Body building food and protein foods
For many body builders, the body building food part is the missing link. We work out hard in the gym, get our rest/recovery time, yet make one of a couple of critical mistakes.
First, let’s define body builder.
How about simply anyone who does resistance training as part of a workout and eating regiment to improve their health and appearance (and healthy is attractive)? It’s encompasses everyone from someone who hits the gym a couple of times a week to the seriously competitive body builders.
And we must mention that protein foods is far easier if you learn the basics of healthy cooking! Simple Anabolic/body building food, high in vitamins, generally low in fats, are not hard to prepare.
And now, 2 critical mistakes body builders make regarding food / protein foods:
We eat shit! Yes, a lot of us eat like the general population, which tends to be horrible. Although Mexico has recently surpassed the USA (where we are located) as the fattest country, the USA and most of the Western world is pretty horrible.
We are in a hurry and we eat fast food. No one is going to claim that McDonalds, Wendys, KFC, or Burger King are healthy. And the quick pizza slices you caught are also not great body building food diet or healthy food! In general, fast food is unhealthy.
It is much easier to eat healthier today than a mere few years ago.
Even the fast food outlets mentioned have some far healthier choices than they used too. We just do not tend to eat them!
We eat too healthy protein foods (or try to). Yes, some people eat (or try to) eat very healthy protein foods.
Now there’s nothing wrong with an occasional slice of pizza or fast food hamburger (if that’s what you like). Yes, maybe you are like a friend of ours getting ready for her first body building competition (bikini division or whatever they call it) and need to watch everything you eat for the next 4 months, but that does not describe most of us by a long shot!
So you might ask, “What is the problem with eating very healthy – is it possible?” There are a couple of problems for sure.
First of all, too many body builders food diets they were simply cannot sustain and break down and start eating lots of crap. Hey, I can stay on any diet for a week or so, but put me on something bland and boring and I’m not going to last. Most of us cannot stay on a superstrict and uber healthy body building diet, so our diet fails!
The second reason is that body building food and drink are supposed to be fun! Deriving yourself of one of life’s great pleasures is moronic in our opinion. Yes, you should be able to eat whatever you want occasionally, but more importantly, you can eat healthily most of the time and eat fun tasty food (after midnight nachos are not healthy in general, but every once in a while is OK.
There are plenty of resources online giving you specific calorie, carb, protein, fat counts, and out attempt is not to duplicate what you can already easily find online, but to try and add some reasonableness, for the body builder who just happens to have a life (and life should include tasty food).
Body building Types and protein foods
We are all different and have different protein food needs. Some of this has to do with the exercise we get or do not get. For example, a world competitive cyclist has much different nutritional needs than an Olympic gymnast than a coach potato. And a bodybuilder is going to have different protein foods needs as well.Body building Types
A serious competitive bodybuilder will also have far more stringent and different body building food and protein foods requirements than an average Joe bodybuilder like me. I like being big and ripped, but I will probably never compete nor stress out over it!
One (but just one) determinant of the nutritional needs of a bodybuilder depends on their body type: are they a natural skinny and lean person or natural large and bulky or what?
In the 1940s the concept of somatotypes was developed by an American psychologist named William Herbert Sheldon. We will not go into enormous detail on all his work of course, but we need to understand the three basic somatotypes to better understand nutritional requirements.
First we have the Ectomorph, or naturally thin person. Muscles tend to be long and thin, and they are often called “hardgainers.” Hardgainers do not have a disposition to natural gain fat or muscle.
An ectomorph/hardgainer can build an impressive physique, but it requires a lot of effort. In particular they need to eat an incredible amount of food. Problem is, they usually do not like to eat a lot! Counting calories for a while may be necessary as they may think they are eating a lot when in reality it just ain’t that much!
A mesomorph naturally has wide shoulders and a thin waist, and easily builds muscle but does not easily gain fat. Most mesomorphs are natural athletes and are muscular. They certainly build muscle easily. Life is relatively easy for a mesomorph bodybuilder!
An endomorph typically has a large bone structure and easily stores fat. They are naturally round and soft. They easily gain fat, but also easily gain muscle. For an endomorph, eating healthily and not too much is the issue, as fat is always a problem. Diet and nutrition are often more important than the workouts.
Of course someone can have a combination of body types as well. For example, someone can be an ecto-mesomorph, having characteristics of both body types.
Now any body type can build a great body, but the nutritional (and workout) concerns are different for each.
It’s pretty easy to summarize. If an endomorph, you need to eat far more than you imagine. If you are an endomorph, eating healthier is more critical than your workouts, and if you are a mesomorph, well, we are jealous! You will still need to pay attention to your workouts and nutrition however!
The Bodybuilding Diet – What’s Most Important?
There are so many different ideas for bodybuilding diets, and most of them work extremely well. Occasionally there will be some crackpot fad (especially with supplements!) that will fade away after coming on strong, but a great many diets work very well with bodybuilding assuming that protein intake is kept relatively high.
Food matters for bodybuilding obviously. Nutrition, training, and rest are the holy trinity. Some knowledge of anabolic cooking principles can help a lot as well.
Here are a few diets I have experimented with over the years that I have had great bodybuilding gains on. We’ll come back to what is most important below!
Ketogenic diets – These are ultra low carb diets, such as the Atkins Diet, Body Opus (by the late, great, Dan Duchaine), and more. Body Opus was very specific for bodybuilders and not suggested unless you were 15% body fat or less for men or 20% body fat or less for women, and so rigorous it had me throwing up at workouts and sometimes setting the alarm clock multiple times per night to eat! Atkins in contrast is designed for anyone.
Low Fat Diets – Low Fat diets are almost the opposite of Ketogenic diets. You tend to eat lots of carbs, and if you keep your fat intake low, you can lose weight somewhat easily. Of course plenty of lean protein is prescribed for bodybuilders.
Slow Carb Diets – an example of this one is the 4 Hour Diet by Tim Ferris. Eat what you want in general, but avoid high glycemic carbs. No bread, pasta, sugar, fruit, potatoes, etc. except for once a week when you can go wild for the day.
Now all of these diets worked for me. My goal, as always for me, is lose fat and gain muscle. Yup, typical muscle me, that’s me!
So, these diets all worked, but which worked best?
Body Opus was the most effective, period. But it was so intense (setting the alarm some nights to wake up multiple times to eat, and occasional prescribed workout so intense I vomited?) that I simply could stick to it long term. I must admit it is not designed to be a long term diet however. Low fat was boring and dull, and hard to stay on as well. Atkins was OK but I’d occasionally fall way off the wagon. The 4 hour diet has been the best so far of those listed above as it is the easiest to stay on.
Alright,we are getting close to the answer of what is most important about a body building diet?
It has to be a body building diet you can stay on! Too many body building food diets are so extreme that most people simply cannot stick to them. If you cannot stay on a diet, it cannot work!