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Fitness & Bodybuilding:
A Simple Approach To Nutrition
Nutrition is key for bodybuilding, especially when it comes down to contest time and getting "shredded." It takes a lot of will power and discipline to make the right choices and to eat the right foods.
Well, what I'm about to share with you goes against what most bodybuilders will tell you. In fact, many will try to convince you that you have to diet, starve yourself, and even dehydrate yourself in order to look good enough to compete.
Unless you're competing on the pro-level, this isn't necessary. I competed twice at the amateur level (through the NPC). The first time, I took 4th place-and I used a diet to cut up. The second competition, I took 1st place and never changed my diet.
I'm going to teach you how to shred and cut without "dieting" or depriving yourself, but there is one catch, and it's extremely important. You need to forget about "bulking phases."
- They didn't "bulk" on their off seasons as bodybuilders do today. Instead, they kept their body fat percentages low year-round. Why? Because they knew they could still increase lean body mass without adding a bunch of fat.
- They didn't have the countless supplements and drugs we have today, so when they "cut up" for competitions they needed to be as close as possible to contest condition (NOTE: This also decreases the chance of your muscles becoming flat from too much dieting and water restricting).
This is the secret: staying close to competitive shape year-round and still being able to put on lean body mass. You will learn a simple, yet very effective approach to eating that will deliver these results. Over the past year, I have put on 20 pounds of muscle while staying at 6% body fat, so I know it can be done!
Eating Made Simple
Eating doesn't have to be complicated. True, you can manipulate your body with more precision using a more detailed and complex approach, but you can get very similar results without the headache or extra time. What I'm going to teach you is a simple approach to getting lean, staying lean, and still being able to add mass so, come contest time, you don't have to drastically change your eating to get "shredded."
The most effective-and easiest-aspect to control in nutrition is portions. If you start using portions to gauge your meals, you won't even have to count
calories anymore. In fact, any modifications you make will be adding or subtracting a portion or two.
So what is a portion? What makes it so simple?
- A portion of carbohydrates is the size of your fist.
- A portion of protein is the size of your palm.
- A portion of vegetables is the size of your open hand.
What you do with the portions is how you will manipulate your body, but portions are a lot easier to deal with than calories and grams-trust me.
So here's the prescription (and it's not more cow bell): Just eat one portion of carbohydrates and one portion of protein six times each day. Then, add a serving of vegetables to AT LEAST three of the daily meals. Yep, it's that easy!
Six meals might seem like a lot, but consider this: Your
metabolism is similar to a fire. If all the firewood is placed on the fire at one time, there's a huge flame, but the fire burns out relatively quickly. HOWEVER, by continually feeding the fire with smaller amounts of firewood, a large flame is sustained for a prolonged period of time. By eating six meals a day, you continually fuel your metabolism, which does three things:
- Provides more energy through the day;
- Burns more calories;
- Curbs your appetite and eliminates the urge to binge.
Now, if you want to gain weight, I suggest adding some carbohydrates. Yeah, I said carbs. Protein has it's place, but consider this: When you work out, your muscles convert carbohydrates into ATP (energy) to lift the weight.
We need carbohydrates for energy in the weight room; they increase performance. Carbs also hydrate the muscles. Ever wonder why they're called CarboHYDRATEs? By neglecting carbs, you're going to sacrifice performance and pump.
Say you wanted to put on muscle mass without gaining any fat. This feat seems impossible, but let's take a look at how simple it actually is.
First, let's assume you've hit a plateau. Let's also assume you weigh 160 pounds-just about average for most people trying to gain weight. You haven't gained any fat or muscle, but you haven't lost any either.
Here's an example of your current diet (NOTE: This is a simplified diet and not necessarily suggested meals).
Approximate Calories: 2,750
Carbs: 307g (45%)
Protein: 140g (20%)
Fats: 120g (35%)
Now, let's say we wanted to put on mass without gaining fat. Well, in the complicated world of calories, a typical suggestion would be to add about 300-500 calories a day. Why? Well, one pound of muscle contains 600 calories and one pound of fat contains 3,500 calories.
Increasing calories by 300-500 a day translates into a 2,000-3,500 calories a week-no more than a pound of fat. This provides your body with extra calories to gain weight without putting on fat.
How is this done? We're just going to add two portions. One portions of
carbs, and one portion of
Approximate Calories: 3,050
Carbs: 347g (46%)
Protein: 150g (20%)
Fats: 128g (34%)
By following the suggestions above, you will be able to put on mass without adding a lot of fat. Staying in this lean condition will make it so much easier to prep your body for a contest. Unfortunately, everyone is slightly different when it comes to their body's response to certain foods.
There isn't a uniform meal plan that can deliver equal results for everyone, so this is where a bit of experimentation and journaling comes in. Below is the formula that worked well for me.
- Eight weeks out from a contest, remove one portion of carbohydrates and replace it with a portion of vegetables-the more color the better.
- Six weeks out, remove another portion of carbohydrates.
- Four weeks out is where this program becomes a little more complex. This is because you will have to determine what your body needs. Depending on your condition and shape, you might have to cut a portion of carbs, proteins, or both.
You will have to monitor your body to see how it reacts to your decisions. If you still need to get a little leaner, cut both carbs and protein. If you're feeling tired and struggling through your workouts, but your physique is close to your goal, cut one portion of protein. If you're physique is close to where you want it, but you want to keep the muscles full and still get a little leaner, cut a portion of protein.
- Two weeks out, cut out two portions of carbs and replace them with a portion of protein. Make sure to start cutting your sodium levels and drinking extra water.
- The week leading up to the competition, look in the mirror to see how your body is progressing. You can start adding carbs in a process called "carb loading". Cutting any more portions may lead to a flat, deflated look. This is where you will have to experiment and create the proper portions for contest day.
That's it. This is a simple approach to getting lean come contest time. Portions are much easier to see and control, and, if you stay lean year-round, you won't struggle to cut down so fast. Some may also find that they don't even need to change their diet because they are lean enough. If this is the case, congratulations and good luck.