The pumpkin obsession in America is really just a thinly-veiled attempt for big food companies to sell us “seasonality” in the form of the same sugary foods with a little pumpkin-spice flavoring added to the mix. It’s a marketing gimmick. And it works. Most of those pumpkin-flavored things are just that…pumpkin-flavored. They have no “pumpkin” in them.
Those marketing masters are onto something though. People want to eat seasonally. Our bodies are designed to crave variety, to respond to external stimuli, to change, to adapt, to sink into patterns and then break them. In the bodybuilding world, we have our own version of seasonality: bulking and cutting seasons.
So here’s the real question—can we live in both worlds? Is it possible for us to buy into the pumpkin craze and stay on target for our goals? Is it possible for bulking season and seasonal eating to go hand-in-hand without just diving headfirst into a Pumpkin Spice Latte and swimming in a pool of piping-hot sucrose?
The answer, it turns out, is a resounding YES… just not the way coffee shops and food companies would have you do it. First: Pumpkin itself has a lot of things going for it nutritionally. Plus, a few health food companies have hopped on the seasonal bandwagon, providing pumpkin-flavored options that are both cheat-worthy and macro friendly. Just beware which ones you grab. Not all “protein bars” are made equal.
Depending on whether you’re on the tried-and-true fall bulking schedule or cutting down after a few too many margaritas by the pool this summer, pumpkin is an incredibly versatile food than can serve either goal, depending on what part you eat.