Bodybuilding Diet Tips
Fuel Your Body Well
It’s far too easy to get carried away with creating a flawless exercise regime; one that will see you progressively pile on the muscle week by week, moulding you into a dream-like shape. While there’s nothing wrong with precise workout planning, the only way you’ll get near your fitness goals is to look at diet—under a microscope. What we put in our mouth every day will determine whether we build muscle or lose fat. Diet is that important. With that said, let’s look at some key tips to get you heading the right way.
Determine Current Goals
If you’re a serious bodybuilder, you’ll be alternating between periods of solid muscle-building (bulking) and fat burning phases to look lean (cutting). Depending on where you’re at, your diet will change quite a bit. When putting on muscle, you should be consuming a larger amount of complex carbohydrates in your food, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice. Your calorie intake will need to be higher than what you burn.
During your cutting phase, significantly reduce the intake of these carbs, saving them for the meals before and after a workout. You’ll need to keep protein levels high, even while in this fat-burning cycle, to maintain muscle mass. Being in a caloric deficit is required to reduce fat levels.
Don’t Misunderstand Fat
Having to include fat in your diet may seem as if you’re going against the grain—especially if fat loss is your present goal. But the truth is that fat is vital for a healthy body. It’s a source of energy, which will be valuable to those intense gym sessions. It’s also involved in the growth of cells and has a role to play in the transporting and taking up of vitamins.
However, before you start joining the line for cakes, make sure you’re after the correct type of fat. Unsaturated fats are healthy and help to keep the body functioning well. Foods like olive oil, peanut butter, nuts, seeds and avocados are all good for us, and some of these are high in protein.
Limit Troublesome Food
Being in a bulking phase doesn’t mean that anything goes when it comes to food and drink. Although you need a high-calorie diet to build muscle, packing this with foods full of saturated fats will only hinder your overall progress. Yes, you’ll get big—but it won’t be just muscle. Putting on too much fat at this stage will make your job harder when it comes to getting lean. Here are some of the foods you should look to severely limit or cut out altogether:
- Alcohol and fizzy drinks
- Deep-fried food
- Added sugars – foods like cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates and ice cream.
The trouble with these foods and drinks are that they offer little, or no nutritional benefit and are often referred to as empty calories.
Load Up on Protein
If size is what you’re after, your body needs to recover and repair muscles after you’ve thrashed them at the gym. For this to happen, you’ll have to consume quality protein—and lots of it. Thankfully, there are many ways to get this; the most common being from animal sources such as eggs, meat, fish and milk. Plant-based protein is also available and effective, like quinoa and tofu.
Due to our busy lives, it’s not always easy to prepare and eat protein-packed meals regularly throughout the day. This is where protein supplements show their worth. Whey protein is hugely valuable to muscle growth and can be prepared and taken in minutes. Ideal for a post-workout hit.
It’s one thing to be aware of all the good stuff our body needs, but when does it need it? It’s crucial to be nutritionally equipped at the right time, starting with pre-workout. Depending on how light or heavy your meal is, it’s best to eat between 1-3 hours before a workout (a lighter meal means working out sooner; heavier will be closer to the 2-3-hour mark). Stock up on starchy foods like pasta, rice or porridge and add some protein. Drink plenty of water before a session too.
During a workout, you’ll mainly need to focus on drinking water. Being hydrated is a crucial, yet often forgotten necessity.
After a workout, it’s key to replace the lost carbohydrates from the session. Again, consuming something starchy will be beneficial. Your muscles will also need a protein boost right after a workout, and it’s a good time to take a quick whey protein shake or have some meat to go with the carbs. As always, you should drink plenty of water at this stage too.
Do It Your Way
There’s an abundance of advice on bodybuilding diets. However, our bodies are all unique and respond in various ways. The best you can do is take the advice and see what works. Through trial and error, the pieces of this jigsaw will start to fit, and you’ll know what to take, when to take it and in what quantity.