I’ve seen plenty of people get a nervous look in their eye whenever the word ‘anabolic’ is mentioned. No wonder, because they strongly associate the word with anabolic steroids… so an anabolic diet, they may misconstrue, means a diet which may somehow involve consuming an anabolic steroid.
You needn’t worry. Anabolic is simply a word which means growth; anabolic steroids, therefore, mean growth steroids.
But we’re not here to talk about steroids. We’re here to talk about an anabolic diet. An anabolic diet, is simply a diet which is designed to provide enough nutrients and fuel for muscle growth (anabolism).
More often than not, an anabolic diet will contain a healthy balance of all 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
While proteins and fats are absolutely necessary to build muscle, carbohydrates are not. In fact, bodybuilding guru Vince Gironda didn’t seem too keen on carbohydrates at all, and recommended diets which were pretty much made up entirely of protein, with healthy fat supplementation.
Of course, just because you aren’t including carbohydrates doesn’t mean the rules of calories goes out of the window. You still need to eat more calories than your body needs to gain muscle, only you’ll be getting your calories from protein and fats only.
Vince Gironda firmly believed the single most anabolic diet a person could go on was that of eggs and beef.
Other excellent protein sources include whey, milk (particularly during the night, as milk protein is slow releasing), chicken, fish and cheese.
In order to remain anabolic, a person must keep a steady stream of nutrients going into their system, so an optimum anabolic diet will comprise of a lot of smaller meals (anywhere between 6 – 8) taken in every 2-3 hours.
Cutting out carbs also means that you can – and will need to – take in more protein to bring the calorie count up, and so limiting carbs or cutting them out entirely may be a good way of freeing calorie (and stomach) space up for extra protein, which most lifers could benefit greatly from.
Excellent sources of healthy fat to support muscle growth which should be included in an anabolic diet are either flaxseed oil or fish oils.
Carbohydrates are popular for a lot of people because they provide such a quick and abundant supply of energy, given they are so quickly converted into glycogen for the muscles, they are excellent for pre and post workout.