When you decide you want to undertake a body building program, the foods you eat can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your program.
Many people don’t pay enough attention to the types of food they eat. But food is very important in a bodybuilding program.
Food supplies us with calories. Calories are tiny bits of energy that your body uses to perform work. Counting calories isn’t as important as knowing what calories will be the best ones to consume for the maximum effect on your workout.
To have enough energy to perform your workout, you’ll need a lot of different nutrients. One of the most important would be carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of glucose. Glucose is a simple carb that is stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen.
Glycogen is the principal form of energy that is stored in muscles. When your muscles are filled with glycogen, they both look and feel full.
Carbohydrates should be the bulk of your daily caloric intake when you are starting a body-building program.
Focus on unprocessed complex carbs like sweet potatoes, potatoes, whole grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice.
These natural complex carbs are made of long “chains” of sugar and are digested very slowly.
Slow burning carbs promote consistent blood sugar levels, which help to offset fatigue while promoting the release of insulin, which is the body’s principal anabolic hormone.
For men, a number of carbs that should be taken in by multiplying their body weight by three. That number will be a number of grams that should be consumed daily.
Women multiply their body weight by two to get their carb gram intake.
For example, a 200-pound man should consume 600 grams of carbs per day and a 125-pound woman would eat 250 carb grams daily.
Glucose also provides energy for your brain and making blood in your body.
Glucose can be made from protein, but that requires the breakdown of body protein from muscle. If you’re not eating enough carbohydrates, your body will start breaking down muscle tissue for glucose.
Along with carbs, you must consume enough fiber in your diet. Eating fiber makes muscle tissue more responsive to anabolism by improving sugar and amino acid uptake and aiding in muscle glycogen formation and growth.
Beans and oatmeal are two excellent sources of fiber.
Divide your carb meals into six servings throughout the day. This divide and conquer approach stimulates a steady release of insulin to create an anabolic, or muscle building, state.
If you eat too many carbs in one sitting, the net effect is that fat-storing enzymes kick into high hear and you lose than lean and hard look.
Eat some simple carbs after your workout and eat more of them. Honey, sugar and refined foods such as white bread and white rice – typical simple carbs – are digested quickly and easily. The resulting insulin spike is a double-edged sword, however.
After training, it can prevent muscle catabolism while promoting anabolism. If you have not been working out, the intake of simple carbs can stimulate fat storage.
A high carb intake at your post training meal will have less chance of being stored as fat, as carbs must replenish depleted glycogen levels before they gain the ability to stimulate fat storage. Eat about 25% of your daily carbs at this meal.
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day, and besides your post-workout meal, it is also the best time to load up on carbs.
Blood sugar and muscle glycogen levels are low from your overnight fast. Your body must replenish these levels before stimulating the fat storing machinery in the body.
As your day wears on, your carb intake should decrease. Your energy requirements will also decrease at this time, so your body won’t need as much.
If you eat carbs late in the day, your body will store them as fat and increase weight gain instead of muscle mass.
If you feel that you need to lose fat along with building your muscles, you will want to rotate your carb intake. Bodybuilders who rotate their carb intake tend to lose more fat than bodybuilders who maintain a steady flow of carbs while dieting.
For example, instead of eating 600 g. of carbs every day (the typical daily total for a 200-pound bodybuilder), try varying the volume of intake.
Eat 50% fewer carbs (300 g.) for two days, then the standard 600 g. for the next two days, then 50% more (900 g.) for the next two days.
The total carb intake is the same, but this schedule works because it lowers muscle glycogen in the first stage (promoting fat loss), and then increases insulin levels (ensuring no loss of muscle) on the final two days. Carb rotation gives you the best of both worlds: decreased fat with no loss of muscle.
Another important nutrient every bodybuilder needs is plenty of protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glucose molecules make up carbohydrates just like amino acids with proteins.
Protein is involved in growing, repairing, and replacing tissues. That is made possible because proteins are the basis for body structures.
For body builders, nitrogen balance is an important concept to keep in mind when talking about proteins.
Nitrogen balance is the difference between the amount of nitrogen taken in and the amount excreted or lost.
