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Lean muscle building PDf Ebook on Tablet in gym. The Natural Guide To Building Lean Muscle: Natural Bodybuilding Ebook. Copyright Train-Natural BB for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: observations and suggestions. Paulo Gentil. Abstract. Bodybuilding is full of myths and practices. without permission in writing from caite.info Disclaimer: Before beginning any diet and exercise program, consult your physician. The author and .


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PDF | The popularity of natural bodybuilding is increasing; however, evidence- based recommendations for it are lacking. This paper reviewed the scientific. Recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: Resistance and cardiovascular training. Article (PDF Available) in The Journal. Natural Bodybuilding Competition Preparation and Recovery: A Month Case Study. Lindy M. Rossow, David H. Fukuda, Christopher A. Fahs,. Jeremy P.

A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. However, an isocaloric diet was used, with only a change in the percentage of carbohydrate contributing to the diet. Willoughby et al. Acute and long-term effects of resistance exercise with or without protein ingestion on muscle hypertrophy and gene expression. However, Arciero et al. Table 4 Percentage food group intake of competitive bodybuilders during contest preparation. If a competitor is not this lean at the start of the preparation, faster weight loss will be required which may carry a greater risk for LBM loss.

In a review by Phillips and Van Loon [ 28 ], it is suggested that a protein intake of 1. While this is one of the only recommendations existing that targets athletes during caloric restriction, this recommendation is not given with consideration to bodybuilders performing concurrent endurance and resistance training at very low levels of body fat. However, the recently published systematic review by Helms et al. Moreover, the authors suggest that the lower the body fat of the individual, the greater the imposed caloric deficit and when the primary goal is to retain LBM, the higher the protein intake within the range of 2.

High carbohydrate diets are typically thought to be the athletic performance standard. However, like protein, carbohydrate intake needs to be customized to the individual. Inadequate carbohydrate can impair strength training [ 41 ] and consuming adequate carbohydrate prior to training can reduce glycogen depletion [ 42 ] and may therefore enhance performance.

While it is true that resistance training utilizes glycogen as its main fuel source [ 43 ], total caloric expenditure of strength athletes is less than that of mixed sport and endurance athletes. However, in the specific case of a bodybuilder in contest preparation, achieving the necessary caloric deficit while consuming adequate protein and fat would likely not allow consumption at the higher end of this recommendation.

Satiety and fat loss generally improve with lower carbohydrate diets; specifically with higher protein to carbohydrate ratios [ 44 - 49 ].

In terms of performance and health, low carbohydrate diets are not necessarily as detrimental as typically espoused [ 50 ]. In a recent review, it was recommended for strength athletes training in a calorically restricted state to reduce carbohydrate content while increasing protein to maximize fat oxidation and preserve LBM [ 28 ].

However, the optimal reduction of carbohydrate and point at which carbohydrate reduction becomes detrimental likely needs to be determined individually. However, muscular endurance was degraded in the lower carbohydrate group.

In a study of athletes taking in the same amount of protein 1. Mettler, et al. Finally, in Pasiakos et al. One key difference between these studies was the highest protein group in Mettler et al. While performance was not measured, the participants in Pasiakos et al. The difference in training protocols or a nutritionally mediated decrement in training performance could have either or both been components that lead to the greater losses of LBM observed by Pasiakos et al. While it appears low carbohydrate, high protein diets can be effective for weight loss, a practical carbohydrate threshold appears to exist where further reductions negatively impact performance and put one at risk for LBM losses.

Therefore, once a competitor has reached or has nearly reached the desired level of leanness, it may be a viable strategy to reduce the caloric deficit by an increase in carbohydrate. However, it should be noted that like losses of LBM, decrements in performance may not affect the competitive outcome for a bodybuilder. It is possible that competitors who reach the leanest condition may experience unavoidable drops in performance.

The importance of carbohydrate and protein in sports nutrition is often emphasized over that of dietary fat.

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Subsequently, recommendations typically focus on maintaining adequate fat intake while emphasizing carbohydrate to fuel performance and protein to build and repair LBM. However, there is evidence that dietary fat influences anabolic hormone concentrations which may be of interest to bodybuilders attempting to maintain LBM while dieting [ 5 , 26 , 51 , 52 ].

