Muscle Building Tips

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Bodybuilding Diets: Which is Best for You?

What gets the job done when it comes to bodybuilding diets?

Do you need to eliminate carbs altogether or go for a high-carb vegetarian diet? Do you need to breathe protein day in and day out or just add a shake or two and get on with your day? Can you eat a slice of cake on your birthday, or are you only considered a "real" bodybuilder if you keep it lean? What does it even mean to stay lean or eat clean?


There's a lot of confusion over what bodybuilders should eat, but the truth isn't so difficult once you see through the hype. Start by thinking about what a bodybuilder is really trying to accomplish. You want to do the following:

  • Increase muscle mass
  • Keep your muscles strong and healthy
  • Minimize fat deposits so that your muscle is easier to show off

You want to get big and strong while controlling your body fat percentage. You can break that down to see your basic nutritional needs as follows:

  • Building muscle mass and ensuring that your muscles have what it takes to recover from intense workouts and bounce back stronger than ever requires a high-protein diet.
  • Staying energized so that you can push through those intense workouts without giving up requires a diet with healthy fats and reasonable portions of whole-grain carbohydrates for energy.
  • Limiting fat storage requires you to control your calorie intake and consume a diet that doesn't include sugary foods with saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and other words that basically mean unhealthy fat.

That makes determining your basic nutritional needs rather simple, right? You need a diet that includes a lot of protein, reasonable portions of wholesome carbohydrates (read: not refined or sugary), and which includes healthy fats while shunning unhealthy fats.

Healthy fats are consumed naturally as you consume lean protein sources and whole-grain carbohydrates, so you don't have to work hard to get your fat. In fact, a handful of nuts can give you what you need along with a dose of energy and healthy vitamins and minerals.

Ignore the Fads

While you need protein, giving up carbohydrates to stay lean will leave you sluggish and malnourished. That rules out most low/no-carbohydrate diets. This especially rules out diets that encourage the consumption of bacon, red meat and other fatty proteins because the saturated fats will work against your desire to get lean.

While you need carbohydrates, you still need high-quality proteins. Such as good red meat, poultry and fish! Vegetarian sources are often overlooked. Don't ignore them! Plant source and brown rice protein are excellent, especially if you cannot digest the animal proteins easily.

If you are a vegetarian, and have such a diet, just realize that not all plants that contain protein contain complete proteins and you will need to consume a lot more of those foods to reach your daily protein intake goals.

Are You a Competitor?

If you are in training for an upcoming competition, you may adjust the above general guidelines to meet your body's intensified needs for nourishment. You may need to consume substantially more protein during your training period, and you may increase your overall calorie consumption to make up for extended time spent working out. Your emphasis on whole foods with limited fats should remain in place, but recognize that your body may need more of those foods to bulk up, get stronger and lean out so that your muscles pop.