The 6 Biggest Mistakes Bodybuilders Make
Don’t let these common errors rob you of your gains. Avoiding these pitfalls will help you build more muscle in less time!
For many bodybuilders, putting in the time and hard work at the gym is the easier piece of the muscle building picture. Nutrition can be the most challenging part of bodybuilding, but it is also the most important component in maximizing your success in the gym.
With so much conflicting information however, it can be difficult to know what is right and wrong and what works best for you. By uncovering the biggest nutritional mistakes of bodybuilders, we can get closer to the truths of the nutrition puzzle and unlock the key to an optimal anabolic diet.
1. Eating too Much
Bodybuilders love to get big, that’s why they train in the first place. To put on muscle, you have to eat a lot of calories. More importantly, you have to eat a lot of the right calories. Too often, bodybuilders can confuse bulking up with increasing their caloric intake beyond their bodies’ daily requirement.
Excess calories are stored as body fat, plain and simple.
Body fat is the bodybuilder’s number one enemy, for the more you gain, the more you have to lose, and the more you have to lose, the harder it will be to maintain your lean body mass while lowering overall body fat levels. To lose fat and retain muscle, besides aerobic exercise, you need to eat precise amounts of quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fat.
Monitoring your nutrient intake with a food log is the best way to ensure you achieve metabolic nirvana all the while increasing your lean body mass, and not just bulking up in all the wrong ways. Besides, what’s the point of building an impressive physique of muscles, just to have them covered in a layer of lard?
2. Eating too Little
Under-eating is just as bad as overeating. Physiologically, it’s impossible to build muscle if your diet lacks proper nutrients. Ample amounts of protein, carbohydrates and even fats are necessary to build muscle.
The trick is balance.
Specifically, protein is the single most important nutrient for muscle regeneration and building. Start by ingesting 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Divide your total protein intake into 4-8 equal portions and eat these meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
Also, try structuring these meals around your training. Eating a meal consisting of a lean protein like white fish paired with white rice post workout will increase your insulin sensitivity. White rice specifically is higher on the glycemic index and acts as a shuttle for protein into the muscle, assisting in better protein synthesis and overall better results in your muscle building efforts.
3. Failing to Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
Meal preparation is a critical skill. To be truly successful as a bodybuilder, you should be able to prepare your own food and have it ready for meal time. Missing a meal, eating something you otherwise shouldn’t, or not eating enough throughout the day and then eating too much at night, can derail any successes you are having in the gym. Not only do you have to come to grips with prepping in advance, you also have to develop a wide inventive repertoire of dishes and meals.
Imagination is key when dealing with clean food
Eating the same foods day in and day out with little or no experimentation in how to spice, dress or cook your meals, can leave your diet bland and may increase your chances of falling off course and indulging in something you shouldn’t. For most, the work in the weight room is the easy part. Meal planning and prepping takes a lot of hard work and time, but is crucial to any successful bodybuilders’ nutritional habits.
4. Not Drinking Enough Water
Far too often, bodybuilders underestimate how much water they should be drinking. Drinking water is not only healthy, but also increases the efficiency of a wide variety of metabolic processes involved in building muscle and burning fat.
The body is mostly water, and muscles are no exception.
Muscles are more than 75% water, and the proper shuttling and delivery of many nutrients to our muscle requires water. Water also flushes the system continually and regularly, regenerating muscle cells through water replenishment and keeping the liver and kidneys operating efficiently.
Water can also help curb your appetite and make you feel fuller, which becomes more important as calorie intake decreases closer to contest. Certain foods can also help increase water intake, including romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, broccoli, celery and watermelon.
In fact, even drinking ice cold water will actually help you lose weight too. Your body has to warm up the water in order for it to be used properly. Warming up the water uses energy, which uses calories.
5. Drinking Alcohol
It has been shown in some studies that alcohol can have a negative effect on optimal protein synthesis and can slow down the recovery process. One way it does this is by speeding up dehydration, and we know the importance of proper hydration to maximizing our goals in the gym.
The sugar in alcohol can also derail any metabolic conditioning, not to mention the pounds you can pack on from the added caloric intake.
Finally, the wretched hang over effect from excessive consumption can ruin your performance in the gym the next day. Over consumption can also lead to lower testosterone levels, a hormone key to any bodybuilders’ muscle growth efforts.
6. Ignoring Supplementation
We all have little holes and shortcomings in our diets and supplements help us round them out. All elite athletes use supplements. The expense, hassle and confusion of diet supplementing can scare off any newcomer to bodybuilding, but they are a must have in your muscle building arsenal.
A quality protein powder can assist in getting the right calories you need for recovery and muscle growth.
Glutamine can help with recovery, limiting your down time and allowing you to get back into the gym with the same energy as yesterday’s workout. Supplementing with a high grade carbohydrate powder can also help with sustaining energy through longer or more intense workouts, or can also help to keep your carbohydrate intake in check, especially closer to a competition.
Leucine, a Branch Chain Amino Acid found in BCAAs, is crucial to optimal protein synthesis. Finally, supplementing with a powdered green can increase your fibre intake and some have added benefits like milk thistle, excellent for detoxifying the liver which can be under increased stress with a high protein diet.
The key is to listen to your body, train hard, discipline, and determination will help you achieve your goals!
Contributing Blogger: Sarah Fowler
Personal Trainer, Bikini Tall Athlete