Bodybuilding Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Bodybuilders

bodybuilding-nutrition-and-sports-supplements-for-bodybuildersBodybuilding is a popular sporting activity that involves athletes, known as bodybuilders using weight training, resistance exercises and nutrition to control, develop and sculpt their physical appearance with a specific focus on symmetry, muscularity and conditioning.

As anyone who’s ever been involved in the sport knows, the bodybuilding lifestyle can be very demanding, with monumental training schedules to endure and a huge number of diet myths to unravel.

Under such circumstances it can be very challenging for both novice and experienced bodybuilders alike to identify what to eat and still maintain a healthy and varied diet; while at the same time working towards their bodybuilding goals and meeting all the nutrient requirements to achieve their desired body composition.

if you are a competitive bodybuilder, you should seek to maintain a high degree of muscle mass and tone with excellent symmetrical shape, visible musculature and vascular definition

Bodybuilding nutrition

Before we start to consider nutrition and supplementation you should note that drug testing takes place within the sport of bodybuilding in an attempt to stamp-out the use and abuse of prohibited performance-enhancing substances.

Whilst the use of such performance-enhancers can have a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing and are not recommended, they are also considered unnecessary as natural bodybuilding can be achieved successfully without any banned pharmaceutical aids being used.

In general, if you are a competitive bodybuilder, you should seek to maintain a high degree of muscle mass and tone with excellent symmetrical shape, visible musculature and vascular definition.

However, you should note that there are various bodybuilding styles and competitive events where emphasis is placed on different characteristics and specific aspects of fitness and physique, and therefore these place different demands on the body and dietary intake.

Bulking and cutting

In order to achieve your bodybuilding goals, you will have to split your competitive year into two phases – bulking and cutting.

Competitive bodybuilders will spend between eight and ten months bulking, which focuses on high-intensity resistance training to build good muscle mass and excellent symmetry.

The cutting phase usually follows two to four months before competition and involves maximising body fat losses while minimising muscle loss to enhance overall muscle definition.

During this cutting phase aerobic activity is combined with continued weight training to assist in fat loss.

During the bulking phase bodybuilders should ideally seek to consume an excess of energy in order to gain muscle mass.

During bulking you will therefore have a higher protein requirement due to your need to increase muscle mass and carbohydrate

A low-to-moderate fat intake is also required to maintain hormones such as testosterone, which are vital in muscle building, and for an adequate intake of essential fat soluble vitamins.

When it comes to cutting, the amount of food you eat should be decreased, whilst your energy use increased with extra aerobic exercise.

At the same time, however, carbohydrate and protein must be sufficient to prevent the loss of overall muscle mass.

You should be aware that it is not desirable to lose weight too rapidly, as muscle mass is also more likely to suffer, which will have a detrimental effect on your performance, form and physique.

Hydration for bodybuilders

Athlete hydration and specific fluid requirements have also to be taken into consideration when undertaking high intensity resistance and aerobic training.

It is especially important for bodybuilders to ensure that hydration and fluid levels are optimal as a higher protein diet may necessitate an increased fluid intake to flush the kidneys.

Muscle strength and control are key components in meeting the great demands of training regimens and therefore hydration is important to optimise mental focus and concentration when lifting heavy weights.

Good hydration can be achieved using water and specially formulated sports drinks during and after lifting such weights in training.

Dehydration as a cutting technique

If you are involved in competitive bodybuilding dehydration practices are common in the days leading up to an event in order to further reveal muscle size and definition.

Such dehydration techniques include the use of saunas, decreased fluid and sodium intake – and even the use of diuretics.

The use of diuretics however, can pose serious health risks, so you are advised not to go down that particular road.

Pre-competition nutrition

Prior to a bodybuilding competition or event, in order to “cut” the muscle, your diet for meals – four to seven each day – should ideally include a low fat intake and lower energy diet, therefore protein becomes more important to preserve muscle mass.

