What is my current nutrition program?
I am frequently asked about my personal diet and exercise regime. I’ll start by saying that what works for me may not work for you. I have been exercising since I was a kid, so that’s when you have to start. I haven’t always done the same thing. I started lifting weights with greater enthusiasm when I started medical school, but running and swimming and other cardio-intensive activities took precedence for many years.
In my early 30s, I became a “bodybuilder,” but much of the transition involved dietary changes and a decrease in my cardio-oriented lifestyle. This allowed me to put some weight on, weight that I’d struggled to gain prior to that. Since I delved into the world of bodybuilding, a lifestyle change that left me eating every 3 hours, dividing my body into parts to be exercised on a scheduled basis, and attending to the nutritional and recovery needs of a competitive athlete, I have changed very little over the past 23 years. I don’t need as many calories to maintain my size in my 50s as I did in my 30s, and I’m no longer competing. So I don’t worry if I’m late for a meal, or if the composition isn’t optimal.
I’ve relaxed my diet in many ways, but that’s based on a generally balanced, healthy diet in the first place. I don’t need cheat meals, because I eat what I want to eat when I want to eat it. But I don’t eat like a pig. At least not with any regularity. And when I do, it’s at the “all-you-can-eat” sushi restaurant, not at the Cheesecake Factory or McDonald’s (where I will eat, by the way, but in moderation).
Do I use supplements?
Over the course of my bodybuilding career, I have used supplements. Number one on my list is protein, and I consume meal replacement shakes, usually at least three a day. I do this because I don’t have the time or appetite to eat a meal every three hours. If I could eat a meal that frequently, I wouldn’t bother with the protein shakes, other than for supplemental protein to meet my needs. When choosing a protein meal replacement or protein supplement, I have a few recommendations. First off, you should choose one that is good quality. There are plenty of these around. Once you’ve established the quality, the most important thing in your choice is one that you tolerate. This may sound like a peculiar requirement, but if you can’t stand the taste, or if the shakes give you the runs, you’re not likely to be consistent. Finally, determine the composition you want—high or low protein, high or low carbs, and so on. Generally, I shoot for about 30 – 50 grams of protein with each meal, so a shake with approximately 40 grams of protein is perfect for me.
I have used Creatine, Glutamine, Flaxseed oil (or other omega fatty acids), and multi-vitamins. I am inconsistent with any of this at this stage of my life. Other supplements that boost testosterone or limit estrogens or burn fat or provide a jump start to your workout may be useful for you, but they are probably more beneficial to the manufacturers’ bottom lines than to your physique. If you are doing everything else perfectly, then perhaps these supplements will give you that little added something that you need. But the most important “supplements” you need for a strong, healthy physique are a good nutritional regimen with a prudent balanced diet, which is high in protein, combined with a dedicated and consistent exercise regimen involving heavy resistance.