However, distinguishing the effects of reducing total dietary fat on hormonal levels from changes in caloric intake and percentages of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in the diet is difficult [ 51 , 52 , 55 ]. In a study by Volek et al. In a similar study of resistance trained males, correlations were found between testosterone, protein, fat and saturated fat which lead the researchers to conclude that diets too low in fat or too high in protein might impair the hormonal response to training [ 52 ].

Competing bodybuilders must make an obligatory caloric reduction. If a reduction in fat is utilized, it may be possible to attenuate a drop in testosterone by maintaining adequate consumption of saturated fat [ 5 ]. However, a drop in testosterone does not equate to a reduction in LBM.

In direct studies of resistance trained athletes undergoing calorically restricted high protein diets, low fat interventions that maintain carbohydrate levels [ 13 , 29 ] appear to be more effective at preventing LBM loses than lower carbohydrate, higher fat approaches [ 32 , 40 ]. These results might indicate that attempting to maintain resistance training performance with higher carbohydrate intakes is more effective for LBM retention than attempting to maintain testosterone levels with higher fat intakes.

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Body composition and caloric restriction may play greater roles in influencing testosterone levels that fat intake. During starvation, a reduction in testosterone occurs in normal weight, but not obese, males [ 56 ]. In addition, rate of weight loss may influence testosterone levels. Additionally, an initial drop in testosterone occurred in the first six weeks of contest preparation in a group of drug free bodybuilders despite various macronutrient percentages [ 6 ].

Finally, in a one year case study of a natural competitive bodybuilder, testosterone levels fell to one fourth their baseline values three months into the six month preparation period.

Levels then fully recovered three months into the six month recovery period. Thus, the collective data indicates that when extremely lean body compositions are attained through extended, relatively aggressive dieting, the caloric deficit and loss of body fat itself may have a greater impact on testosterone than the percentage of calories coming from dietary fat. While dieting, low carbohydrate diets may degrade performance [ 32 ] and lead to lowered insulin and IGF-1 which appear to be more closely correlated to LBM preservation than testosterone [ 6 ].

Some bodybuilders do use very-low carbohydrate, "ketogenic diets" for contest preparation [ 60 , 61 ]. While these diets have not been sufficiently studied in bodybuilders, some study of ketogenic diets has occurred in resistance trained populations. However, it is difficult to draw conclusions due to the very short term nature of this study and due to an ad libitum implementation of the ketogenic diet.

Thus, it is unclear whether the improvements in body composition and performance can be attributed to the low-carbohydrate and high-fat nature of the diets or rather a decrease in calories and an increase in protein.

At least with regards to weight loss, previous research indicates that the often concomitant increase in protein observed in very low carbohydrate diets may actually be the key to their success [ 63 ]. Therefore, more study is needed in resistance trained populations and bodybuilders before definitive recommendations can be made to support ketogenic diets. However, the research that does exist challenges traditional views on carbohydrate and anaerobic performance.

Despite the common belief that carbohydrate is the sole fuel source for weight training, intramuscular triglyceride is used during short term heavy resistance training [ 65 ] and likely becomes an increasingly viable fuel source for those adapted to high-fat low-carbohydrate diets.

While some might suggest that this implies a ketogenic diet could be a viable option for contest preparation, a trend of decreased performance and impaired maintenance of FFM is associated with lower carbohydrate intakes in the majority of studies included in this review.

While it is our contention that the majority of the evidence indicates that very-low carbohydrate diets should be avoided for contest preparation at least until more research is performed , it must be noted that there is a high degree of variability in the way that individuals respond to diets. Carbohydrate and fat utilization as a percentage of energy expenditure at rest and various intensities has as much as a four-fold difference between individual athletes; which is influenced by muscle fiber-composition, diet, age, training, glycogen levels and genetics [ 66 ].

Additionally, individuals that are more insulin sensitive may lose more weight with higher-carbohydrate low-fat diets while those more insulin resistant may lose more weight with lower-carbohydrate higher-fat diets [ 67 ]. However, there is no evidence of any relationships with bone structure or regional subcutaneous fat distribution with any response to specific macronutrient ratios in bodybuilders or athletic populations.

Bodybuilders, like others athletes, most likely operate best on balanced macronutrient intakes tailored to the energy demands of their sport [ 68 ].

