I have been following Field Strong and the Bulking Protocol and making great gains but I am having trouble find protein sources when traveling and away from home. If I am lucky enough to prepare my snacks, I survive on cold meat loaf and chicken. If I am not so lucky, I am at the mercy of some airport kiosk and you know how that goes. What do you eat when you are on the road or in a bind?
When it comes to bulking up and putting on muscle, food selection is as important as meal frequency and intake volume.
But what foods are paramount to creating bigger, stronger athletes?
If you have been to a CrossFit Football seminar or been around Power Athlete Nation, you know we survive on the belief that “flesh builds flesh”. Our primary tool for creating muscle mass is meat. This is due to it's complete amino acid profile, our body's hormonal reaction to consumption and increased creatine production.
The reason being; exercise has an effect on muscle growth, as it can only occur if muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown. What this means is there must be a positive protein balance in the body to build muscle. Lifting weights creates protein balance but in the absence of increased protein intake the body becomes catabolic and muscle is destroyed.
How does this work?
The effect of muscle protein metabolism as it relates to resistance exercise lasts for 24-48 hours. This means the interaction between muscle metabolism and the meal you consume around your workout will impact the body’s ability to put on muscle.
Amino acids work to regulate muscle protein metabolism with an interaction between post-exercise processes and amino acid availability. By having a larger pool of amino acids to pull from an athlete can maximize protein synthesis. This will result in a greater anabolic effect.
Hormones, like insulin and testosterone, are regulators for muscle hypertrophy. Following a hard training session, insulin plays a role in muscle protein synthesis. Therefore, consuming amino acids and carbohydrates post workout can increase the anabolic effect.
Creatine is another vital player in putting on muscle and increasing performance. The amount of creatine stored in the body depends directly on how much muscle mass the individual carries. Between 60-80% of the creatine in the body comes from diet and natural synthesis. Creatine is often misunderstood for what it does, and more importantly, what it does not do.
Creatine is turned into ATP in the body and ATP is your primary energy source for short bursts of energy. During short bouts of hard training your body taps into creatine phosphate stores to convert to ATP for energy. However, if you only have minimal amounts of creatine phosphate stored in your muscles, you won’t have enough ATP to power through your workout. This will result in muscle fatigue and failure.
Essentially, you won’t have the short-term energy (ATP) to keep fueling performance.
Many people have vilified creatine for dehydrating athletes. Creatine volumizes the cell by bringing additional water into the muscle. This additional fluid expands the muscles giving them a more full appearance. While many people believe this is a negative, studies have shown this additional fluid in the muscle results in increased strength and muscle gains.
And just on a side note, vegetables and non-vertebrate sources of meat do not contain creatine.
So now you know why we consume meat, but what are the best sources of protein to meet our gains?
Red meat is our source of amino acids and creatine as it contains high amounts of these nutrients.
I survive on steak, ground beef and beef jerky. With dried meats containing up to 13 grams of creatine per kilogram and are able to retain 90% of their creatine content.
What this means is, if I am traveling or in a pinch, I survive on Well Food Company Beef Jerky. It is the best jerky on the market, hands down.