Bodybuilding is one of the most-loved strength sports. It involves weight and strength training to build muscle and improve the overall physique. Bodybuilders primarily focus on building muscle via dietary changes and intense workouts.
Bodybuilding usually involves two phases – bulking and cutting. During bulking phase, bodybuilders consume a calorie-dense, high-protein and lift heavy weight to build muscle mass as much as possible. This phase also results in a slight increase in body fat percentage.
During the cutting phase, bodybuilders aim to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass by making required changes in the diet and exercise.
Diet plays a critical role during both phases, and a bodybuilding diet doesn’t mean adequate calories. There has to be a well-planned ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to get the desired results.
Bodybuilding nutrition should revolve around eating the right amount of nutrient-dense foods to fuel muscles with the nutrients required to grow big, repair and recover. Unhealthy and improper selection of food choices could hamper the goals largely. Here is the list of foods that one can include during any phase of bodybuilding:
- Whole Eggs: Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and the most preferred protein food for bodybuilding. They are packed with muscle-building amino acids, omega-3 fats, choline, vitamin B12 and many more.
- Chicken and Seafood: One of the best bodybuilding foods containing good-quality proteins, good fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals. One can use them in multiple dishes as per the liking and enjoy the health benefits.
- Protein Powders and Gainers: Protein powders and gainers are popular among bodybuilders and athletes. Bodybuilders prefer gainers to bulk up when they need high-calorie foods rich in carbs and proteins. At the same time, one can use protein powders during both bulking and cutting to meet everyday protein needs. Protein powders usually provide a good amount of protein and essential amino acids required to encourage muscle growth.
- Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is quite a popular part of the bodybuilding diet. It contains healthy fats and proteins but fewer carbs, making it ideal for bodybuilders during low carb diets. Peanut butter comes in a wide variety and with the flexibility to consume as per your liking.
- Dairy Products: Foods like milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, curd, buttermilk are perfect options that provide ample nutrients required during bodybuilding. Be it milkshakes, grilled paneer salad, greek yoghurt smoothies or cheese sandwiches, and dairy products are a healthy treat to our tastebuds.
- Carb-rich Cereals: Carbohydrates play a vital role during bodybuilding as they provide energy and fuel muscle glycogen stores for those intense workouts and lift weights. In addition, carbs also spare protein for muscle growth because our body starts to derive energy from proteins if the carb supply is insufficient. Therefore, the diet must include good and complex carb sources like whole wheat chapati, rice, quinoa, oats and millets.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Never underestimate the potential of vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are a must if you aim to build a solid and healthy body. They are packed with dietary fibre and other essential nutrients required to keep the gut strong for better digestion and absorption of calorie-dense diets and enhanced energy metabolism.
- Pulses and Legumes: These are perfect protein-rich foods, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Pulses and legumes contain dietary fibre, B-vitamins, calcium, iron and many other nutrients to catalyze the muscle-building process.
- Healthy Fats: Fats must never be overlooked during bodybuilding as we need them for energy and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. It is advisable to focus on good fat sources like coconut oil, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, egg yolk, mustard oil, groundnut oil and ghee.
Foods to Avoid in a Bodybuilding Food Chart
When you are aware of bodybuilding food items, next is to know about the foods one should avoid or consume only in moderation. These foods can interfere with muscle growth and harm the body overall.
- Processed Foods: We often tend to choose ready-to-eat snacks or meals, baked foods and processed meats because of the convenience with which they come. Processed foods have meagre nutritional value and are often high in calories. They are not healthy and loaded with artificial preservatives, salts, sugar, so my advice is to avoid them as much as possible.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is not a food item, but it is advisable to avoid it if you aim for bodybuilding, as alcohol might dehydrate you and interfere with nutrient absorption.
- Fried Foods: Deep fried and junk foods like pakoras, samosa, potato fries, etc., are not suitable for the body as they are rich in trans fats, cause excess calorie intake and may increase inflammation in the body.
To conclude, bodybuilding is a very demanding sport. It required a lot of dedication and effort in diet and exercise. A balanced meal plan is necessary for optimal results. As you increase the intensity of your workout depending upon the fitness goal, you can also opt for bodybuilding supplements like amino acids, creatine, multivitamins and pre-workouts to enhance your overall stamina, endurance and athletic performance.