In conclusion, while the majority of competitors will respond best to the fat and carbohydrate guidelines we propose, the occasional competitor will undoubtedly respond better to a diet that falls outside of these suggested ranges. Careful monitoring over the course of a competitive career is required to determine the optimal macronutrient ratio for pre-contest dieting. After caloric intake is established based on the time frame before competition [ 69 ], body composition of the athlete [ 14 , 15 , 34 ], and keeping the deficit modest to avoid LBM losses [ 13 , 16 ], macronutrients can be determined within this caloric allotment.

If training performance degrades it may prove beneficial to decrease the percentage of calories from dietary fat within these ranges in favor of a greater proportion of carbohydrate.

Finally, while outside of the norm, some competitors may find that they respond better to diets that are higher in fat and lower in carbohydrate than recommended in this review. Therefore, monitoring of individual response over a competitive career is suggested. Traditional nutrient timing guidelines are typically based on the needs of endurance athletes. For example, it is common lore that post-exercise carbohydrate must elicit a substantial glycemic and insulinemic response in order to optimize recovery.

The origin of this recommendation can be traced back to , when Ivy et al. Glycogen storage was 2—3 times faster in the immediate condition during four hours post-exercise resulting in greater glycogen storage at four hours.

These findings initiated the faster-is-better post-exercise guideline for carbohydrate. Jentjens and Jeukendrup [ 71 ] suggest that a between-bout period of eight hours or less is grounds for maximally expediting glycogen resynthesis. Therefore, the urgency of glycogen resynthesis is almost an exclusive concern of endurance athletes with multiple glycogen-depleting events separated by only a few hours.

Bodybuilders in contest preparation may exceed a single training bout per day e. However, bodybuilders do not have the same performance objectives as multi-stage endurance competition, where the same muscle groups are trained to exhaustion in a repeated manner within the same day. Furthermore, resistance training bouts are typically not glycogen-depleting. However, there is a disparity between short- and long-term outcomes in studies examining the effect of nutrient timing on resistance training adaptations.

Additionally, Esmarck et al. In contrast, the majority of chronic studies have not supported the effectiveness of timing nutrients protein in particular closely around the training bout. Burk et al. Hoffman et al. Wycherley et al. No significant differences in weight loss, strength gain, or cardio metabolic risk factor reductions were seen. Most recently, Weisgarber et al. These studies examined the effect of additional nutrient content, rather than examining the effect of different temporal placement of nutrients relative to the training bout.

Thus, they cannot be considered true timing comparisons. Nevertheless, these studies have yielded inconsistent results. Willoughby et al. Hulmi et al. In contrast to the previous 2 studies, Verdijk et al. The authors attributed this lack of effect to an adequate total daily protein intake. Recently, a week trial by Erksine et al. Demonstrating the body's drive toward equilibrium, Deldicque et al. This result suggests that the body is capable of anabolic supercompensation despite the inherently catabolic nature of fasted resistance training.

These data, in addition to the previously discussed chronic studies, further support the idea that macronutrient totals by the end of the day may be more important than their temporal placement relative to the training bout. There are additional factors that might explain the lack of consistent effectiveness of nutrient timing in chronic studies.

Training status of the subjects could influence outcomes since novice trainees tend to respond similarly to a wider variety of stimuli. However, in subsequent research on older subjects, Yang et al. In addition to the paucity of studies using ample protein doses, there is a lack of investigation of protein-carbohydrate combinations. Nearly double the lean mass gains were seen in the proximally timed compared to the distally timed condition. Koopman et al. In the exceptional case of resistance training sessions that approach or exceed two hours of exhaustive, continuous work, it might be prudent to employ tactics that maximize endurance capacity while minimizing muscle damage.

Nutrient timing is an intriguing area of study that focuses on what might clinch the competitive edge. In terms of practical application to resistance training bouts of typical length, Aragon and Schoenfeld [ 99 ] recently suggested a protein dose corresponding with 0. However, for objectives relevant to bodybuilding, the current evidence indicates that the global macronutrient composition of the diet is likely the most important nutritional variable related to chronic training adaptations.

Previous optimal meal frequency studies have lacked structured resistance training protocols. Moreover, there are no studies that specifically examined meal frequency in bodybuilders, let alone during contest preparation conditions. Despite this limitation, the available research has consistently refuted the popular belief that a grazing pattern smaller, more frequent meals raises energy expenditure compared to a gorging pattern larger, less frequent meals.

