Muscle is composed primarily of protein and water. Protein builds muscle mass but not all protein consumed in the diet goes directly to muscle. Adequate consumption of protein helps preserve muscle tissue and enhance recovery from strenuous weight-bearing workouts. Since weight-bearing exercises cause significant damage to muscle tissue, the subsequent repair and growth of muscle requires a recovery period of at least 24 hours. If an inadequate amount of protein is consumed, muscle mass will suffer along with a decrease in metabolism. Most bodybuilding diets recommend 1-1.5 grams of protein per day for each pound of lean body mass (body weight minus body fat). Daily consumption of more than 3g per kilogram body mass can lead to serious health problems, especially kidney damage. Protein is found in lean meat, poultry, and fish, eggs, tofu, and soy products.
Fat in a diet is needed to maintain a healthy metabolism. There are four types of fat: saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. Saturated and trans fats are limited because high consumption is a risk factor for heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and some cancers. Sources of saturated and trans fats are butter, whole milk products, fried foods, shortening, and coconut, palm, and other tropical oils. Meat with visible fat is also a source of saturated fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good fats because they lower the risks of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. These fats are derived from avocados, most nuts, fish, flax, and olive, canola, peanut, safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils.
Two other important factors in the bodybuilding diet are water and the number and timing of meals. Bodybuilding diets suggest drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. In addition, bodybuilders drink about a quarter cup of water every fifteen minutes during their workout. Water helps control appetite and drinking cold water increases metabolism.
The number and content of meals is important as is the timing and quality of foods, especially just before and just after workouts. An efficient way to burn fat is to elevate the body’s metabolism. The process of digesting meals burns calories in itself, so a concept of this diet is to eat more frequently to make the process more efficient. Most bodybuilding diets recommend consuming six to eight smaller meals a day, starting with breakfast. Carbohydrates are important right after a workout because the body’s supply of glycogen (a compound easily converted to glucose for energy) is depleted. Many bodybuilding nutritionists recommend that the post-workout meal contain twice the calories, protein, and carbohydrates as the other meals of the day. The pre-workout meal contains foods high in carbohydrates since they improve exercise performance and enhance muscle recovery.
The purpose of the bodybuilding diet is to gain muscle mass and lose fat. It is not a weight loss diet and most people will likely gain weight. Nutrition provides the body, especially muscles, with the raw materials needed for energy, recuperation, growth, and strength.
The benefits of the bodybuilding diet are health and appearance. The bodybuilding diet promotes increased muscle mass, which increases metabolism.
When monitored by a health professional, the bodybuilding diet can be healthy method for increasing strength and body mass. Caution should be used in regard to nutritional supplements, especially protein powders. Excess protein intake is known to cause serious health problems such as kidney damage and dehydration. Bodybuilders should discuss any supplements with their doctor, and steroids, such as human growth hormone and testosterone, should only be used for medical reasons and with a doctor’s prescription. Since exercise is a main component of the diet, people with arthritis or back, knee, or other joint problems should discuss the fitness regimen with their physicians before starting exercise. Making major changes to a person’s diet should be done in small incremental steps so the body can adapt to the changes. A sudden reduction or increase in calories can cause the body to store or hoard fat.
The rigorous and regular exercise component of this diet is a risk to people with heart disease or certain other health problems. Individuals with these conditions should consult their physician before starting the diet. A bodybuilding diet is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.
RESEARCH AND GENERAL ACCEPTANCE
The bodybuilding diet is generally accepted by the medical and bodybuilding communities as being safe and effective in helping increase muscle mass and decrease fat. There is no general acceptance on the exact ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Protein is considered the basic nutrient in repairing muscle that is broken down during weightlifting and for muscle maintenance and growth. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) per day for protein is 0.8 g/kg. However, research shows that a greater amount of protein is needed for weightlifters. Depending on a person’s level of activity, the amount of protein needed for a bodybuilder is greater than the RDA, but not more than 1.5-2 g/kg. Research indicates that muscles double the rate of protein synthesis following exercise and remains elevated for at least 24 hours.
The amount of carbohydrates in a bodybuilder’s diet can range from 40-60 percent, but such levels are not necessarily effective. An inadequate consumption of carbohydrates can have a negative effect of exercise performance and duration. Other studies have shown that the dominant factor in weight loss is a reduction of calorie intake. There has been a great deal of research on bodybuilding nutrition from the 1980s forward.
Source: “The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets,” Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe, Detroit, Gale, 2008
Republished by Blood Glucose