Eating right is an important element of bodybuilding success, especially if you’re a beginning athlete. Sound nutrition will help you maintain a steady level of energy and ensure you can complete each and every workout session; the only way you’ll be able to build muscle and strength in the long-term is by eating enough calories throughout the day and getting enough rest. Eating the wrong foods at the wrong time can set you up for disaster, and severely limit your performance and muscle gains.
According to Catherine Ratzin Jackson, author of the book “Nutrition for the Recreational Athlete”, the eating habits of bodybuilders aren’t always based on sound nutritional advice. She explains that many bodybuilders base their diet strategies on tips they’ve read in bodybuilding magazines or from -experts’ at nutrition stores. Unfortunately, much of this advice is usually one-sided and does not provide the complete picture of the essentials of calorie intake, protein requirements and specific types of food to eat for weight loss. If you’re just getting started with bodybuilding, here are some essential rules of nutrition used by professional bodybuilders:
1. Avoid rapid weight loss. Rapid weight loss can result in the loss of lean body tissue and make it very difficult to increase muscle size and strength. Extreme weight loss often results from starvation or low-calorie diets, and may result in electrolyte imbalances, water and important lean body mass. High protein, low-fat diets can be harmful to your health and may prevent you from achieving your ideal body weight.
2. Use calculations to determine your protein requirements. Protein is essential for building strength, but you won’t be able to achieve any results with your bodybuilding routine if you’re eating too much or too little protein; the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8g/ kg per day for sedentary individuals, and 1.0-1.5 g/kg for athletes. You will need to start reading the nutrition labels of different foods to make sure you are getting enough protein in the diet.
3. Quality counts. Eating quality food – wholesome, unprocessed food – as often as possible is an important part of your bodybuilding program. Eating nutrient-rich foods from plant and animal sources will help you achieve your goals faster; avoid counting solely on meal replacements and supplements that leave you feeling hungry and are not metabolized as efficiently as real food.
4. Select your supplements wisely. Using supplements is a widespread practice among bodybuilders and athletes; taking supplements that give you energy, encourage muscle gains or provide you with essential vitamins and minerals can help in some cases, but they can also have adverse side effects. Use supplements with caution, and avoid using them as a replacement for a sound nutrition program or consistent exercise regimen. Large doses of protein powders and other performance-boosting supplements can have adverse side effects.
5. Pay attention to the foods you eat before and after your workout session. These are your primetime muscle building periods, so it’s essential to keep track of what and when you’re eating. Maintain a food log if necessary so you can become more conscientious about your food choices and get the timing right.