If you lose more nitrogen than you consume, your body will break down muscle tissue to get it. On the other hand, if you consume more than you lose, you will be in an anabolic, or muscle building, state.
Protein intake exceeds output, and protein is retained in tissue as new muscle is added. Obviously, this is something that you want.
Watch out, if your protein output exceeds intake you would have a negative nitrogen balance. This is not good because the opposite is now happening.
Your body is degrading muscle and other body proteins. You usually see this in people who are starving, burned, injured or have a fever. This puts your body in what is called a catabolic state.
An anabolic state is when your body has a positive nitrogen balance. The term catabolic refers to the state of the body in which body compounds are broken down for energy purposes.
In bodybuilding contexts, catabolic means muscle loss.
Ultimately, your body won’t grow when it is in a catabolic state.
The general rule is to consume daily the same amount of grams in protein as your body weight. A 200-pound bodybuilder, therefore, would need to eat 200 grams of protein every day to put the body in an anabolic state.
When calculating the amount of protein you are eating, concentrate on the complete sources of protein like meat, fish, and eggs. While there are proteins in other foods, you need to focus on the complete sources rather than those that are incomplete.
If you are dieting while body building, your protein intake should increase to 1 ½ times your bodyweight.
Many diets have you cutting back on fat and carbohydrate intake. This forces the body to burn more protein for fuel, which can put your muscle tissue at risk. To compensate, you’ll need to eat more protein to counteract this effect.
Here’s a quick guide to the protein content of some common foods:
5 oz. steak, cooked
5 oz. roasted chicken
5 oz. tuna
1 c. milk
2 T. peanut butter
2 slices of cheese
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 cup cooked broccoli
1 cup beans (legumes)
Protein (in grams)
Some people don’t feel that loading up on protein is a good idea for anyone, but if you want to get ripped with your body building program, you’ll need the amino acids in protein to work in your body.
Be aware of the amount of protein you are eating and make them work for you instead of against you.
Yes, even when you are building the perfect body, you’ll still need some fats in your diet. Fats are the main source of energy in the body.
Fat combines with glucose for energy in order to spare the breakdown of protein. That way, protein can do what it is supposed to do – build muscle.
The key to fat intake is to stay away from bad fats and only eat the good fat. Saturated fat is bad.
These are the fats that contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol. Because of the chemical composition of saturated fat, your body cannot break it down very well.
Saturated fats are commonly found in animal products such as meat, seafood, whole milk dairy products like milk and cheese, as well as egg yolks.
Saturated fats elevate blood cholesterol by increasing both the good HDL and the bad LDL. Elevated levels of LDL can clog arteries and cause heart disease. They are also more readily stored as body fat, so they should be limited.
Trans fats should also be avoided. This type of fat is often used in commercially processed food because they are preserved longer.
Trans fats cause an over activity in the immune system and are linked to stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. You should truly strive to eliminate all trans fats from your diet.
Unsaturated fats are easier for your body to break down. Some of them can act as antioxidants that can actually help in losing stored fatty tissue in the body.
These fats are found naturally in foods like nuts and avocados. These fats have a great effect on the cardio system as they work to lower the bad LDL cholesterol in the body.
The easiest way to tell the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats is to look at them. At room temperature, saturated fats are hard and solid. Unsaturated fats are in liquid form as in oils.
Basically, you should stay away from fats like animal lard and use oils such as olive oil or canola oil.
Pay close attention to the fat content of any processed foods you are eating and keep it to a minimum or else your body will store that fat as well.
Probably the best type of fat to have in your diet would be Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
These fats are most often found in fish and can have some significant health advantages. They can reduce inflammation, help prevent cancer growth, and improve brain function.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids can actually help combat conditions such as depression, fatigue, joint pain, and even Type 2 diabetes.
Because they reduce inflammation in the body, they are good for the body builder because they help promote muscle recovery, which can be important in the body building process.
Fats are actually an important part of any diet. They play an important role in protecting the body’s vital organs. Fats keep the body insulated; maintain healthy hair and skin as well as providing a sense of fullness after meals.
Obtaining sufficient fat in its healthy form is one of the keys to good health and well-being and a great body!
However, you must be careful not to overdo on the fats.