Your success as a bodybuilder is, in large part, dependent on what you eat and how focused you stay on your diet. Food is fuel and when you’re growing your muscles and developing your tissues, you need to focus on the fuel that provides strength rather than depletes it. Most bodybuilders approach nutrition like other athletes do; they load up on healthy carbs and high protein foods. Depending on whether you’re bulking or cutting, you probably make minor adjustments to the number of calories you consume. That’s all great.
Make sure you know what to decrease as well as what you should increase. There are a lot of foods that can sabotage your efforts, and nothing is more frustrating than putting in the hours at the gym only to find you’re not getting anywhere. Avoid the following foods when you’re working hard to build a bigger and better body.
Steer Clear of Sugar
Sugar is a no-brainer. Even if you’re trying to gain weight and you want to increase the calories you consume, you should stay away from sugar. It does nothing good for your body. Even if it provides a temporary burst of energy – it’s just that – temporary. You will only end up suffering and feeling sluggish and slow when you eat a lot of sugar.
When you eat too much sugar, your insulin levels spike. This will only encourage you to continue eating bad things, and will ultimately lead to weight gain. If you’re going to eat sugar, you should do so after a workout. At that point, your muscles are beginning the repair and recovery process, and they need carbohydrates. However, even if you’re going to eat sugar, you should choose the type of sugar carefully. Sugar occurs naturally in things like fruit. That’s what you should eat after a workout; not a buffet of cakes and cookies.
Staying away from sugar is easy when you know exactly what you’re avoiding. The candy and ice cream aisle is off limits. However, be careful about added sugars that you might not realize you’re consuming. Those can show up in things like cereals, breads, and even dairy products. Check labels and try to make choices that include natural sugars and not added sugars.
Be Picky With Processed Foods
It’s nearly impossible to stay away from processed foods. They are easier, cheaper, and more convenient than ever before. You have to be careful about what you eat and what you avoid. Even a bag of spinach is processed. But, you shouldn’t cross it off your grocery list. What you really want to watch out for are processed foods that are frozen or factory-made and full of added fat, sugar, and salt. Forget the box of macaroni and cheese. Instead, cook your own pasta with some heart-healthy olive oil and shave some parmesan cheese over the top of it.
Processed meats are especially bad for bodybuilders. You need protein from rich, substantive sources. Focus on great cuts of beef, skinless chicken breasts, and all the fish you can manage. You don’t want hot dogs and pastrami that are full of chemicals and additives. Processed foods like that are filled with empty calories that won’t help you increase your muscle mass. In fact, foods like that will impede it because your body will be too busy fighting off the negative effects of those foods to focus on cell growth and muscle tissue.
When you’re working out hard and moving yourself towards a goal, it’s difficult to keep track of all the moving parts. Spending a lot of time on your diet can seem like wasted time, but it’s not. When you’re careful and intentional, what you eat will help you reach your goals faster. What you DON’T eat will also have an impact. Keep your nutrition at the forefront of your bodybuilding plans, and make good choices. You’ll be stronger in more ways than one.