Your bodybuilding success is largely determined by a number of factors. Training hard and consistently is one of them, as is getting adequate rest, which is imperative for muscle growth and recovery. Two more biggies on the list are persistence and intensity. Consistency is another prerequisite, but the single most important ingredient that determines your bodybuilding success (or failure), is, by far, nutrition. Most bodybuilders and trainers are in agreement that bodybuilding nutrition accounts for up to 75 % of whether you achieve below average results or reap optimum rewards for your hard training efforts. Don’t put your faith into quick-fix diets or new fad diets that pop up every other week. Instead, simply eat well-balanced meals to ensure that you are getting the proper macronutrients into your system.
If you are like a lot of people, and have tried every diet supplement under the sun but the closest thing that resembles real food in your house is a box of “Lucky Charms”cereal, you’re in for real trouble. Supplements have a place in a person’s diet, but you should always opt for real food whenever possible. I see too many people who drink five protein shakes a day and eat only one solid food meal, then complain how they are going nowhere in their bodybuilding efforts, and are always lacking energy. A supplement is just that, an item to “supplement” the diet which should be comprised mainly of whole nutritious foods. Don’t supplement your supplements with food, but do just the opposite: use them wisely as an adjunct to your diet. Here are some eating tips to help you on your way to physical perfection:
- Eat breakfast: after a fast of eight hours of sleep, your body is in dire need of nutrients to take you out of a catabolic state and to keep your metabolism stoked. Your metabolism slows down considerably while sleeping, so jump start your day with a well balanced high protein, high carbohydrate breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!
- Eat more often: having five to six meals a day has many advantages. Frequent meals help to keep blood sugar levels stable. This will also aid in better digestion and assimilation of food, as well as better absorption of essential macronutrients. More frequent meals also help to keep the waistline down because they do not stretch the stomach, and help to keep the body in an anabolic state. Try your best to eat every two and a half to three hours for best results.
- Slow down: take the time to enjoy your food. Eating slower will help you to eat less, which will aid you in your weight loss struggles. Masticating (chewing) your food thoroughly will also aid in digestion. Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth, so chew your food well before ingesting it. You will only use the food that your body absorbs after digestion – anything else will be excreted.
- Stay hydrated: thirst is the first outward sign of dehydration. Don’t wait to get thirsty, drink fresh clean water all throughout the day. Water does so many things to benefit your body’s health that it would take a separate article to list all of its attributes. In bodybuilding, not drinking enough water is one of the most common mistakes, and one of the easiest to correct. Carry a 20 oz. sports bottle with you at all times and refill it when necessary. Water also helps you to lose body fat by keeping the metabolism stoked and creating a sensation of fullness in the stomach, which enables you to eat enough for your individual needs without overeating.
- Limit late night carbs: eating excess carbohydrates at night when you are less active is a big no-no. Laying around watching TV or going to sleep after eating a high carb meal makes it easy to store the excess carbs as fat. Eat the majority of your carbs early in the day and at your post-workout meal, when they can be used to replenish glucose and glycogen levels, as well as for fuel.
- Variety is the spice of life: spice up an otherwise boring menu by including a variety of foods in your diet. Far too many people today don’t eat fruits or vegetables at all, even bodybuilders. Some dietary restrictions are necessary and valid during pre-contest dieting, but in the off-season you should be looking to eat more fruits and vegetables, along with your other bodybuilding foods. The people whom I alluded to earlier, who drink five protein shakes a day, are missing out on a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals that are desperately needed to build a great physique. Bake, broil, boil,or steam your foods to avoid excess fats used in frying, and to keep from losing valuable nutrients. Eat a well- balanced diet composed of the four basic food groups.
- Eat your favorite foods: to lose weight, it’s not necessary to go on fad diets that require you to eat just a few select foods to help you lose weight. Diets like “The Cabbage Diet”, “The Grapefruit Diet”,”The Juice Diet”, etc., are just not healthy for you at all. They deprive the body of important nutrients, and are also dangerous. To make it more tolerable to lose weight, eat foods that you like but cut down the portion size. Of course if chocolate cake happens to be one of your favorite foods, then you have to be a little tougher on yourself. Eat good healthy foods that you enjoy, in moderate quantities.
- Don’t miss meals: here’s where consistency comes into the picture again. The body thrives on routine, so eat five to six meals a day, every single day, depending on your goals. Try to eat at approximately the same time every day, and eat every two and a half to three hours. You will never realize even half of your potential if your eating habits are inconsistent. Spot-on nutrition is vital for overall good health and optimal bodybuilding progress. Be adamant and methodical in your approach to a superior eating regimen.
- Add fiber to your diet: there are a myriad of health benefits you will reap when you add more fiber to your diet. A new study finds that dietary fiber from cereals and fruits, but not vegetables, is associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber also swells up in your stomach and in your intestines creating a sensation of being full which will curtail you from overeating if you are trying to lose weight. High fiber foods are also digested more slowly, so they don’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels like white bread or sweets do. The average American eats 12 grams of fiber per day, and most health organizations recommend 20-35 grams. Fiber not only promotes overall general health, but can also significantly aid in your fat-burning efforts. People who eat the most fiber (about 25 grams per day) weigh eight pounds less than those who ate the least (about 12 grams per day)
- Supplement your diet: supplements are a great adjunct to your diet to help ensure that you get all the necessary vitamins,minerals, and protein that you require daily. Choose your supplements wisely as there are so many hyped up products on the market today that will produce questionable results, if any at all. I briefly touched upon taking supplements earlier in the article, and I will say again: do not rely on supplements at the expense of eating whole food. First and foremost, eat good food. Then add in the supplements. Use the time-tested ones that are documented to produce results, over the hyped up ones. A few good ones that I recommend are: Whey or Milk & Egg protein powder , Branched Chain Amino Acids, Creatine Multi Vitamin , Vitamin C , Vitamin E , and Chelated Minerals . You can’t go wrong with these as they are proven to be effective.
Remember, there is nothing more anabolic than good old nutritious food! Train Hard!