Success in the sport of bodybuilding is highly dependent on following an appropriate diet. Female and male bodybuilders have slightly different goals and nutrition requirements; however, most follow the same basic strategy when preparing for a competition. Although training plays a crucial role in bodybuilding, without the right diet long hours in the gym may go unrewarded.
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Nutrition for Athletes
In general, athletes should follow a healthy diet based on the eatwell plate provided by the Food Standards Agency; however, nutrition requirements for athletes vary by type of sport and amount of training required. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends a macronutrient diet composition for athletes of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrates, 12 to 15 percent protein and 20 to 30 percent fat.
In her book "Sports Nutrition," Christine A. Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, describes nutrition requirements for body builders during each of the four training phases: maintenance, building, tapering and cutting.
The maintenance phase of body building takes place during the off season; the goal during this phase according to Rosenbloom, is to avoid lean muscle tissue loss and fat gain. For female body builders, the maintenance diet consists of approximately 17.3 to 18.2 calories per pound of body weight, .55 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 3.6 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day; the remaining calories come from fat. For example a 10-stone (140-pound) female would require approximately 2,450 calories, 77 grams of protein and 504 grams of carbohydrate per day during the maintenance phase of body building.
During the building phase the bodybuilder feels rested from the last competition; the goal is to build lean muscle tissue while minimising fat gain. During the building phase, female bodybuilders consume approximately 20 calories per pound of body weight, which should include .64 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 4.1 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day; the remaining calories come from fat.
Tapering is typically begun about 12 weeks prior to the athlete’s body-building competition. During the tapering phase the goal is to lose fat, maintain and slightly build muscle and gain definition. The tapering diet consists of approximately 15.9 calories per pound of body weight, to be comprised of .82 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 2.7 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight, the remaining calories to come from fat.
The cutting phase is the final phase; the cutting diet is followed one week prior to a body building competition (if needed) to get rid of remaining unwanted body fat. The cutting diet should not be followed for more than one week since it’s low in calories and is combined with high-intensity training. During the cutting phase females consume approximately 13.6 calories per pound of body weight, including .82 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 2.3 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight; the remaining calories come from fat.
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