GENERAL NUTRITION REFRESHER COURSE: 7 BASICS YOU NEED TO SUCCEED

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#1 Eat balanced meals

If you think it's all about protein, think again. Bodybuilding nutrition is about providing your body with the optimal balance of foods at every meal. In fact, your body can handle only so much protein for muscle building. Once you reach this saturation point, protein is torn down and used for energy, an inefficient, cost-ineffective process. Instead, consume a balanced diet of healthy fats, complex carbs, protein and vegetables.

#2 Keep nutrients steady through the day

Part of the reason for eating several meals a day is to provide your body with a steady stream of nutrients. It's important to eat five to seven meals a day, and to eat healthy fats, quality protein and complex carbs at every meal for a continuous supply of macronutrients to keep your body growing.

#3 Consume adequate protein

Bodybuilders must eat quality protein. Without protein, you simply aren't providing your body with the most rudimentary tool for muscle building. Consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day.

#4 Eat complex carbs

Bodybuilders often avoid carbohydrates for fear they will add too much bodyfat. Most amateur bodybuilders eat plenty of carbs, but they eat simple or starchy carbs at the expense of the more beneficial complex kind. Emphasize foods such as yams, oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain breads in your diet. These foods, coupled with protein, are the ones that most encourage muscle growth.

#5 Eat healthy fats

As a bodybuilder, you need healthy fats for optimal hormone production and immune function, and for a sense of well-being. Include moderate portions of healthy fats with most meals. Excellent sources include canola and olive oils, nuts and seeds, avocados and fatty fish, such as salmon.

#6 Eat plenty of fiber

As a rule, bodybuilding foods do not contain as much fiber as bodybuilders need. The best solution is to add whole foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Using a fiber supplement is also an option. While these products lack the nutrients of whole food, they provide your body with the fiber it needs.

#7 Drink sufficient water

Water is the great purifier, and bodybuilders especially need purification. Essentially, the larger you are and the more food you consume, the more water you need on a daily basis. A 200-pound bodybuilder should drink at least one gallon of water per day in addition to other beverages.

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