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Bodybuilding: The Importance Of Nutrition

Peruse the pages of any bodybuilding magazine and its likely that you'll see flashy advertisements promising to give you the ultimate bodybuilding physique... if you will only spend x amount of dollars on their products. To make it even more appealing, youíll see some of the most popular bodybuilding personalities claiming that they built their physique, at least in part, by using a certain product.

The rational part of you knows this is probably not the case, but the other part of you, the part that is eager, perhaps even desperate, to see those muscle gains might be tempted to open your wallet. Welcome to the world of nutrition and bodybuilding.

Nutrition: An Important Aspect Of Bodybuilding

In order to have that awesome bodybuilding physique, you need to feed your body the proper fuel. As a bodybuilder, your goal is to be in the best physical form possible, one that connotes health, fitness, and strength. In order to reach that level, though, youíll need to focus on your food consumption and make sound nutritional choices that will not only enhance your physique but also improve your health.

All Protein Isnít Equal - Feed Your Body High Quality Protein

Increase the amount of good quality protein that your body craves. With victories by vegan fitness competitors covering a variety of sports, itís making more people question the high protein intake levels that have been promoted for years.

Studies have shown that vegetable protein is more easily assimilated by the body than animal protein. There have also been numerous studies that state that we donít need to consume excessive amounts of protein to build muscle. What are some examples of high quality, low fat protein? Turkey and chicken breast, low fat yogurt, cottage cheese, greens, and legumes.

Fats: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Letís get the record straight. Not all fat is evil. In fact, our bodies need fat to function. You see, fat serves as an energy source, and it also plays an important role regarding the health of our cells. It doesnít stop there. Fat plays an active role in the construction of our cells. Other fats, like omega 3 fatty acids perform a variety of functions such as regulating our heart rate, affecting blood vessel constriction, and preventing blood clotting.

If you're like most people, you get it, of course. You realize that fats are an important part of your bodybuilding routine; however, you may be unsure as to the type of fats you should be consuming. True, our bodies need fats, but they arenít all the same. Just as there are some fats that are good for us, there are some fats that should be avoided at all cost.

The Good Fats - Unsaturated Fats (Monounsaturated Fats And Polyunsaturated Fats)

The fats you want to add to your nutrition routine are unsaturated fats. These are also known as the good fats. These are the fats that our bodies crave. They work with our bodies by lowering the LDL (low density lipids) cholesterol levels in the blood.

A Few Types Of Healthy Fats
  • Olive Oil (olives and olive oil are a prominent feature of the the mediterranean diet)
  • Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Cold water fish (Herring, Mackerel, and Salmon)
Unsaturated fats are good for us, and they are a vital aspect of good health. But itís important to remember that consuming too much of anything can be unhealthy. So, as with all things, use moderation.

The Bad Fats- Saturated Fats

These types of fats stay solid and waxy at room temperature. Itís important to limit this type of fat in your diet. Why? Overconsumption has been linked to high cholesterol. In comparison with the good fats, saturated fats are more easily stored as fat in the body. You can usually find these types of fats in animal products.

The Ugly - Trans Fat

Trans fats are found in many baked goods like cookies, cakes, or crackers. When we consume products containing trans fat, it lowers our good HDL while raising the bad LDL. This is something our bodies donít need. Many nutrition experts recommend that we eliminate all trans fat from our diet.

Carbohydrates: Reduction

Carbohydrates require energy to burn them off. If youíre serious about bodybuilding, itís best to go low carb right before bedtime. I hold off consuming them at least two hours before bedtime. Why limit carbohydrates before bedtime? The body doesnít have time to burn off these calories so they are stored as fat. As a bodybuilder, you are trying to reduce body fat, add definition, and add muscle. Carbohydrates can be found in your breads, cereals, pastas, and many highly processed foods. They can also be found in many whole food sources that have a low glycemic value and, thus, are much better for you than processed foods.

Reduce The Amount Of Processed Foods You Consume

Our bodies crave nutrients. When we workout and are involved in strenuous exercises, our demands increase. Consuming a high amount of processed foods works against us. They are nutritionally inferior to unprocessed whole foods. Thatís something we donít need. You donít want to keep your six pack abs hidden behind layers of flab. You want to flaunt them. You worked hard for your physique, so donít toss all your hard work down the drain.

Donít reach for processed foods to help you through the day. Instead, reach for a whole food snack. They are nutritionally superior. Think before you put food into your mouth. Also, the cravings you receive throughout the day will decrease because you are feeding your body unprocessed foods that are of higher value, nutritionally speaking.

Eat Smaller Meals And Eat More Often

What other ways can you maintain your physique without adding additional fat? You can eat smaller meals and eat them more often. If you flip open any of the major bodybuilding magazines like Muscle & Fitness, Fitness RX, Ms Fitness, or Flex, youíll see that many bodybuilders and nutritionists are eating smaller meals. Why is that? The answer is actually very simple. Our bodies have to process the foods that we eat into energy. If we consume too much food, the body cannot handle the overload...and what it cannot process is stored as fat.

Eating more frequently and in smaller amounts gives the body time to utilize all the nutrients that are being put into it. When we consume meals throughout the day, it provides a steady source of nutrients to the muscles we are working so hard to build in our workout routines.

So, to add muscle, keep your digestive system on an even keel, and keep the fat down, eat smaller meals. And remember, as with water-soluble vitamins, your body can only absorb but so much protein at a time.

Keep A Food Log

Many bodybuilders keep a journal, or log, of their workouts. What about one for your food consumption? I found that maintaining a food log allowed me to keep track of what I was eating and draw correlations between my food consumption and bodybuilding gains.

How Do You You Build The Perfect Physique?

As much as you work on your physique within the gym, you also need to devote some of that energy and pay attention to the food choices you make. Ultimately, the foods you decide to consume can work for you ,or against you. To make your workouts count for more, increase the amount of whole foods that you consume daily.

There is no magic pill or supplement that will take the place of making sound nutritional choices. Just as it takes dedication to build that perfect physique, it also takes dedication to build up a healthy body. Making proper nutritional choices plays a vital role in enhancing your physique and furthering your bodybuilding goals.

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