Disparate feeding patterns ranging from two to seven meals per day have been compared in tightly controlled studies using metabolic chambers, and no significant differences in hour thermogenesis have been detected [ , ].

It should be noted that irregular feeding patterns across the week, as opposed to maintaining a stable daily frequency, has been shown to decrease post-prandial thermogenesis [ ] and adversely affect insulin sensitivity and blood lipid profile [ ].

However, relevance of the latter findings might be limited to sedentary populations, since regular exercise is well-established in its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and blood lipids.

Bodybuilders typically employ a higher meal frequency in an attempt to optimize fat loss and muscle preservation. However, the majority of chronic experimental studies have failed to show that different meal frequencies have different influences on bodyweight or body composition [ - ]. Of particular interest is the research examining the latter, since the preservation of muscle mass during fat loss is a paramount concern in the pre-contest phase.

A recent review by Varady [ ] examined 11 daily caloric restriction CR studies and 7 intermittent calorie restriction ICR studies. It was concluded that although both types have similar effects on total bodyweight reduction, ICR has thus far been more effective for retaining lean mass.

Along these lines, Stote et al. Curiously, the one meal per day group also showed a slight gain in lean mass, but this could have been due to the inherent error in BIA for body composition assessment.

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To-date, only two experimental studies have used trained, athletic subjects. Iwao et al. To illustrate the inadequacy of this dose, Mettler et al. The other experimental study using athletic subjects was by Benardot et al. A significant increase in anaerobic power and lean mass was seen in the snacking group, with no such improvements seen in the placebo group. However, it is not possible to determine if the superior results were the result of an increased meal frequency or increased caloric intake.

A relatively recent concept with potential application to meal frequency is that a certain minimum dose of leucine is required in order to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Norton and Wilson [ ] suggested that this threshold dose is approximately 0. A related concept is that MPS can diminish, or become 'refractory' if amino acids are held at a constant elevation. For the goal of maximizing the anabolic response, the potential application of these data would be to avoid spacing meals too closely together.

In relative agreement, a recent review by Phillips and Van Loon [ 28 ] recommends consuming one's daily protein requirement over the course of three to four isonitrogenous meals per day in order to maximize the acute anabolic response per meal, and thus the rate of muscle gain.

It is important to note that the leucine threshold and the refractory nature of MPS are not based on human feeding studies that measure concrete outcomes over the long-term. These ideas are largely based on mechanistic studies whose data was derived via steady intravenous infusion of amino acids [ , ]. Long-term studies are needed to determine if the refractory nature of MPS seen in acute infusion data would have any real impact on the gain or preservation of LBM at various meal frequencies.

Munster and Saris [ ] recently shed further light on what might be optimal in the context of pre-contest dieting. Lean, healthy subjects underwent hour periods in a respiration chamber. Interestingly, three meals per day resulted in higher protein oxidation and RMR, along with lower overall blood glucose concentrations than an isoenergetic diet composed of 14 meals per day. The lower glucose AUC observed in this study is in agreement with previous research by Holmstrup et al.

Another interesting finding by Munster and Saris [ ] was lower hunger and higher satiety ratings in the lower meal frequency condition. This finding concurred with previous work by Leidy et al. Interestingly, the higher meal frequency led to lower daily fullness ratings regardless of protein level. Meal frequency had no significant impact on ghrelin levels, regardless of protein intake.

Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation

However, Arciero et al. Other common meal frequencies i. Adechian et al. No significant changes were seen in body composition between conditions.

These outcomes challenge Phillips and Van Loon's recommendation for protein-rich meals throughout the day to be isonitrogenous Moore et al. A trend toward a small and moderate increase in net protein balance was seen in the four meal and eight meal conditions, respectively, compared to the two meal condition. Subsequent work by Areta et al. A limitation of both of the previous studies was the absence of other macronutrients aside from protein in whey consumed during the hour postexercise period.

This leaves open questions about how a real-world scenario with mixed meals might have altered the outcomes. The evidence collectively suggests that extreme lows or highs in meal frequency have the potential to threaten lean mass preservation and hunger control during bodybuilding contest preparation. However, the functional impact of differences in meal frequency at moderate ranges e. When preparing for a bodybuilding contest, a competitor primarily focuses on resistance training, nutrition, and cardiovascular training; however, supplements may be used to further augment preparation.

