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Let’s get one thing straight: The cornerstone of a championship physique is nutrition. Without proper food intake, you can never realize your full genetic and physique potential. For whatever reason, most bodybuilders tend to neglect the importance of healthy eating. They may feel that proper nutrition is not that important, or they use the excuse that they don’t have time to eat properly. Yet when these guys don’t make any significant progress in muscular growth or strength, they automatically blame their training routines.
To compound the problem, the next erroneous step many bodybuilders make is to add extra sets and reps to their workouts. Doing so is like throwing a weighted vest to a drowning man.
To build an effective nutritional plan, you must be aware of the nutritional components that will keep your body in a constant anabolic state. Certain foods contain key nutritional elements that are crucial to building a championship physique. Without this knowledge, you will find it very hard to apply proper bodybuilding nutrition to your lifestyle. Vitamin and mineral levels are essential components of the body that can take years to develop to their fullest capacities. This is why I say everyone is a bodybuilder. Your body is constantly building itself from the foods and liquids you consume. If you feed your body the right foods, water and supplements every day and train consistently—week-in and week-out, your body will gradually change. You will achieve your personal bodybuilding goals.
Besides water, here are the most important nutrients and micronutrients a bodybuilder needs:
1) Protein: Next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in the body. The primary role of protein is the growth and development of all body tissue. For the serious bodybuilder, I recommend no less than 1 gram of protein per pound of muscle. When preparing for a competition, this amount should increase to 1-2 grams per pound of muscle. There are 20 standard amino acids that make up the human body. The body can produce all, but nine. These nine are labeled the essential amino acids and all need to be present in proper proportions for optimal absorption. Major sources of protein, in order of quality, are whey, egg, milk, meat, fish, poultry and legumes.
2) Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for cells, bodily functions and muscular exertions. Carbohydrates provide us with immediate calories for energy. This means carbohydrates are a must for the serious trainer. Many people think they should follow a low-carb diet because they want to look cut. In the short run, it seems to work, as limiting carbs will help you lose weight, but the quick weight loss is usually caused by a loss of water. Carbohydrates hold water—reduce the carbohydrates in your body and you’ll reduce the water your body retains. The result is not fat loss and is certainly not long-term weight loss. The only carbohydrates that should be avoided are the processed or chemically altered food products like French fries, white bread products, packaged snacks, cakes, cookies and a host of other man-made and manufactured products labeled as food. I guarantee that if you consume natural carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables and grain products, you’ll never feel the need to drink caffeine products or use pick-me-up stimulants.
3) Fats: Lipids (fats) are a concentrated source of energy. Fat is used to storing vitamin A, D, E and K. In addition, fat is necessary for the production of steroidal compounds such as testosterone in the body. Both protein and carbohydrates provide approximately 4 calories per gram, and fats provide approximately 9 calories per gram. Fat is a very important nutrient to the body and should never be excluded your diet. Some good sources of fat include olive oil, oily fish, eggs and nuts.