Whether it’s competitive or recreational, bodybuilding is considered a lifestyle which includes the time you spend inside the gym as well as the time you spend outside the gym. Bodybuilding’s main focus is to build muscle via weightlifting and sound nutrition.
In order to maximize muscle gains from the gym, you must focus on your diet, nutrition and supplementation, as consuming the wrong foods and/or supplements can be detrimental to your bodybuilding objectives.
This article will explain what to eat and what not to eat when bodybuilding.
The Basics of Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding differs from Olympic style lifting and powerlifting in that it is mainly judged on competitor’s physique rather than physical strength. Bodybuilders therefore aim to develop a lean, symmetrical and muscular physique.
In order to develop then maintain this type of physique, many bodybuilders begin with an off-season followed by an on-season, or the bulking phase and the cutting phase, respectively.
During the bulking phase, which can last anywhere between months to years, bodybuilders restrict themselves to a high-calorie diet, rich in protein. They also lift heavy weights with the goal of building as much muscle mass as they possibly can.
During the cutting phase, bodybuilders focus on trimming as much fat as possible from their frame while maintaining as much muscle mass from the bulking phase as they can. They achieve this by implementing specific changes to their diet and routine and follow this regimen over a period of 11–28 weeks.
The Benefits of Bodybuilding
There are several health perks which are associated with bodybuilding:
To maintain and build muscle mass, bodybuilders exercise regularly, carrying out both resistance (anaerobic) and aerobic training. Resistance training is known to increase muscle size and strength and muscle strength is associated with a lower risk of dying from kidney disease, heart disease and even cancer. Muscle strength is also associated with a lower risk of dying from several other critical illnesses.
Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, lowers your risk of heart disease and also improves heart health. Bodybuilders regularly perform aerobic exercise in order to reduce body fat.
In addition to exercise, bodybuilders also key in on their nutrition and supplements. Bodybuilders usually eat in a way that keeps them healthy and also augments their training in the gym.
Following a healthy eating pattern which includes nutrient-dense foods, and consuming workout supplements for men and women can drastically change your physique and help you pack on more muscle mass.
Bodybuilders exercise frequently, eat nutrient-dense food and consume bodybuilding supplements for muscle growth and overall health while enjoying several health benefits.
Macronutrients and Calories
As mentioned previously, the goal for competitive bodybuilding is to increase muscle mass during the bulking phase and lowering body fat during the cutting phase. Therefore it is important to consume more calories during the former than the later i.e. consume more calories during the bulking phase than during the cutting phase.
How Many Calories are a Good Amount and How Do I Track Number of Calories Consumed?
The best way to track the number of calories you need and how many calories you are consuming is to weigh yourself on a scale at least four times/week and by recording what you eat using a tracking app.
If your weight does not change then the number of calories you eat per day is referred to as your “Maintenance” or up-keep calories. Maintenance or up-keep because you are nether gaining or losing weight. Calories in = Calories burned.
During the bulking phase, it’s suggested to boost your caloric intake by 15-20%. For instance, should your maintenance level be 3,000 calories/day, you should consume approximately 3,450 -3,600 calories per day.
When moving to the cutting phase, you would then decrease your maintenance caloric intake by 15-20%, meaning you would consume 2,400-2,550- calories/day instead of 3,450-3,600 calories/day.
Increase your overall calories while you are gaining weight during the bulking phase and decrease your overall calories while you are losing weight during the cutting phase for continuous progress.
While you are gaining weight in the bulking phase or losing weight during the cutting phase, you may find it difficult to meet the requirements from your diet alone. It is common for bodybuilders to consume various dietary supplements for athletes. You can purchase these products from your local sports supplement store or opt to buy bodybuilding supplements online.
Keep in mind that it is not recommended to gain or lose more than 0.5–1% of your body weight/week to ensure you don’t gain too much body fat during the bulking phase or lose too much muscle-mass during the cutting phase.
Ratio of Macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats)
Once you determine the number of calories you require, you can figure out the ratio of macronutrients (Protein: Carbohydrates: Fat).
Regardless of the changes in your caloric intake between the cutting phase and bulking phase, your ratio of macronutrients will not change.
Protein and carbohydrates both contain 4 kilocalories/gram, while fat contains 9 kilocalories/gram.
Bodybuilders usually get:
- Approximately 28–35% of their calories from protein.
- Approximately 53–60% of their calories from carbohydrates.
- and approximately 13–20% of their calories from fat.
