The bodybuilding lifestyle relies heavily upon three very important elements: training, rest/recovery and nutrition. When one of those components is missing from your daily routine, the long and arduous process of building a physique you can be proud of just becomes that much longer to attain. With regards to our nutrition, many of us have a profound attachment to food. Yes we do see food as a fuel source to power our workouts and heal damaged muscles for new growth, but we also have an emotional attachment to the foods we love and this is where many of us falter. As a bodybuilder or just as someone trying to better their current body composition, you have to approach your nutrition with a different perspective. Rather than just eating when you're hungry, or satisfying cravings or eating whatever is available to you, you have to learn how to eat for purpose and not just for pleasure or convenience. If you can do that, then your goals and ambitions will become a reality and you'll be a much better version of yourself for it. If you're not exactly sure where to start in creating a diet worthy of sticking to, here are a few suggestions that will help you when designing a diet that you'll be able to maintain and easily alter as you progress through your journey.
Establish Clear Goals
First and foremost, you have to know exactly what it is you are going to try to achieve when creating your diet. If losing overall body weight is the goal, then a lower calorie approach is going to take precedence. If burning fat and gaining muscle is the goal, then a higher protein based diet is going to be key. If you're trying to get huge, then lots of calorie dense whole foods from each macronutrient group is going to be on your menu. Once you've determined where it is you want to take your body, the fun begins. On the other hand, if you're just going to put something together to see what happens, there's a good chance you experience disappointment and a small chance you'll achieve success. Establishing clear goals is the only way to go about creating a diet. When you know your destination, you have a better chance at mapping out the direction you need to head in so don't waste your time seeing what might happen when you can create a diet in which you know what will happen.
Choose Foods You Like
There is no sense whatsoever in choosing foods to be included on your daily menu if you don't like them. Even if everyone you talk to about diet design and everything you read online pertaining to the best foods for achieving your goals says to eat a certain food or foods, if you can't handle the taste of it or can't stomach it for some reason, don't force it upon yourself. You will never stick with your diet if you can't stand the foods you're eating. You have to like what you eat, period! With so many healthy options out there for you, with a little bit of experimentation, you can and will find foods that will offer you the same results with minimal to no distaste for them. Listen, I've been there and have forced foods that I hate down the gutter just because of the health and performance benefits it offered but I did so only because I didn't explore other options and give those options a fair chance. Once I did, dieting became way easier to withstand and maintain. So do yourself a favour and choose the foods you like and don't mind eating every single day because that's what it takes.
Learn Your Body
The final piece of advice I'll give you with respect to creating the perfect diet, is to learn your body. What I mean by that is we all react differently to the foods we ingest and some foods are better for us, as individuals, than others. If you already have some food allergies that you are aware of you know exactly what I'm talking about because you avoid the foods that give you trouble at all costs. If you're not aware of any adverse reactions to foods that you might have, either minor or significant, it just might mean you haven't been paying as close attention to how your body responds to foods as you should. For example, when you get bloated after eating a meal, it means that something in the foods you ate is causing some degree of internal inflammation. Heart burn and indigestion is another great example of adverse reactions to food. Digestion issues and not being able to process your foods properly are also part of this. When any of these things happen, take note of what it was you ate prior to experiencing these things so that you can eliminate the cause of the problem. The fact of the matter here is you won't be able to properly and effectively absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat if those foods are always giving you issues and if you're not paying attention to what's happening you're only further delaying the processes that should be occurring as the result of great nutrition.
Now here's the thing, the perfect diet for you this week may not necessarily be the perfect diet for you next week and the week after that and that's what makes this whole bodybuilding thing we do exciting and troubling all at the same time. The best thing you can do for yourself is be cognizant of your food choices, experiment and take note of what happens after you eat your meals and always go grocery shopping in your Super Freaks.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.