This section will discuss the scientific evidence behind several of the most commonly used supplements by bodybuilders. However, natural bodybuilding federations have extensive banned substance lists [ ]; therefore, banned substances will be omitted from this discussion.

It should be noted that there are considerably more supplements that are used by bodybuilders and sold on the market. However, an exhaustive review of all of the supplements commonly used by bodybuilders that often lack supporting data is beyond the scope of this paper. In addition, we have omitted discussion of protein supplements because they are predominantly used in the same way that whole food protein sources are used to reach macronutrient targets; however, interested readers are encouraged to reference the ISSN position stand on protein and exercise [ ].

Creatine monohydrate CM has been called the most ergogenic and safe supplement that is legally available [ ]. Supplementation of healthy adults has not resulted in any reported adverse effects or changes in liver or kidney function [ ].

Numerous studies have found significantly increased muscle size and strength when CM was added to a strength training program [ - ]. However, the loading phase may not be necessary. Recently, alternative forms of creatine, such as creatine ethyl ester CEE and Kre Alkalyn KA have been marketed as superior forms of creatine to CM; however, as of this time these claims have not been supported by scientific studies.

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Additionally, recent investigations have shown that 28—42 days of CEE or KA supplementation did not increase muscle creatine concentrations more than CM [ , ]. Thus, it appears that CM may be the most effective form of creatine. Beta-alanine BA is becoming an increasingly popular supplement among bodybuilders.

Once consumed, BA enters the circulation and is up-taken by skeletal muscle where it is used to synthesize carnosine, a pH buffer in muscle that is particularly important during anaerobic exercise such as sprinting or weightlifting [ ]. Indeed, consumption of 6. Additionally, the combination of BA and CM may increase performance of high intensity endurance exercise [ ] and has been shown to increase lean mass and decrease body fat percentage more than CM alone [ ].

However, not all studies have shown improvements in performance with BA supplementation [ , , ]. To clarify these discrepancies, Hobson et al. Although BA appears to improve exercise performance, the long-term safety of BA has only been partially explored.

Currently, the only known side effect of BA is unpleasant symptoms of parasthesia reported after consumption of large dosages; however, this can be minimized through consumption of smaller dosages throughout the day [ ]. While BA appears to be relatively safe in the short-term, the long-term safety is unknown. BA may increase exercise performance and increase lean mass in bodybuilders and currently appears to be safe; however, studies are needed to determine the long-term safety of BA consumption.

Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine that has been shown to decrease muscle protein catabolism and increase muscle protein synthesis [ , ]. The safety of HMB supplementation has been widely studied and no adverse effects on liver enzymes, kidney function, cholesterol, white blood cells, hemoglobin, or blood glucose have been observed [ - ].

Furthermore, two meta-analyses on HMB supplementation have concluded that HMB is safe and does not result in any major side effects [ , ]. HMB may actually decrease blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, especially in hypercholesterolemic individuals.

HMB is particularly effective in catabolic populations such as the elderly and patients with chronic disease [ ]. However, studies on the effectiveness of HMB in trained, non-calorically restricted populations have been mixed. Reasons for discrepancies in the results of HMB supplementation studies in healthy populations may be due to many factors including clustering of data in these meta-analysis to include many studies from similar groups, poorly designed, non-periodized training protocols, small sample sizes, and lack of specificity between training and testing conditions [ ].

However, as a whole HMB appears to be effective in a majority of studies with longer-duration, more intense, periodized training protocols and may be beneficial to bodybuilders, particularly during planned over-reaching phases of training [ ].

While the authors hypothesize that HMB may be effective in periods of increased catabolism, such as during contest preparation, the efficacy of HMB on maintenance of lean mass in dieting athletes has not been investigated in a long-term study.

Therefore, future studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of HMB during caloric restriction in healthy, lean, trained athletes. Stoppani et al. All changes were significant compared to the other groups. However, it should be noted that this data is only available as an abstract and has yet to undergo the rigors of peer-review.

Therefore, long-term studies are needed in humans to determine the effectiveness of this practice. In addition, studies are needed on the effectiveness of BCAA supplementation in individuals following a vegetarian diet in which consumption of high-quality proteins are low as this may be population that may benefit from BCAA consumption. Furthermore, the effects of BCAA ingestion between meals needs to be further investigated in a long-term human study.

