Written by Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD
Bodybuilding is centered around building your body’s muscles through weightlifting and nutrition.
Whether recreational or competitive, bodybuilding is often referred to as a lifestyle, as it involves both the time you spend in and outside the gym.
In order to maximize your results from the gym, you must focus on your diet, as eating the wrong foods can be detrimental to your bodybuilding goals.
This article explains what to eat and avoid on a bodybuilding diet and provides a one-week sample menu.
Bodybuilding differs from powerlifting or Olympic lifting in that it’s judged on a competitor’s physical appearance rather than physical strength.
As such, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain a well-balanced, lean and muscular physique.
To do this, many bodybuilders start with an off-season followed by an in-season way of eating — referred to as a bulking and cutting phase, respectively.
During the bulking phase, which can last months to years, bodybuilders eat a high-calorie, protein-rich diet and lift weights intensely with the goal of building as much muscle as possible (1Trusted Source).
The following cutting phase focuses on losing as much fat as possible while maintaining muscle mass developed during the bulking phase. This is achieved through specific changes in diet and exercise over a period of 12–26 weeks (1Trusted Source).
Bodybuilding training and dieting is typically divided into two phases: bulking and cutting. The goal of the bulking phase is to build muscle, whereas the cutting phase is dedicated to preserving muscle while losing body fat.
There are several health benefits associated with bodybuilding.
In order to maintain and build muscles, bodybuilders exercise frequently, performing both resistance and aerobic training.
Resistance training increases muscle strength and size. Muscle strength is highly correlated with a lower risk of dying from cancer, heart and kidney disease, as well as several other critical illnesses (2Trusted Source).
Aerobic exercise, which bodybuilders regularly implement to reduce body fat, improves heart health and significantly lowers your risk of developing or dying from heart disease — the number one killer in America (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
In addition to exercise, bodybuilders also focus on their nutrition.
With careful planning, bodybuilders can eat in a way that not only supports their efforts in the gym but keeps them healthy too.
Bodybuilders exercise regularly and may eat well-planned and nutrient-dense diets, both of which offer many health benefits.