Low fat animal products, including the following, are ideal:

  • Lean beef with the excess fat removed.
  • Skinless chicken breast fillets.
  • Skimmed milk, natural yoghurt and fresh cheese.
  • Egg whites.

Nutrition during competition

Dehydration and restricted food intakes prior to bodybuilding competitions can have a detrimental effect on your overall physical performance, resulting in muscle fatigue, weakness and lack of energy, so it is important to have snacks and fluids handy during competition in order to maintain fuel levels.

This is especially important if you are competing in categories requiring fitness routines.

Handy snacks could include sports drinks, energy bars, jam on bread or fresh or dried fruit, depending on what suits an individual need.

Post-training and recovery nutrition

After an intense training session it is essential that you recover body carbohydrate and fluid stores before the next session.

The recovery process is vitally important and there are no two ways about it; bodybuilders need to recover properly after training, especially if they want to keep their body in the best possible shape.

There are three golden rules to successful bodybuilder rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:

  • Refuel

    Refuel muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores).

  • Repair

    Repair muscle tissue (for maintenance and development).

  • Rehydrate

    Rehydrate to replace fluids and salts lost through sweat.

Bodily carbohydrate stores (glycogen) must be quickly restored to allow quality training to be maintained – the optimum time to restore muscle glycogen stores is during the first hour after training and this is when you need to consume carbohydrates.

If you do not replenish glycogen stores adequately however, recovery may well be affected leading to unwanted fatigue and poor training performances may then follow.

High GI foods are recommended immediately after training including white bread, potatoes or energy supplements such as sports drinks.

Following on, within two or three hours of training, there should be a regular intake of carbohydrate and further fluid.

A protein and carbohydrate supplement is effective in increasing muscle building if it is taken within the first 30 minutes after resistance training.

It is true to say that restricted eating can mean a limited variety of foods, especially during the cutting phase, so it is advisable to include as much variety as possible… consider eating as many different fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products and lean meat as possible during training and competition.

Another tip: try not to binge after bodybuilding competitions or particularly hard training sessions as this can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Want to get involved in bodybuilding?

If you’re not currently involved in bodybuilding and are keen to learn more about taking part then read on. Here we’ve brought together a number of useful links to bodybuilding organisations that may be able to help you.

  • The United Kingdom Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation

    The United Kingdom Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation (UKBFF) is affiliated to the European Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (EBFF) and the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB), which is the largest Bodybuilding and Fitness federation in the world. The UKBFF sanctions qualifying events throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (see Events). At these qualifying events, any UKBFF Member can compete and hopefully qualify for the UK British Finals which is held in October each year.

  • National Amateur Body-Builders Association

    NABBA is the first and the original competitve bodybuilding association. Formed in 1950, NABBA’s first Mr Universe contest was won by Steve Reeves, who went on to make over 30 Hercules movies. Formed in London in 1984, NABBA International became host to the European & World Championships. There are nine elected area reps covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they are members of the NABBA council. Each area holds a qualifying event, which leads to the Annual Mr & Miss Britain Finals. This in turn becomes a qualifier for the European and Universe Championships. The Universe contest gets stronger every year.

  • British Natural Bodybuilding Federation

    The British Natural Bodybuilding Federation was established 2000 with the mission of providing the best possible environment for Natural Bodybuilders to compete. Through the use of the best venues, top quality lighting and most importantly the most stringent drug testing policy in the sport. Adhering to these principles quickly established us at the forefront of Natural Bodybuilding in the UK, and year on year the Federation has expanded and gone from strength to strength. The BNBF is a non-profiting making organisation. All the revenue gathered from ticket sales and sponsorship is used to pay for the drug testing, and we also fund a team comprised of that season’s champions, so that they can compete internationally at the World Championships of our global affiliated Federation, the DFAC (Drug Free Athletes Coalition.)

  • Bodybuilding on Wikipedia

    Bodybuilding is the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one’s musculature. An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive amateur and professional bodybuilding, bodybuilders appear in lineups doing specified poses, and later perform individual posing routines, for a panel of judges who rank competitors…

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