However, there is little scientific evidence to back these claims. Fahs et al. Additionally, Tang et al. Moreover, arginine is a non essential amino acid and prior work has established that essential amino acids alone stimulate protein synthesis [ ]. Based on these findings, it appears that arginine does not significantly increase blood flow or enhance protein synthesis following exercise. The effects of arginine supplementation on performance are controversial.

Approximately one-half of acute and chronic studies on arginine and exercise performance have found significant benefits with arginine supplementation, while the other one-half has found no significant benefits [ ]. Moreover, Greer et al. Based on these results, the authors of a recent review concluded that arginine supplementation had little impact on exercise performance in healthy individuals [ ].

Citrulline malate CitM has recently become a popular supplement among bodybuilders; however, there has been little scientific research in healthy humans with this compound. CitM is hypothesized to improve performance through three mechanisms: Furthermore, Stoppani et al.

However, not all studies have supported ergogenic effects of CitM. Sureda et al. Hickner et al. Additionally, the long-term safety of CitM is unknown. Therefore, based on the current literature a decision on the efficacy of CitM cannot be made. Future studies are needed to conclusively determine if CitM is ergogenic and to determine its long term safety.

Glutamine is the most abundant non-essential amino acid in muscle and is commonly consumed as a nutritional supplement. Acutely, glutamine supplementation has not been shown to significantly improve exercise performance [ , ], improve buffering capacity [ ], help to maintain immune function or reduce muscle soreness after exercise [ ]. However, the role of glutamine in these changes is unclear.

Only one study [ ] has investigated the effects of glutamine supplementation alone in conjunction with a six week strength training program. No significant differences in muscle size, strength, or muscle protein degradation were observed between groups. Although the previous studies do not support the use of glutamine in bodybuilders during contest preparation, it should be noted that glutamine may be beneficial for gastrointestinal health and peptide uptake in stressed populations [ ]; therefore, it may be beneficial in dieting bodybuilders who represent a stressed population.

As a whole, the results of previous studies do not support use of glutamine as an ergogenic supplement; however, future studies are needed to determine the role of glutamine on gastrointestinal health and peptide transport in dieting bodybuilders.

Caffeine is perhaps the most common pre-workout stimulant consumed by bodybuilders. Numerous studies support the use of caffeine to improve performance during endurance training [ , ], sprinting [ , ], and strength training [ - ].

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However, not all studies support use of caffeine to improve performance in strength training [ , ]. Additionally, it appears that regular consumption of caffeine may result in a reduction of ergogenic effects [ ].

Several previous studies have observed deficiencies in intakes of micronutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron, in dieting bodybuilders [ 3 , 17 , 18 , , ].

However, it should be noted that these studies were all published nearly 2 decades ago and that micronutrient deficiencies likely occurred due to elimination of foods or food groups and monotony of food selection [ 3 , ]. Therefore, future studies are needed to determine if these deficiencies would present while eating a variety of foods and using the contest preparation approach described herein.

Although the current prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in competitive bodybuilders is unknown, based on the previous literature, a low-dose micronutrient supplement may be beneficial for natural bodybuilders during contest preparation; however, future studies are needed to verify this recommendation. In an attempt to enhance muscle size and definition by reducing extracellular water content, many bodybuilders engage in fluid, electrolyte, and carbohydrate manipulation in the final days and hours before competing [ 2 , 60 , ].

The effect of electrolyte manipulation and dehydration on visual appearance has not been studied, however it may be a dangerous practice [ ]. Furthermore, dehydration could plausibly degrade appearance considering that extracellular water is not only present in the subcutaneous layer. A significant amount is located in the vascular system. Thus, the common practice of "pumping up" to increase muscle size and definition by increasing blood flow to the muscle with light, repetitive weight lifting prior to stepping on stage [ ] could be compromised by dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.

Furthermore, dehydration reduces total body hydration. A large percentage of muscle tissue mass is water and dehydration results in decreases in muscle water content [ ] and therefore muscle size, which may negatively impact the appearance of muscularity.

