T Nation

The Naturals' Diets

What do you guys think of these diets I see springing up here and there (mostly among “Naturals”)where basically all they eat all day are Protein Shakes, MRP’s, Supplements and occasionally some Oatmeal? Their rational is that they “eat” for optimal nutrition, not taste. Well…some of them exhibit some great physiques, but is it “neccessary” to be so extreme? Are the rest of us “taste eaters” missing out on maximizing our nutrition? I really think not. But I would love to hear your opinions…

I used to exist on almost exclusively whey protein and meal replacements. I have switched now, and have roughly half on my meal from real food, and half (especially postworkout) from shakes. I have gone from 190 at 15% bodyfat to 191 at 7.5% bodyfat in two years while doing similar supplementation and training. So I think it has helped. Real food especially fruits and veggies have phytochemicals, fiber, and nutrients that you will not get from shakes, and it makes my time on the porcelin throne much less excriciating.

Mufasa, I think you’re referring to Skip LaCour and Jeff Willet. Yeah, they live off exactly what you described for about 20 weeks coming up to the Team Universe. During the rest of the year though, Skip eats tuna, chicken, rice, canola oil, eggs, and a shitload of vege’s. They prefer to call this “optimal nutrition”. And hell yeah, to the average guy thats pretty extreme. But we also gotta take in to account that these guys aren’t average. Their career counts on eating exactly how they do. They found what works for them, and you can’t really argue with their results. Is it possible to reach their level without being so meticulous? Probably. But it’s not only eating for function. It’s just plain easier to stay on a diet that strict when you don’t even entertain the thought of cheating. It’s not an option, so it won’t bother you. It’s mentally tough, but again, you can’t really argue with their successes.

Personally, I’ve tried pretty much the exact diet that Skip LaCour used in 1998- I have his training journal which isn’t online anymore, but I kept the link, and somehow I can still retrieve it. I have to say that following his mindset and diet I got into the best shape I’ve ever been in, big and shredded, and have kept this consistently for 3 years. I’ve been progressing consistently.

And it seems that everyone and his mother thinks skip is juicing and full of shit, but the only shit I take is creatine and some androsol once in a while. So his results are believable to me.

The only problem I see with that type of eating program is that you would be missing out on alot of beneficial compounds found in whole foods, which aren’t found in supplements. What I am talking about is ‘phytochemicals’ in plant foods, and other substances like fibers, trace minerals, etc.

I don’t understand the rationale behind this. How could you possibly eat for optimal nurtition when you don’t take in any real food? Real food contains all sorts of nutrients that we haven’t even begun to understand. Food also tends to have the nutrients we DO understand in the right proportions. I don’t think it’s necessary to be this extreme at all… pretty foolish, actually.

I think their way is an excellent way for preparing for a contest. You really do have to be pretty meticulous. For you guys arguing about phytonutrients and eating “real food” and the rest- First, these guys are competetive bodybuilders. There not necessarily eating for optimal “health” They’re eating to grow the most muscle and lose the most fat. Also, this is not a lifetime diet. There is a purpose to the diet. As with the nutrients- They’e eating the proper macronutrients in proper ratio to acomodate their goals. Their micronutrients come from MRP’s and multi’s. Like Mike said, you can’t argue with their success. I’d be willing to bet this diet would be much healthier in the long run that say a higher fat diet- like anabolic diet, or t- dawg or any of the others. Also, I’d be willing to bet they’ll be a lot healthier in 20 years that your average bodybuilder who bulks up on “real food” and cuts up for contest.

Edge, good point… if it’s short term (and I took it to be long term at first) then maybe it’s not so bad. Still, I would think they could get the same sorts of benefits from controlling their macronutrient ratios with real food. But hey, if it works, it works, right?

Granted, I’ve never done it to that extreme, but I’ve tried the ‘no real food’ diet. Actually, I just fell off that wagon this week. Sure, people say that eating is for nutrition, not nenjoyment, but I enjoy the flavor and texture of food. Bars and shakes are just not cutting it for me, especially from the angle of complete boredom!!! I’m going to rearrange my eating habits in the next week (again) and hopefully can find a happy medium!

