Many people fantasize about being bodybuilders, with ripped abs and bulging biceps. But what’s it really like to be one? As a natural bodybuilding coach myself, I can tell you that this isn’t an easy lifestyle to live; you have to watch every morsel of food that goes into your mouth and make sure that every muscle group gets worked out regularly, or else everything will just fall apart quickly and you’ll end up on the couch eating chocolate cake. Furthermore, ripped abs isn’t always a sign of a healthy diet either, and in many cases isn’t something that is compatible with concepts of natural bodybuilding.
The Habits of Successful Bodybuilders – Nutrition Tips by Coach Maxwell Alexander, Author of “The Secrets of Natural Bodybuilding” on Amazon Kindle
Bodybuilding Workouts: Eat Before and After
It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to eat before and after you work out. For example, if you’re planning a heavy upper-body workout, load up on carbs before your session. This means eating slow-digesting carbs about two hours before you hit the gym and eating more carbohydrates (low glycemic) 30 minutes after your workout is complete. You also should eat plenty of protein post-workout as it stimulates muscle growth.
How Much Time Should I Spend on Cardio?
If you are looking to maximize your muscle-building potential, then it’s very important that you don’t spend too much time on cardio. You might have heard people say, You should do cardio X times per week. I have also been guilty of making such recommendations to others. However, what matters most is how efficiently and effectively you burn calories via cardio in relation to how many calories you consume. Many bodybuilders overdo their cardio without a good understanding of how it impacts their ability to gain muscle mass. I’d say, focus on HIIT workouts instead: kettlebells are perfect for that.
When Can I Have My Post-Workout Carbs?
Post-workout carbs are a powerful weapon in your nutritional arsenal. Eating them at just the right time can help fuel recovery and growth, but when you do eat post-workout carbs may not be as cut and dry as you think. In short, there is no one perfect time to eat post-workout; instead, it depends on your training style and goals. If you’re training fasted in an attempt to gain size, then having some sort of carb source immediately after a workout is important.
What Foods Should I Eat for Breakfast?
People often ask, What should I eat for breakfast? The answer depends on your goals and personal needs. If you are bodybuilding to put on muscle mass, you may want to consume a more balanced meal that includes carbohydrates and protein—not just protein. An example would be an egg white omelet with vegetables and whole-grain toast. This combination provides both carbs and protein that will keep you going until lunchtime or later in the day.
Rest Day Diet Tips
Take it easy on your rest days. While bodybuilding is a high-intensity activity, you also need rest to keep your body and mind operating at their best. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating adequate calories every day. Rest days are ideal for recuperation and refueling—don’t get them confused with cheat days or freebies where you consume excessive amounts of food, drinks, or calories. Instead, relax and replenish so that you can hit it hard again tomorrow! I personally don’t do more than 1 rest day a week, though I still have them as active recovery days with a bit of yoga, stretching, or hiking.
For most people, eating healthy foods on a regular basis is sufficient for weight loss and maintenance. However, if you’re looking to improve body composition (your lean muscle to fat ratio), meal timing plays an important role. Even small changes in nutrient partitioning can have significant impacts on your overall physique. If you are looking for a more comprehensive resource on how to get into bodybuilding, consider reading my new book The Secrets of Natural Bodybuilding on Amazon Kindle.