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A bodybuilder ditched his low-carb diet and started eating potatoes 6 times a day. He got in the best shape of his life.


  • Bodybuilder Mark Taylor ate a low-carb, high-protein diet for decades.

  • His career never reached the heights he wanted, but everything changed when he started eating carbs.

  • Taylor now eats six portions of potatoes a day and won ‘Mr Universe’ in 2023.

As a competitive bodybuilder, Mark Taylor spent decades training hard and eating a strict low-carb diet, only to miss out on the top prizes in his native Scotland.

That was until he made a drastic change: Taylor started eating carbs, and lots of them, mostly in the form of potatoes.

Suddenly, Taylor, who was 42 at the time, was finally able to grow the muscle he’d always wanted, and he started winning the competitions he’d always dreamed of.

In 2023, Taylor won Mr. Universe Masters Over 45, one of the biggest worldwide bodybuilding competitions. Over the previous 10 years, he has been crowned Mr. England, Mr. United Kingdom, Mr. Britain, and Mr. World.

While you can’t discredit Taylor’s dedication to training and nutrition, a lot of his later-in-life success comes down to potatoes.

This might shock those who have been led to believe that carbs are the enemy of fat loss. The anti-carb movement has been around in various guises for decades. The low-carb Atkins diet was popular at the end of the 20th century, the high-fat, low-carb keto diet gained traction in the 2000s, and now there is increasing fear-mongering around blood sugar “spikes” caused by, among other things, eating carbs.

However, as Taylor found, carbs are an important part of our diets, aren’t inherently fattening, and play a key role in muscle building.

Mark TaylorMark Taylor

Mark Taylor (center) competing in Mr Universe.Mark Taylor

Carbs help replenish energy stores in our muscles

There’s no denying that protein is important for muscle growth — protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle. But carbs are important too.

Carbs provide the body with energy that is stored in the muscles as glycogen. When we exercise, we deplete these glycogen stores, so eating carbs after working out replenishes them.

When you have more energy, you can also train harder, indirectly helping you build more muscle.

Alongside eating right (in the right quantity), to build muscle you need to train hard with progressive overload and ensure you’re resting enough too.

By focusing on carbs that release energy slowly (in Taylor’s case, sweet potatoes and oats), he was able to maintain relatively stable energy levels throughout the day. Eating white potatoes, which release energy faster, after training, however, helps replenish glycogen stores faster.

Taylor started bodybuilding at a young age

As a teenager, Taylor had a job lifting crates of drinks on and off lorries, and he started growing some muscle as a result.

When he saw the cover of a men’s fitness magazine in a shop around the same time, he thought, “I wouldn’t mind trying to be like that.” So, at the age of 19, he started going to the gym.

The gym owner, a bodybuilder, spotted Taylor’s potential and invited the young man to train with him. A year later, Taylor entered his first bodybuilding competition and finished second in the “first-timers” category. The year after that, he won the overall Scottish championship.

That was the start of Taylor’s decadeslong bodybuilding career.

“I went on to win a few Scottish titles, but I was never really good enough, and by the time I was going to the British finals, I was just getting blown away,” Taylor, now 52, said. “I always felt I had the potential to go in and win all the things, but I just didn’t know how to get there.”

At that time, the idea of being Mr. Universe felt too unrealistic to even be a goal.

Taylor changed his diet 10 years ago

Taylor ate a strictly high-protein, low-carb diet when preparing for competitions because that’s what he saw other bodybuilders doing.

On an average day, Taylor might have eaten some oats at breakfast and a small portion of rice later in the day, but he said his diet mostly focused on chicken and broccoli. That’s despite his intense training regime.

“I wasn’t getting any carbohydrates for energy, so I just constantly went about feeling not very good, feeling ill, and my training wasn’t very good,” Taylor said.

That was until, in 2014, a nutritionist and coach called Vicky McCann who’d seen Taylor competing, offered to help him with his nutrition and asked him to send her his food diary.

“She just looked at it and ripped up,” Taylor said.

McCann gave him a new diet plan which consisted of 10 meals a day, with carbohydrates in each.

“That’s when I transformed my physique,” he said.

Taylor’s muscle mass grew like never before. Within a year, he finished second in Britain in a bodybuilding contest, before reaching the over-45s divisions and winning his string of titles.

Taylor eats six portions of potato a day

On McCann’s meal plan, Taylor went from eating 2,000 calories per day to around 4,000, which increased to 6,000 over the following years.

It took a couple of weeks to get used to eating double the amount of food, and at first he worried eating so much more, especially carbs, would jeopardize the physique he wanted. But within a couple of weeks, Taylor could see it had the opposite effect.

His daily diet now is:

  • 150 grams of oats

  • 6 meals of 300 grams of sweet potato with 100 grams of chicken

  • 1 carb recovery drink

  • 350 grams of white potato with 120 grams of chicken, and broccoli

  • 5 egg whites scrambled with 1 whole egg

Taylor doesn’t count calories or macros, but he and Vicky tweak his diet depending on his appearance.

Eating more carbs helped Taylor have more energy for his five weekly workouts, and it made his muscles feel more “full,” he said.

Incredibly, 10 years in, Taylor isn’t bored of potatoes, he said. And the results are worth it.

“When I keep all my carbs high, I’ve got a much bigger and more ripped physique,” he said. “If I cut them out, I’ve got a smaller, flat-looking physique and it actually doesn’t look as hard.”

He added: “It’s ridiculous the amount of food you can put away and get ripped.”

Read the original article on Business Insider



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