This article about the bodybuilding journey is a contributed post by fitness writer Shannon Turnbull.
Bodybuilding is a holistic journey that affects many aspects of your lifestyle — including your diet. Studies have shown that bodybuilder diets are more about quality than quantity, and nutrition plays a vital role.
We’ve previously discussed how vegan diet programmes can still build muscle despite common criticisms of the lack of protein-dense foods.
That’s because vegan bodybuilders take care to supplement the gaps in their nutrition through options like quality vegan protein powder and vegan-friendly sources of Omega-3 and ZMA.
Focusing on nutrition allows even practising vegans to build up to their desired body goals.
You can do this, too, regardless of your chosen diet and lifestyle, as long as you follow some essential nutrition guidelines. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out what these guidelines are.
Protein is a critical component in every bodybuilding programme. That’s primarily due to amino acids, which help repair and maintain muscle tissue after working out. Athletes following high-volume, high-intensity training programs will require more protein than the general population.
Failing to stock up on protein before bodybuilding may lead to overtraining and/or injury. This is when your muscles ache more than usual, and your body feels generally weaker. You may also have trouble sleeping and see your mental health suffer.
In some cases, you may lose muscle instead of gaining it due to the lack of calories to maintain weight.
Fats should not be avoided, and in fact, they are vital for bodybuilding. They aid with vitamin and mineral absorption for faster muscle growth while deep in your bodybuilding journey.
Instead, centre your nutrition plan around unsaturated fats, which come from plant-based foods and oils, and fatty fish. As you do so, also limit your saturated fats — fats that are naturally found in animal products — to just 10% of your daily calories.
Another popular misconception in bodybuilding is that fat can be transposed into muscle without the need for weight loss. However, science has proven that losing body fat is essential to bodybuilding. That’s because our bodies need to be in an anabolic state to gain muscle, and fat can then be regained through bulking up.
It’s easier to achieve these gains by focusing on shedding any body fat above 15%. Balancing your fat-to-muscle ratio can be tricky, but that is why it is best to invest in a weight loss programme tailored to your needs.
These use personal assessments to determine an individualised food list and unique budget to suit your fitness goals.
Personalised weight loss programmes already factor in calories, protein and fibre while differentiating between natural and added sugars. A weight loss program can also distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fats. This helps bodybuilders healthily lose weight to maximise the bulking-up process afterwards.
Bodybuilding is not all tough workouts and diet regimens. Bodybuilders frequently implement ‘refeeds’ and cheat meals in their weight loss plan because the strategy offers a psychological reprieve, while the boost in calories spikes one’s metabolism. This allows bodybuilders to burn more calories while getting leaner.
Moderation, of course, is advised to reap the full benefits. Therefore, before starting your bodybuilding journey, meal prepping for a week in advance is heavily advised. This will allow you to factor every nutritional need in your diet while fitting in appropriate cheat days.
It’s important to remember that bodybuilding will always have ups and downs. However, with thorough planning and a review of the vital nutrients, every aspiring bodybuilder can expect their results to get better and better.
Shannon Turnbull is a freelance writer and fitness enthusiast. Having grown up in a family of sports lovers, she strongly advocates for the health and wellness of athletes. When she’s not writing, you can catch her in a sports bar or hiking through the nearest local trail.
Matt Smith is the owner of Beer N Biceps. He has a degree in Sports Science, 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry, and has written for hundreds of fitness websites. He is a lover of good quality beer and believes that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy lifestyle.