In the final days before competing, bodybuilders commonly practice carbohydrate loading similar to endurance athletes in an attempt to raise muscle-glycogen levels and increase muscle size [ 4 , 18 , 60 , ]. In the only direct study of this practice, no significant quantitative change in muscle girth was found to occur [ ].

However, an isocaloric diet was used, with only a change in the percentage of carbohydrate contributing to the diet. If total calories had also been increased, greater levels of glycogen might have been stored which could have changed the outcome of this study.

Additionally, unlike the subjects in this study bodybuilders prior to carbohydrate loading have reduced glycogen levels from a long calorically restricted diet and it is possible in this state that carbohydrate loading might effect a visual change.

Furthermore, bodybuilding performance is measured subjectively, thus analysis of girth alone may not discern subtle visual changes which impact competitive success. Lastly, some bodybuilders alter the amount of carbohydrate loaded based on the visual outcome, increasing the amount if the desired visual change does not occur [ 60 ].

Thus, an analysis of a static carbohydrate load may not accurately represent the dynamic nature of actual carbohydrate loading practices.

In fact, in an observational study of competitive bodybuilders in the days before competition who loaded carbohydrates, subjects showed a 4. Although it is unknown if this was caused by increased muscle glycogen, it is unlikely it was due to muscle mass accrual since the final weeks of preparation are often marked by decreases not increases in LBM [ 6 ].

Future studies of this practice should include a qualitative analysis of visual changes and analyze the effects of concurrent increases in percentage of carbohydrates as well as total calories.

At this time it is unknown whether dehydration or electrolyte manipulation improves physique appearance. What is known is that these practices are dangerous and have the potential to worsen it. It is unclear if carbohydrate loading has an impact on appearance and if so, how significant the effect is.

However, the recommended muscle-sparing practice by some researchers to increase the carbohydrate content of the diet in the final weeks of preparation [ 6 ] might achieve any proposed theoretical benefits of carbohydrate loading.

If carbohydrate loading is utilized, a trial run before competition once the competitor has reached or nearly reached competition leanness should be attempted to develop an individualized strategy.

However, a week spent on a trial run consuming increased carbohydrates and calories may slow fat loss, thus ample time in the diet would be required.

Competitive bodybuilding requires cyclical periods of weight gain and weight loss for competition. In a study by Anderson et al. One third to half reported anxiety, short tempers or anger when preparing for competition and most Competitive male bodybuilders exhibit high rates of weight and shape preoccupation, binge eating and bulimia nervosa. However, they exhibit less eating-related and general psychopathology compared to men already diagnosed with bulimia nervosa [ ].

Often they are more focused on muscle gain versus fat loss when compared to males with eating disorders [ ]. That being said, this may change during preparation for competition when body builders need to reduce body fat levels.

Muscle dysmorphia is higher in male competitive natural bodybuilders than in collegiate football players and non-competitive weight trainers for physique [ ].

However, the psychosocial profile of competitive bodybuilders is rather complex. Despite exhibiting greater risk for eating disturbances and a greater psychological investment in their physical appearance, they may have greater levels of physique satisfaction compared to non-competitive weight lifters and athletically active men [ ].

Also, male bodybuilders are not a body-image homogenous group when experience is taken into account. Novice bodybuilders show greater levels of dissatisfaction with their muscle size and greater tendencies towards unhealthy and obsessive behavior [ ].

Furthermore, the physical effects of semi-starvation in men can approximate the signs and symptoms of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa [ 11 ]. Thus, many of the psychosocial effects and behaviors seen in competitive bodybuilders may be at least partially the result of a prolonged diet and becoming very lean. When these factors are all considered it may indicate that at least in men, competitive bodybuilding drives certain psychosocial behaviors, in addition to those with prior existing behaviors being drawn to the sport.

However this may not be as much the case with female bodybuilders. All of these markers were significantly higher in bodybuilders than in non-competitors. Furthermore, it was found that menstrual dysfunction was more common among the bodybuilders. In agreement with this finding, Kleiner et al. Competitive bodybuilders are not alone in their risk and disposition towards behaviors that carry health concerns. Elite athletes in aesthetic and weight-class sports as a whole share these risks [ ].

In some sports, minimum body fat percentages can be established and minimum hydration levels for weighing in can be set. However, because bodybuilding performance is directly impacted by body fat percentage and not by weight per se, these regulatory changes to the sport are unlikely. Therefore, competitors and trainers should be aware of the potential psychosocial risks involved with competition.

