When people think of a bodybuilding diet they mainly assume a high protein diet tailored for people that lift weights and the solely purpose of such diet is to gain more muscle.
In part that is true that is the demographic that searches for such a diet, yet a bodybuilding diet is more than that. There are certain characteristics that makes this diet very beneficial to anyone that is looking to lose weight, gain muscle improve cardiovascular fitness, joint fitness and overall health.
what is different and unique about a bodybuilding diet
This type of diet focuses a lot on simplicity, there is not a great variety of food choices, you mainly want to know exactly how much protein carbs and fats you are getting and in the quest for simplicity the choice becomes the most basic high quality foods. No complex cooking not many sauces and not many packaged foods are favored. The more ingredients in a food the more complicated it becomes and thus harder to calculate your daily needs. Also many packaged foods are high in sodium and gluten that cause water retention and bloating. A true bodybuilding diet is one that allows for a true visual evaluation of the body. You want to keep body fat fairly low so you can evaluate how hour muscles are looking against the skin. Also your water should be balanced because excess water retention can cause one to appear more overweight than he actually is and thus cover a lot of the definition.
One thing that makes a bodybuilding diet different is that it is very repetitive, you tend to eat the same foods over and over providing little variety. on a typical day you may eat 4 meals of chicken and rice or chicken and sweet potatoes and thats it. Even though this may sound boring it provides great simplicity and takes out a lot of the guesswork.
By providing the same foods over and over you tend to become your own dietician. You are training your eye to know how much of each food group you need to gain muscle, lose fat, feel more energetic etc.
Another benefit of a bodybuilding diet is insulin sensitivity. Most Diets focus on glycerin index, which is the amount of sugar raised in the blood after an isolated meal gets to the stomach. With pure glucose being 100 from a scale of 0-100 a banana for example would have an index of 51. However we tend to eat foods in combinations and different amounts. A more accurate measure of the affect of amount of blood sugar raise would be the glycemic load which takes into account the quantity and glycemic index of each food to give its overall affect on blood sugar. Furthermore there is plenty of research supporting that glycemic index and glycemic load should not be the measure that we should focus on for fat gain, but rather insulin index. In his Book The Obesity Code, Dr. Jason Fung explains that the main culprit of obesity is blood insulin levels. This is why diabetics tend to gain weight over time due to the prolonged administration of insulin.
A bodybuilding diet is one that focuses on foods that do not have extreme affect on insulin secretion in the blood. Thus provide for a steady stream of nutrients in the muscle without rushing into fat storage an a primary action.
Food Choices and meals
Lets describe some staple foods of a typical bodybuilding diet
chicken with rice
fish with avocado
lean beef with sweet potatoes
chicken and sweet potatoes
turkey and asparagus
fish and spinach
fish and broccoli
eggs and oatmeal
snack raw nuts and berries
as you can see these are calorie dense nutrient dense foods that will not raise insulin levels much and they are very efficient in converting to muscle or assisting the body with its daily metabolic needs while burning fat
the fact that each meal is either fat based or carb based and not high in all three macronutrients plays a key roll in maintaining lean muscle mass and not converting our calories into fat
When one Macronutrient is deficient, either carbohydrate, protein or fat the body makes up for its energy deficit by incorporating alternative source of energy.
The typical body energy formation comes from 60% carbohydrates 30% fat and about 20% protein. the body will use these nutrients daily to produce energy. however when you decrease say the amount of fat from the diet the body will tap into excess body fat to compensate for the energy requirement. the same thing will happen when you decrease carbohydrates and what about protein? assuming that the body has enough calories but not enough protein it will tap into the protein aka muscle to make up for that 20% energy requirement.
What is interesting however is, when we put our body into a voluntary starvation state, where we do not eat for a significant amount of hours we increase the secretion of human growth hormone in the body which helps maintain muscle and prevents it from braking down, while at the same time we tap into our fat stores for energy. This has drawn a lot of research attention and such voluntary fasting has gotten the name intermittent fasting. The benefits of such practice go beyond bodybuilding and weight loss.
Anytime Fitness Approach
There are two senarios in a bodybuilding diet, you either gaining weight and building muscle of losing fat and maintaining muscle. If approached properly you can achieve a low body fat percentage all year long while progressively gaining muscle
Fat loss aka getting lean. I recommend anyone that has a body fat percentage above 8% for men and 15% for women to start with this senario.
In this example you would want to eat no more than 3- 4 meals. The size of the meals should be about two of your fists combined together. 1/3 of that amount should be a protein source and 2/3 should be a fat source or a carbohydrate source. This approach is also great to be coupled with intermittent fasting. You should continue this type of dieting until the body gets to the desired body fat percentage. when that happens you can move on to senario number 2
In this senario you focus on putting on some quality size which is more muscle less fat. To do so you would increase your intake to 4-6 meals. some people with really high metabolisms would want to add more meals, but should do so progressively slow. The size of the meals should be a little bigger than 2 fists combined together and the ratio should be 1/4 protein 3/4 carbs or fat.
When should you go back to scenario number one? For males when body fat percentage reaches about 15% and for women when body fat percentage reaches about 22%.
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