These are common practices, however, it is best to consult with your dietitian in order to figure out your individual requirements based on your bodybuilding goals and to be assured you are meeting your nutritional requirements.
Synopsis: Caloric intake differs between the bulking and cutting phases. The macronutrient ratio remains unchanged. To account for all calories you can purchase men’s and women’s best weight gainers as well as other discount sports supplements online or at your local supplement store.
Bodybuilding Nutrition: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Diet is a key part of bodybuilding. Eating the correct foods in the right portions as well as the right times will provide your muscles with the nutrients and environment they need in order to recover and grow. Contrarily, eating the wrong foods will leave you with inferior results.
Below is a list of foods to eat and also foods you should avoid:
Foods to Eat
Between the bulking and cutting phases, the foods you eat do not need to differ only the amounts you eat do.
- Legumes and Beans: Black beans, Chickpeas, Kidney beans, pinto beans and lentils.
- Nuts and Seeds: Chia seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.
- Vegetables and Fruits: Green beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, salad greens, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers. Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, peaches, pears, berries and watermelon.
- Meats, fish and poultry: Chicken breast, sirloin steak, salmon, cod, ground beef, pork tenderloin, venison and tilapia.
- Oils: Olive oil, avocado oil and flaxseed oil.
- Grains: Quinoa, bread, popcorn, cereal, rice, crackers and oatmeal.
- Dairy Products: Cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and low-fat milk.
- Starchy Vegetables: Green lima beans, potatoes, cassava, corn, and green peas.
Foods to Avoid
While you should include a variety of foods in your diet, there are some foods you should avoid:
- Foods that are deep-fried: Deep-fried foods may promote inflammation and when consumed in excess, lead to disease. Examples of deep-fried food include fries, onion rings, cheese curds, chicken strips, fried fish, fried chicken, fried chicken wings, fried vegetables, and fried rice.
- Added sugars: These foods are abundant in calories but offer few nutrients. Added sugars are sugars and syrups which are added to foods or beverages when they are prepared or processed. Foods that are high in added sugars include but are not limited to ice cream, cake, cookies, candy, doughnuts and beverages such as soda.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can greatly reduce your ability to build muscle and shed fat.
Many bodybuilders take dietary supplements which are useful to add to a nutritious diet.
The best bodybuilding supplements for muscle growth or burning fat include:
- Creatine: Creatine will provide your muscles with the extra energy needed to perform additional repetitions. It also transfers water into muscle cells and helps to stimulate growth with increased Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Some popular creatine supplements include MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine, MusclePharm Creatine and BSN Creatine. Creatine monohydrate powder is a widely preferred a commonly used supplement. You can buy creatine powder supplements online or at your local sports nutrition and supplements store.
- Whey protein supplements: Consuming whey protein powder is a convenient and easy way to increase your total protein intake. Some of the most popular and best whey protein powder supplements include Muscle Pharm Combat Protein Powder, MuscleTech Nitro-Tech, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey and Isopure Low Carb.
- Caffeine: Caffeine decreases fatigue and allows you to train and work harder. It is commonly found in tea, coffee and pre-workout supplements for women as well as pre workout supplements for men. Although it may seem daunting to find the best pre workout for men and women some popular and worthwhile products include EVLution Nutrition ENGN, Cellucor C4 Original, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout and BSN NO Xplode.
Mineral supplements and Multi vitamins may be helpful if you’re limiting your caloric intake in order to reduce body fat during your cutting phase. Thermogenic fat burners may also prove useful in this context. Fat burner supplements can help you shed unwanted fat, improve your metabolic rate and also supports thermogenesis. These products assist in weight loss and are commonly added to weight loss regimens to increase the amount of calories burned. You can buy fat burner supplements online or at your local sports supplement store.
Synopsis Include a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all main food groups in your diet. Avoid food with added sugars, foods which are deep-fried and foods that contain alcohol or alcoholic beverages. In addition to a sound diet, sports nutrition and bodybuilding supplements such as whey protein powder, creatine powder and pre workout supplements which also contain caffeine can be useful supplements.
Bodybuilding is a sport that is judged on the basis of leanness, symmetry and muscularity rather than strength and athletic performance.
Achieving the desired results depend upon regular exercise and a proper diet.
Bodybuilding is commonly divided into the bulking phase and the cutting phase, over which your caloric intake will vary while your ratio of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) remains the same.
Normally your diet will include foods dense in nutrients, while restricting or limiting deep-fried foods, foods with added sugars and finally restricting alcohol consumption.
These guidelines will ensure that you get all the important nutrients your body requires for building muscle and achieve great overall health.