My diet 95% of the time consists of protein shakes, meats, cheese and eggs. Period. One day every 7-10 I will eat whatever…not going overboard. It has become a “way of life”, so I don’t miss all the other crap I used to eat.

I work for a company that specializes in meal replacements and other nutritional products used in medical supervised obesity treatment. We have morbidly obese patients using only meal replacements for up to 12 weeks. Because there are virtually no choices, compliance is terrific, so the weight loss is very good. The scientific term for this is “stimuli narrowing”.

It’s true that the patient probably is missing out on some nutrients, like phytochemicals and fiber - but the diet is so short-term it’s not a problem medically. When you think about, most Americans are not getting much phytochemicals or fiber in their whole food diets anyway! The bottom line is using meal replacement work because they are boring. You don’t find yourself eating because you want to relax or because you’re frustrated, etc. So, you end up eating mostly just for physical hunger and eat a lot less calories.

Brooklyn Mike, you say you used Skip’s 98 diet and got in a great shape? Was the diet based on MRPs, whey and veggies? If so, did you follow exactly what he did, using AST supps. and all?

Just to add a point or two as I’ve looked at these regimens.

1)It is VERY easy to “see where you are” nutritionally on these diets. (I think that it’s agreed upon that the “naturals” have to be MUCH more meticulous about their diets than the ones who use more phamaceuticals).

2)In keeping with #1, these diets are MUCH easier to manipulate as one looks at the changes in their bodies.

However…this all still begs the question that Spany poses; how can this be called “optimal” nutrition? Then again…perhaps it IS “optimal” for the goals these guys have and how they intend on reaching them. Just some thoughts…


Hey Neil. Actually, the diet was similar to his current diet of:Pre-Workout - 4AM - 2 scoops of VP2 Whey Protein Isolate; 1 scoop of Creatine HSC.

Post-Workout - 6AM - 2 scoops of VP2 Whey Protein Isolate; 1 scoop of Creatine HSC.

Meal #1 - 7 AM - 9 egg whites; 1 large bowl of vegetables; 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil; 1 - 2 servings of oatmeal or grits, 1 scoop of VP2 Whey Protein Isolate.

Meal #2 - 9 AM - Ny-Tro Pro 40.

Meal #3 -11AM - 4 - 6 ounces of chicken breast; 1 large bowl of vegetables mixed with a healthy portion of iceberg lettuce to make a good salad; 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil; balsamic vinegar; 1 scoop of VP2 Whey Protein Isolate.

Meal #4 - 1PM - Ny-Tro Pro 40.

Meal #5 - 3PM - 4 - 6 ounces of chicken breast; 1 large bowl of vegetables mixed with a healthy portion of iceberg lettuce to make a good salad; 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil; balsamic vinegar; 1 scoop of VP2 Whey Protein Isolate.

Meal #6 - 5PM - Ny-Tro Pro 40.

Meal #7 - 7PM - 4 - 6 ounces of chicken breast; 1 large bowl of vegetables mixed with a healthy portion of iceberg lettuce to make a good salad; 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil; balsamic vinegar; 1 scoop of VP2 Whey Protein Isolate.

Meal #8 - 9PM - Ny-Tro Pro 40.

Thanks for the feedback Brooklyn. Did you actually build muscle on this diet, or was it more of a cutting program?

I have to agree with Spanky on this one. While I understand the need to progress to a higher standard in terms of nutrition when you become a national level natural bodybuilder, especially to be able to compete against possible drug users.

And I do believe in using supplementation for a extra boost and to also make up for what I may possibly be missing from my diet. But that's it.

Because, I'm a "traditional gal" when it comes to nutrition. I like food, I prefer food. Even Skip and Jeff don't consume just Shakes, MRPs', and supplements everyday, only when in pre-contest. But then I wonder, "what if" they were to incorporate good old fashioned food? How then, would they look? I believe in a happy medium. To gain knowledge in how to use optimal nutrition via food sources to improve my conditioning. I also wish I had the endorsements Jeff and Skip have so that I could afford the way they "eat" - but I don't. I have to go grocery shopping like every other person. That's how I look at it. I don't have 300-500 extra bucks a month to spend on MRPs', Protein powders and supplements. And I'm sure what they get costs MUCH more than that....