The latest buzz on bodybuilding nutrition surrounds low-carb precontest diets and the benefits of eating steak instead of chicken and fish. That means beef is once again king of the hill in the wild world of training tables and mass-building meal plans. I'm sure Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu will be amused by this "recent development," as they were eating precontest steaks way back in the 1970s; long before scientific research reinforced what empirical research had already proved: For best results, include beef in one or two of your five daily bodybuilding meals.
If you need more than just a buzz to believe that packing away the beef will help you pack on the beef, here are 10 perks that come with a diet rich in red meat.
- Beef contains creatine.
Beef is particularly effective at increasing strength and promoting muscle growth because it has a higher creatine content that any other food. Creatine is a muscle's source of fuel for the first few seconds during training. And it allows you to train harder for longer periods by replenishing adenosine tripphosphate (ATP).
- Beef contains carnitine.
Chicken and fish are extremely low in both carnitine and creatine. Beef, on the other hoof, is packed with both. Carnitine is needed to support normal fat metabolism and contributes branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), among the most important aminos for a bodybuilder in moss-building mode.
- Beef contains potassium and protein.
Potassium is a mineral that's lacking in the diets of most athletes. Low levels of potassium can inhibit protein synthesis, as well as the manufacture of growth hormone and IGF-l (the latter two are hormones utilized to stimulate muscle growth). Beef is also rich in protein: Four ounces of lean roast beef yield about 22 grams of first-class protein.
- Beef contains alanine.
Alanine is an amino acid that is used to make sugar from dietary protein. If your carb intake is low, alanine comes to the rescue by providing muscles with fuel to allow you to continue training. The beauty of alanine is that it spares muscles from providing the fuel for your heavy-duty workouts.
- Beef is a low-fat source of CLA.
There are cuts of beef that are low in fat. Eye of round steak, for example, is comparable in fat current to a lean chicken breast. Consider that fact that beef is replete with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a potent antioxidant that combats tissue damage from hardcore weight training. CLA has also been shown to preserve muscle mass by acting as an anticatabolic agent.
- Beef contains iron.
Iron is a blood-building mineral that is plentiful in beef, quite a contrast to the paltry amount of iron in chicken, and turkey.
- Beef contains zinc and magnesium.
Zinc is another antioxidant that contributes to protein synthesis and muscle growth. As with glutamine and B6, zinc reinforces the immune system. Magnesium supports protein synthesis, enhances muscle strength and improves the efficiency of insulin production, the body's primary anabolic hormone.
- Beef contains vitamin B6.
The higher your protein requirements, the more B6 you should add to your diet. There's enough vitamin B6 in red meat to beef up the immune system, which helps improve recovery from strenuous workouts while promoting protein metabolism and synthesis.
- Beef contains vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is essential to the production of red blood cells; those cells deliver oxygen to muscle tissue. It also helps metabolize the byproducts of BCAAs to furnish the body with energy for hardcore training.
- Beef offers variety.
Chicken breasts are pretty boring when eaten day after day for several weeks or months. Round steak, flank steak, sirloin steak and filet mignon all vary in flavor and texture.