I hear it all too often from new bodybuilders. “I just have to eat a lot of protein and workout to get ripped, right?” I wish that were the case.
Having a well balanced diet to accompany any workout plan, whether the ultimate goal is to lose weight or to simply build muscle, is crucial to success.
To understand why a diet is so important, we have to look at the cascading effect of body building and how bad habits early on can eventually lead to problems down the road.
The Calorie Problem
Whenever you go to the gym, you’re obviously burning off calories. This can be good or bad.
If your goal is to lose weight, obviously burning more calories than you consume during the day is the first step towards losing weight.
However, if your goal is to get bigger, you’re going to have to consume more calories than you’re burning off from weight lifting or body building activities.
This raises the question of where those calories should come from.
If you’re in the boat of wanting to bulk up and build muscle in the long run, you face a problem of figuring out where to get enough calories during the day.
Obviously, junk foods are packed with calories and they’re easy to consume, but is junk food really the best way to go when looking for a calorie boost during the day?
We’re all human and crave a pizza every once in a while, but for those serious about body building, you’re going to have to say no to these temptations more than you’d like.
Here’s the layman’s science behind why junk food is actually bad for you. See, there are many different types of calories that you can eat every day. Not all calories are made the same.
While it’s true having enough calories in your diet to bulk up is important, if you don’t eat the right type of calories, it doesn’t matter how much you work out, you’ll eventually end up chubby from too much junk food.
Junk food calories are what I like to call “useless calories.” They provide little to no nutritional value and are only going into your body as basic energy. Too much, and you have to go through unnecessary detoxification.
Yes, your body can use these calories to perform the tasks it needs to, but if the calorie is only there as energy and not to provide other nutritional services, there’s no point in eating it.
A calorie you get from eating a piece of broccoli is much more nutrient dense than a Mars bar and if there is nutrition within the food you’re eating that the body can’t currently use, it has a tendency to store it away for a later date.
If all you have is sugar and processed corn starches in the food you’re eating (very common ingredients in candy bars and potato chips), your body will employ the same strategy to store those calories away for a “rainy day.”
There’s a much better chance your body is going to need some of the nutrition from broccoli than from potato chips.
By providing your body with nutritional calories as opposed to junk calories, it will help you stay full for longer because the body is no longer craving for certain vitamin or minerals to help it stay functional.
So, what does all of that even mean?
Well, when the body is taking in too many useless calories in the day and storing them away while it asks to be fed even more to try and obtain the protein and minerals needed for a healthy body, you’ll ultimately end up overeating trying to give your body what it craves.
As a result, all of those extra calories will go straight to your gut.
If your goal is to bulk up in your upper body, having all of your calories go straight to your midsection is probably not that great sounding.
“I’ll get a little fat, so what? I’ll still be able to bulk up, right?” Wrong again. If you continue to eat poorly and all you put into your body is nutrient deficient garbage, your body will never get the protein and nutrients it needs to repair the muscles that you’re working so hard to build up.
Eventually you’ll start to see yourself plateau (and by eventually, I mean rather quickly) and you won’t gain any more of the muscle that you’re looking to build up.
It’s usually at this point that a lot of people give up on their body building routine and revert back to not working out at all or working out very little.
And because they haven’t changed their diets and are still consuming the amount of calories that they were eating when they were body building, they’ll quickly get obese and end up farther down the pipeline than where they started.
Diet is everything and if you can’t manage to eat well while you body build, there’s no point going into the sport at all.
Eating healthy all the time is difficult. I know. I have a bag of Ruffles in my pantry as I write.
Everyone deserves to treat themselves to some junk food once in a while. Our body loves the taste of the salt and oil that’s in these foods, so why not appease it every so often by having a pizza or a double bacon cheeseburger with an extra helping of sweet potato fries on the side?
Obviously, eating these foods on a daily basis isn’t good for you and will slow your body building progress, which is why you shouldn’t get stuck in a rut where all you eat is fatty food that’s full of junk calories.
But when you’re in Vegas for a long weekend, take a break from filling your body with broccoli and lean protein and instead focus on having a great time and eating what you want. Your body may cringe at the food because it isn’t used to it, but it sure tastes good!