grams (1.5 oz) of the cottage cheese. You can use more cottage cheese than this for the desired level of protein that 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 which was published in Australian MuscleMag International. The new IAPC Bodybuilding Certificate Course covers everything you need to know and more importantly do in order to 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. 330 pages, 21 lessons, printed home study course with an academic certificate.


Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • KLIEN, A. M. (1993) Little big men: Bodybuilding subculture and gender construction. Suny Press.
  • MONAGHAN, L. F. (2001) Bodybuilding, drugs and risk. Psychology Press.
  • SCHWARZENEGGER, A. and DOBBINS, B. (1998) The new encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding. Simon and Schuster.

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: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/bodybuild03.htm [Accessed

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