Bodybuilding, fitness, and other
training magazines derive a great deal of their profits from supplement
In many cases, the corporation owning the magazine also owns a
supplement company or the overall corporation has spun off other
corporations producing, marketing, and distributing supplements. So, the
magazine may glean profits from its own products and from the ads of
Reportedly, while the field has become extremely competitive, the
mark-ups on supplements are high and for the corporations that survive,
the profits can become enormous.
One result of the interface of publishing and supplement businesses is
the widely promoted position that success in training is tied to
supplement use. That is, if people are not taking a wide array of
supplements then their training effectiveness and results will be
Of course, none of this is true. But with the considerable loosening of
oversight and regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
corporations are free to make almost any claim about a supplement. In
fact, the FDA only will investigate reports of harm and not claims of
This means that unsubstantiated
claims can be made about a myriad of benefits, but as long as there is
no evidence of harm, the supplement can remain on the market.
It seems that only creatine has
solid empirical data to support its efficacy. Many other supplements
are sold with sparse, if any, real supportive data but with extravagant
Perhaps, the oddest part about the promotion and use of supplements is
that many of the more popular ones are substitutes not supplements per
se for real food. Many bodybuilders seem to eat some food and then add
expensive (albeit, portable) meal replacement supplements to their diet.
Most are high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates but devoid of
other important nutrients contained in real food such as fiber and real
Consuming all these expensive products in the U.S. is more than odd;
it's downright crazy. Food in the U.S. is plentiful and if no longer
cheap, not necessarily expensive. So, bodybuilders and other athletes,
influenced by effective devious marketing strategies, spend a lot of
money on supplements replacing the far tastier, healthier, plentiful,
and less expensive food.
Can bodybuilders and other athletes just eat real food and train at a
high level? Of course, we can.
To illustrate this point, I've provided a food diary of a typical day
for me. I've found that I have a great deal of energy throughout the day
when I eat often. It's simply a matter of spreading the calories I
consume throughout five or six small meals.
If I want to lose some weight and body fat, I try to consistently eat
slightly less during the day, and if my weight has slipped and is too
low (a rare occurrence these days), I eat slightly more.
I'm also not entirely free from the allure of supplements. I do use a
large scoop of protein powder with my cereal, and also take a generic
multivitamin, B complex, 250 mg of vitamin C, and 250 IU of Vitamin E.
Dosages are far less than years ago because there are some data
suggesting that higher dosages of vitamins, once thought to be benign,
can be health compromising.
When I travel by plane, I also take
Clif bars, fruit or dried fruit, and lower fat cheese. Given the state
of air travel these days, I donít think anyone should get on a plane
without one or two meals in your carry-on.
All the food noted in the meals listed here are readily available almost
Another point is that over time, as
is true of many people, Iím eating more organic products. A final point
is that there is some variation day-day, although each day is similar.
Meal 1 (7:30 AM): One half cantaloupe or orange, banana, two egg beaters
and one or two regular eggs (Ďscrambledí in the microwave), two slices
of whole wheat toast or whole wheat pita, coffee.
Meal 2 (10:30 AM): One serving of grape nut cereal or some other whole
grain cereal, with 8 oz. 2% milk, 1 serving of dried prunes and 1
serving of another dried fruit such as raisins, 2 oz. of walnuts, and
one large scoop of protein powder, all mixed in the cereal.
Meal 3 (1:00 PM): One cup nonfat yogurt, one tablespoon of peanut butter
on two slices of whole wheat bread, one apple.
Meal 4 (4:00 PM): One cup of cottage cheese, one tablespoon of peanut
butter, two slices of whole wheat bread, grapes.
Meal 5 (7:00 PM): Small serving (3-4 oz) of tuna, salmon, or meat,
grains or two slices of whole wheat bread, one very large mixed salad, vinegar and oil for dressing
Meal 6 (10:00 PM): Only if hungry, 1 oz lower fat cheese, Clif Bar,
Here are some interesting totals. With the 5-6 meals, I typically
consumed about 2600 Ė 2900 calories per day, 145-160 grams of protein
(23% of calories), and very little saturated fat. I usually eat 10
servings of fruits and vegetables and consume a total of about 50 grams
of fiber a day. My food consumption is similar to what is recommended in
the DASH diet to reduce blood pressure and for Ďanti-inflammatoryí diets
for general health.
Decreasing calories to lose weight involves small changes, such as one
not two slices of bread with meals, a bit less peanut butter, and fewer
nuts mixed in with my cereal. I donít increase physical activity because
I am doing enough of that through walking and training.
The first two meals in the day are almost always about the same, and the
other four can vary each day. Some of these meals are also carted around
As Iíve gotten older, Iíve noticed
that Iím often not very hungry in the late afternoon and evening. I
always will have small meals in the late afternoon and evening, but they
are smaller than even a few years ago. This pattern likely reflects some
changes with aging and the fact that most of my physical activity is in
I haven't listed these meals to suggest that this is the Ďone bestí
approach to nutrition.
A Ďbestí approach doesn't exist. People's tastes and preferences in
types of foods, frequency of eating, and caloric requirements vary
widely. I also almost never eat desserts simply because they just don't
interest me that much. Obviously, if I ate a substantial dessert each
day, I'd have to eat less of some other foods.
I'm also not claiming that this is an inexpensive way to eat. The total
cost for the food for a day is about $15-$17. However, it's pretty easy
to blow $15 (or more) on a lunch in many cities. I don't eat out very
often. And when I do, I prefer to go to a really nice place and have
some great food.
By contrast, eating a lot of meals out makes it more difficult to eat
nutritiously and can start to cost a tidy sum. For example, if all of
this food or something akin to it is eaten out as small sit-down meals
in modest restaurants, the cost in most cities would likely be more than
$50-$60 per day, a prohibitive amount. If you need to eat a lot and eat
often, don't eat out. Save those times for special occasions.
The point is that most people in the US can eat a healthful diet that
will support active living and high-quality exercise. In the U.S., we
are fortunate to have ready access to the most anabolic diet
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