Heavy Cream and Bodybuilding

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Despite recent evidence that fats play a prominent role in a healthy and vibrant lifestyle, many muscle fanatics continue to persist on low-fat eating plans. While this approach is particularly well suited for some, for those more suited to a fat-based approach, low-fat meals are limiting their potential.

The prevalence of high-carbohydrate diets is a relatively new phenomena in the bodybuilding world and has caused the disappearance of some time tested bodybuilding traditions, such as the consumption of cream.

In today’s short article, we’ll examine the use of cream by bodybuilders and then consider cream’s advantages for the modern lifter.

Cream: A Staple Bodybuilding Food

As Randy Roach eloquently argued many years ago in his article on bodybuilding nutrition, before the 1980s, bodybuilders and physical culturists tended to ascribe to a high-fat, moderate protein and low-to-moderate carbohydrate diet.

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Take for example, the famous Saxon brothers trio who travelled Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century. Known for their vociferous appetites, the brothers used cream as a staple in their diets to increase the satiety and caloric intake of their meals. This pattern continued well into the twentieth-century with Golden Age bodybuilder Ric Drasin noting that from the 1950s to roughly the late 1970s, cream was an essential part of the bodybuilder’s diet. Heck Drasin even knew some bodybuilders who were found of drinking raw cream straight.

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Undoubtedly the biggest reason for this bodybuilding obsession with cream came from Vince Gironda, pictured left, and Rheo H. Blair, two of the biggest stars in bodybuilding during the latter half of the twentieth-century. Although both coaches disagreed on many things, they were both steadfast in their belief that cream was essential for muscle building. For Blair, mixing a 1/2 cup protein powder with 8oz cream and 2oz of milk mimicked the nutritional profile of human mother’s milk, one of the most anabolic substances known to man.

So what was the basis of all this? Was cream actually benefitting these bodybuilders?  

Composed primarily of fats, cream or heavy cream for our American readers, does pack quite the nutritional punch. High in fat soluble vitamins A, D and E alongside conjugated linoleic acid and coenzyme Q10, cream offers a delicious and high calorie offering to the aspiring bodybuilder. Furthermore although high in saturated fat, cream also contains poly and monounsaturated fats. As we now know (hopefully!), such fats are essential for the correct functioning of the body.

Coupled with this, given that the bodybuilders of yore often preferred raw cream, cream presented an incredibly nutritious and natural food to add to one’s diet. As bodybuilders trained for hours at a time back then, nutritious and high calorie foods were at a premium. That protein powders tasted delicious when mixed with cream didn’t hurt either!

So should you add cream to your diet?

While cream should rightfully be seen as a perfectly good nutritious food, the jury is out on whether or not it should be added to one’s diet. If you’re diet is primarily composed of carbohydrates and proteins, it would be wise to avoid a high caloric item such as cream. If on the other hand, you subsist primarily on fats and protein, there is little worry in adding a little cream to your meals.

This is based on Vince Gironda’s idea that while high carbs and protein diets or high fat and protein diet can prove excellent muscle building regimens, the combination of high carb and high fat often results in excessive weight gain and low protein intake. With this in mind, you should look at your overall diet before deciding whether or not to add cream.

If you do decide to take cream daily, why not emulate the bodybuilders of yore and secure some raw natural cream to add to your protein shakes. You may just be surprised with the results!

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Summing Up

Cream is often a neglected food in the bodybuilding world nowadays but time was when every bodybuilder worth his salt seemed to rely on the dairy product on a near daily basis. Yet times have changed and high fat foods have largely been forgotten by the bodybuilding community. Proof of this is the continued existence of egg white only meal plans.

Nevertheless it’d be nice to see fatty foods like cream finally return to the bodybuilding community.

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