As with any athlete, nutrition is essential for the body builder. Proper nutrition can help to increase muscle mass, improve strength and endurance, reduce the risk of injury, and optimize performance. Nutrition should go hand in hand with any body building program. A well balanced diet and good weight training program will result in the body you’ve always dreamed of.
The first aspect of a nutrition program for body builders is the frequency of meals. Eating more frequent, smaller meals will allow your body to burn more fat throughout the day by increasing your metabolism. This change from eating three large meals a day to five or six smaller ones will have an immediate affect on your body. You should aim to eat at around three hour intervals. You will also find that your energy will remain more constant throughout the day by incorporating this strategy into your nutrition program.
Secondly, it is absolutely critical that each meal you consume throughout the day is balanced. This means that 40% of your meal should come from carbohydrates, 40% should come from protein, and the remaining 20% should come from fats. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates during each meal your energy levels will spike and then plummet within the hour. While some protein is necessary for muscle growth, it can have the opposite effect if too much is consumed. To create a balanced meal all you have to do is match the servings of carbohydrates and proteins, then cut that in half for your fat intake.
Cycling diet periods is also characteristic of nutrition programs for body builders. This means that depending on what you are trying to achieve with your body you will consume a higher calorie diet for a couple weeks followed by a couple days of a low calorie diet. For example, if your goal is body sculpting you should spend two weeks on a low calorie diet then two weeks on a high calorie diet. For women, this would mean the first two weeks they would have a 1200 calorie diet and the following two weeks they would consume a 1500 calorie diet. For men, the first two weeks they would consume a 2000 calorie diet, the following two weeks they would consume a 2500 calorie diet.
Carbohydrates are essential in a nutrition program for body builders because it gives them sustained energy throughout the day and also allow protein to be absorbed into muscle tissue to promote recovery and growth. Diets that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat have the reverse effect. This diet will essentially turn your body into a fat storing machine, completely reversing everything you have worked towards. A balanced proportion of carbohydrates should be divided between complex and simple carbohydrates. The complex carb is responsible for giving the body builder sustained energy and is found in foods like oatmeal, potatoes, and pasta. Simple carbs are responsible for giving the body an instant burst of energy and is found in foods like broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.
Eating the proper amount of protein during each meal is responsible for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It also aids in increasing your metabolism. Too much protein will result in a build up of fat storage for body builders. A good rule of thumb for body builders to follow is to consume 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass. Good sources of protein include eggs, turkey, chicken breast, and tuna.
Finally, a small amount of healthy fats in each meal will create a well rounded nutrition plan. By attempting to remove all fat from your diet, you will also be decreasing your metabolism and actually cause your body to store more fat. Good sources of fat come from peanut butter, olive oil, and fish oil.
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