Is the bodybuilding diet healthy?

Firstly, let’s just take a few moments to appreciate this phenomenal physique. This is Jon Lofthouse from ‘Alpha Pride’, who came third at the British Championships last year when his package wasn’t even at this level. He has most recently qualified in 1st place at the UKBFF Welsh Championships and is soon to compete again at the British in October. To follow Jon on his journey be sure to check him out at @jon_lofthouse – as he’s making some big waves in the industry!

Now, on to the blog. Bodybuilding has become very popular recently and is starting to become a well-known sport. It enables you to sculpt, tone and grow muscles, to create the body you’ve always dreamed of, and to create a body like that must mean it’s healthy – right?

I’ve followed bodybuilding diets myself, as well as knowing many people who commit their lives to these. The focus of these plans are muscle growth and fat loss, and the problem lies when this is not in conjunction with one’s nutrition and health. If you can look that great on a diet not nutritiously competent, think how amazing your body will be when it’s also fed everything it needs to perform at its optimum!

Here are a few things to consider when on a bodybuilding plan;

High protein consumption

Lots of protein helps muscles to grow and repair, which is of course paramount for bodybuilders. However, it’s how you get your protein which can impact on whether or not you’re healthy. Let’s take meat for example. Many bodybuilders consume red meat regularly, like steak and beef. An over consumption has been linked to bowel disease, gout and heart related diseases. Whilst red meat has it’s health benefits, this should be consumed no more than once weekly. Some bodybuilders also consume processed meat because when buying to the volume required, it’s much cheaper. However this has little nutritional value and is more likely to hinder your health than help it. Meat which is not organic and free-range, is unfortunately pumped with synthetic hormones, antibiotics and steroids, obtained from stressed out animals living in confined spaces. Eggs are also a great source of protein and won’t break the bank.

Protein powder

Almost every bodybuilder will consume protein powder on their plan. The industry has led us to believe that we’re not able to obtain enough protein from our diet, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. It’s also not true that this is the best place for us to obtain our protein. It is extremely easy to obtain sufficient amounts of protein from our foods, so why does the bodybuilding industry seem convinced with pushing the protein powders? Unfortunately it comes down to profits. Recommending you to eat more leafy greens isn’t going to make them money, but purchasing a synthetically made cow by-product is. Studies have shown that casein consumed in large quantities enables the creation and growth of cancer cells. Elevated levels of protein have also been linked to kidney damage, liver problems, damage to artery walls and many other problems. So not only is consuming protein powder unnecessary, it’s also extremely damaging to our health. There have been alternative protein powders created for the health conscious, with one of my favourites being these made from bone broth. This contains 20g of protein per scoop and is amazing for your digestive health.

Check it out here – http://www.red23.co.uk/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=bone+broth&osCsid=7655094ad21159283e1a10b314def1ab

Stress

When we push our bodies to lift weights heavier than is comfortable, we put stress on our body. Now I realise that this can’t be avoided if we want to build up a physique like Jon’s. Rather than avoiding this stress, we need to manage this stress. Each workout should be finished with carbohydrate consumption which will help to reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone). It’s also important to practice methods which help our bodies de-stress, such as yoga, ensuring we get our 8 hours of rest each night and setting time aside for rest days.

Repetitive

The bodybuilding diet plan tends to be repetitive. The trouble with plans like that is your vitamin and nutrient consumption is limited. A healthy diet should be high in vegetables and fruit, it should be varied every week, a good balance of meat and fish, and so on. Many bodybuilding plans focus on a select few meals, such as chicken, broccoli and rice.  Be mindful to vary your vegetables and load up on the quantity daily to give you the vitamins you need. Finally, grains are one of the hardest food groups to digest and can therefore be very damaging to anyone who has digestive issues. Grains can permeate the gut lining and cause bodily inflammation, which leads to a whole host of diseases long-term. An alternative of this could be quinoa, buckwheat or amaranth, as these belong to the seed family, or even sweet potato, as these are much easier to digest.

Supplements 

Some of the supplements taken by bodybuilders can have long term effects. Studies have shown an overconsumption of l’glutamine can create the excitotoxin glutamate, which over-excites the cells in the brain to the point in which they die, as well as impairing the mitochondria which will leave you with less energy. There are other numerous links made to MS, alzheimers and liver toxicity. Bodybuilders usually use up all the glutamine through physical exercise before it can accumulate in the brain, but this should not be used long-term. Our main source of any vitamins and nutrients should be our diet, where these are then obtained in their most natural form. We should only be supplementing where it’s impossible to get them from a food source, or where it may be of higher quality in a supplement.

Help your health

I think bodybuilding is a great sport. It tests a person’s physical and mental endurance, creates incredible physiques (check out Jon at @jon_lofthouse) and is a fast-growing competitive sport. There is no reason why this shouldn’t continue and with the right information, we can make diets which achieve great results, without causing detriment to our health. For a healthy way to compete, which not only feeds your muscles but your body, gives you more energy for training and the ability to commit to a plan as long as you need without health concerns, seek a nutrition based bodybuilding plan.

 

For more information, please email helpyourhealthcampaign@outlook.com