Natural bodybuilders approach their sport without the use of steroids, growth hormones or other banned substances. As a natural bodybuilder, you rely on diet and strength training alone to build a strong, lean physique. Choosing whole, natural food, planning for an ideal ratio of macronutrients and timing food intake are meal plan strategies essential to success in natural bodybuilding.
Proper diet gives you the energy to sustain workouts and to maximize muscle growth. A typical bodybuilding diet consists of multiple meals per day – usually between five and seven – consumed every three hours. You divide your daily calorie needs evenly over all of the meals. Each meal should contain some lean protein, quality carbohydrates and healthy fats. One of your meals should occur around the time of your workout to ensure that worked muscles get adequate protein and carbohydrates to help with repair and recovery.
During the off-season, you need enough calories to sustain energy and build muscle. Too many calories can cause unwanted fat gain, however. Many dietitians recommend consuming about 15 percent more calories than you need to sustain your weight when you are looking to build muscle.
For example, if you need 2,500 calories to maintain your weight, consume 2,875 calories daily to build muscle. In the pre-competition season, you need to trim calories to stimulate fat loss. Eating too few calories can cause your body to cannibalize your hard-earned muscle mass. Aim for about 15 percent fewer calories to maximize fat loss without muscle loss.
Although bodybuilders need more protein than the average person does, you should not sacrifice other nutrients to get it.
The International Society of Sports Medicine recommends athletes, such as bodybuilders, consume as much as .9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. For a 180-pound natural bodybuilder, this is equal to 162 grams of protein per day – the amount in more than 1 pound of chicken. You should also aim for 55 to 60 percent of your daily calories to come from carbohydrates and 15 to 20 percent of calories to come from healthy fats.
Because you cannot rely on banned substances to make up for dietary foibles, your food choices must be impeccable. Quality carbohydrates include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice. Lean proteins include bison, chicken breast, tofu, beans, egg whites, fish and white-meat turkey. Healthy unsaturated fats help to promote hormone production essential to muscle growth and are in plant oils, nuts and fatty fish.
The exact portion size at each meal depends on your daily calorie needs. Your first meal of the day could consist of scrambled egg whites with one whole egg, oatmeal and a whole orange. For your second meal have a sandwich on whole-grain bread with uncured turkey breast, tomato slices and low-fat mayonnaise.
Your third meal, coinciding with lunch, might include grilled lean steak, brown rice and steamed vegetables. For a meal that coincides with your workout, make a smoothie with a banana, soymilk and whey protein powder. Your dinner contains roasted salmon, sweet potato and steamed spinach. Prior to dinner, enjoy some low-fat cottage cheese with a handful of raw almonds and an apple.
For more information go to The Secrets to Natural Bodybuilding Training
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