THE DIET MENTALITY

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For a dieting bodybuilder, gaining muscle while losing body fat is a matter of mentality.

June 25, 2008

Written by FLEX Staff

We all know what to do to loose weight, but build muscle. Here's what not to do:

1. Don't diet impatiently—Your body needs at least three weeks to adapt to dietary modifications, so be patient. Don't anticipate immediate changes. If you start a high-carb, moderate-protein, low-fat diet with reduced calories, visible progress will probably not occur until after 21 days.

2. Don't lose track of tracking calories—Count everything you eat; not only calories, but carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Consult Nutrition Almanac or a comparable source.

3. Don't eat haphazardly—Whether you're trying to lose fat or gain lean body mass, remain consistent. Sporadic eating is anathema to progress. If you're a hard-gainer or have a difficult time getting ripped, the five-meals-a-day plan is the best; it stabilizes nutrient absorption while inhibiting fat storage.

4. Don't be scale-subservient—Don't depend upon the scale to fine-tune your diet. It's a good general gauge, but seeing a numerical difference can cause one to overcompensate. It's better to rely on photos and an unbiased eye.

5. Don't overeat—Bodybuilders who try to gain mass often overeat, taking in too many calories that turn to body fat. They do the same with carbohydrates, expecting more energy for hard training. Get enough, not an excess.

6. Don't be a follower—There's nothing wrong with doing what the pro bodybuilders do, but use their diet only as a template, then adapt it to your metabolism. Jay Cutler's diet might be similar in most regards to Dexter Jackson's, but it's not identical.

7. Supplements are not magic bullets—In relying too much on supplements, bodybuilders often fail to consume enough calories and proteins to stimulate a positive nitrogen balance for muscle building, or they fail to reduce their food calories and consequently add body fat. Remember: supplements "supplement" food; they don't replace it.

8. Don't be a single-food slave—Vary your diet. It's too easy to burn out from eating only chicken breasts or canned tuna every meal, day after day.

9. Free yourself from fat-free tyranny—Removing fat completely from your diet and relying exclusively on non-fat foods and fat-free proteins such as turkey, fish and protein powders can retard growth or lead to a decrease in fat metabolism. A low-fat diet that includes essential fatty acids found in meat, chicken and fish is better.

10. Avoid sudden, enormous changes—When adding or subtracting calories from your diet, do so gradually, to give your body time to adapt. A radical reduction will cause the body to hoard fat; a radical increase will stimulate fat storage. FLEX.

FLEX FORUMS: Discuss your diet with fellow bodybuilders.

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