Bodybuilding is a serious sport, and as such, sacrifices must be made. But just because you’re trying to lose fat and build muscle, does that mean you have to give up all the foods you’re in love with? For instance, do you have to give up popcorn?
Bodybuilders can eat popcorn and it can even be a healthy choice to build protein and get in carbs. Air-popped popcorn (made without butter and oil) is the healthiest option. There are also plenty of “protein popcorn” options that can change popcorn from a snack into an essential part of a diet.
Popcorn isn’t the buttery villain you might think it is. Keep reading, and we’ll show you why this healthy snack should be integrated into your bodybuilding diet ASAP.
Is Popcorn Good for Bodybuilders?
The truth is, popcorn by itself isn’t going to wreck your body. Sure, when you splurge on buckets of movie theater popcorn it’s not going to be good for you. A tub of movie theater popcorn can indeed add up to one thousand (or more) calories.
But that’s not because of the popcorn. It’s because of the added salt, butter, and sometimes sugar.
Popcorn isn’t bad on its own: in fact, it’s quite healthy. It just becomes much less healthy when you drown it in butter and salt.
By itself, popcorn is extremely healthy. It’s a whole-grain snack, just like that brown bread at the grocery store. Whole-grain foods include all three parts of the grain, without anything being filtered out.
The three parts include the bran, endosperm, and germ. Bran is rich in fiber, and they contain B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, antioxidants, and more. Germ is a source of vegetable protein, healthy fats, and also fiber.
The endosperm is the middle section, filled to the brim with carbs, starch, and some protein.
Most foods that use grain just use the endosperm, which is the least healthy part of the grain. Luckily for you, popcorn contains not only the endosperm but also the bran and germ. This whole-grain snack not only tastes good, but it’s giving you nutrients that are essential to your diet.
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Yes, popcorn has carbs in it. But 1/5 of the carbs are dietary fibers (from the bran and germ), so they’re not bad for you. And remember: not all carbs are created equal. Carbs gained from eating air-popped popcorn are not the same as carbs gained from downing a box of Little Debbie’s Zebra Cakes.
One cup of plain popcorn can contain a mere 25 calories, making it a perfect snack for cutting periods. Plenty of people have eaten popcorn while cutting, and they’ve lost plenty of weight.
Some of them even eat popcorn as a post-workout meal as a way to get back energy. Popcorn is a great way to refill your body’s glycogen, which is lost during intense periods of exercise to produce ATP.
That being said, popcorn also works well as a pre-workout snack. Popcorn is made of mostly complex carbs, which makes them harder for your body to break down than simple carbs.
Simple carbs are digested quickly, give you a burst of energy (or sugar rush), and then leave you feeling drained. But complex carbs take much longer to digest, so if you eat popcorn before your workout, you’ll slowly have your energy refilled as your stomach breaks down the long chains of sugars.
Popcorn even has a bit of protein! One ounce of popcorn (28.4 g) has around 3.1 grams of protein. That’s not a lot, but it’ll help keep some protein in your system all day without having to eat a steak or a jar of peanut butter during every meal.
Popcorn is great for you. But, you might be asking, why even eat it without butter and salt? Keep reading to find healthy and tasty ways to eat popcorn without ruining your body.
What is the Best Popcorn for Bodybuilders?
Healthy popcorn is great and all, but who wants to eat dry popcorn without any flavor? Don’t worry; you’re not the only person to ask this question. Not many people like eating straight popcorn, and so, the world has come up with a variety of healthy and delicious options to choose from.
Air-popped popcorn is the best option. Something that makes popcorn unhealthy is the oil that it’s cooked in. But air-popped popcorn forgoes this issue by heating it sans oil.
Air-popped popcorn is great for you, and if you want to have butter and salt, you can add healthy amounts of each without going overboard. That way, you still get the delicious flavor and you can still eat it while cutting.
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Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop! brand popcorn is exactly what it sounds like: a smart choice for anyone trying to stay healthy. They are proud to announce that there are just “100 calories per 6 cups,” which turns out to be around 17 calories per cup of popcorn.
Their popcorn is 94% fat-free, so while it’s not totally fat-free, it’s very low fat. They also sell it in two main flavors: butter and kettle corn. And, if you’re trying to make sure not to eat too much, they have mini-size options available.
SmartPop! isn’t the only option out there. There are plenty of popcorns that boast about being low-fat or fat-free, but SmartPop! is one of the best options out there.
Other companies might claim to be healthy, but the nutritional facts tell the truth. Before buying any “healthy” popcorn, be sure to check the nutritional information (and online reviews) to see if it will be good for your diet.
Some store-bought popcorn is not only healthy but also made specifically with bodybuilders and athletes in mind. Introducing “Protein Popcorn: The product you never knew you needed.”
Popcorn is delicious and healthy, but it might not have enough protein on its own to justify eating it, especially if you’re a serious bodybuilder. Protein popcorn solves this problem by supplementing popcorn with more than enough protein (and flavor), so you can add it into your diet in good conscience.
It’s still a new concept though, so here’s a list of the best available protein popcorn around.