Open and frequent communication on these topics should be practiced and competitors and trainers should be aware of the signs and symptoms of unhealthy behaviors. Early therapeutic intervention by specialists with experience in competitive bodybuilding and eating disorders should occur if disordered eating patterns or psychological distress occurs.

The primary limitation of this review is the lack of large-scale long-term studies on competitive natural bodybuilders. To circumvent this, long-term studies on skeletal muscle hypertrophy and body fat loss in athletic dieting human populations were preferentially selected. AAA wrote the sections on nutrient timing and meal frequency. PJF wrote the abstract, methods, limitations, and the section on dietary supplementation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. Published online May Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding author.

Eric R Helms: Received Aug 24; Accepted Apr This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract The popularity of natural bodybuilding is increasing; however, evidence-based recommendations for it are lacking.

Introduction The popularity of natural bodybuilding is increasing rapidly. Nutrition Calories and macronutrients Competitive bodybuilders traditionally follow two to four month diets in which calories are decreased and energy expenditure is increased to become as lean as possible [ 2 - 6 ]. Caloric intake for competition To create weight loss, more energy must be expended than consumed.

Determining macronutrient intake Protein Adequate protein consumption during contest preparation is required to support maintenance of LBM. Carbohydrate High carbohydrate diets are typically thought to be the athletic performance standard.

Fat The importance of carbohydrate and protein in sports nutrition is often emphasized over that of dietary fat. Ketogenic diets and individual variability Some bodybuilders do use very-low carbohydrate, "ketogenic diets" for contest preparation [ 60 , 61 ].

Macronutrient recommendations summary After caloric intake is established based on the time frame before competition [ 69 ], body composition of the athlete [ 14 , 15 , 34 ], and keeping the deficit modest to avoid LBM losses [ 13 , 16 ], macronutrients can be determined within this caloric allotment.

Table 1 Dietary recommendations for bodybuilding contest preparation. Open in a separate window. Nutrient timing Traditional nutrient timing guidelines are typically based on the needs of endurance athletes. Figure 1. Meal frequency Previous optimal meal frequency studies have lacked structured resistance training protocols.

Nutritional supplementation When preparing for a bodybuilding contest, a competitor primarily focuses on resistance training, nutrition, and cardiovascular training; however, supplements may be used to further augment preparation.

Creatine Creatine monohydrate CM has been called the most ergogenic and safe supplement that is legally available [ ]. Beta-alanine Beta-alanine BA is becoming an increasingly popular supplement among bodybuilders. HMB Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine that has been shown to decrease muscle protein catabolism and increase muscle protein synthesis [ , ].

Citrulline malate Citrulline malate CitM has recently become a popular supplement among bodybuilders; however, there has been little scientific research in healthy humans with this compound. Glutamine Glutamine is the most abundant non-essential amino acid in muscle and is commonly consumed as a nutritional supplement. Caffeine Caffeine is perhaps the most common pre-workout stimulant consumed by bodybuilders. Micronutrients Several previous studies have observed deficiencies in intakes of micronutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron, in dieting bodybuilders [ 3 , 17 , 18 , , ].

Peak week In an attempt to enhance muscle size and definition by reducing extracellular water content, many bodybuilders engage in fluid, electrolyte, and carbohydrate manipulation in the final days and hours before competing [ 2 , 60 , ]. Psychosocial issues Competitive bodybuilding requires cyclical periods of weight gain and weight loss for competition. Limitations The primary limitation of this review is the lack of large-scale long-term studies on competitive natural bodybuilders.

Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. A comparison of methods to quantify the in-season training load of professional soccer players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. Metabolic profiles, diet, and health practices of championship male and female bodybuilders.

J Am Diet Assoc. Food selection patterns of bodybuilders. Int J Sport Nutr. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Med. Anabolic and catabolic hormones and energy balance of the male bodybuilders during the preparation for the competition. J Strength Cond Res. What is the required energy deficit per unit weight loss? Int J Obes. Biology's response to dieting: Weight loss, weight maintenance, and adaptive thermogenesis.

Am J Clin Nutr. Metabolic slowing with massive weight loss despite preservation of fat-free mass. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.

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Are you sure you want to Yes No. Be the first to like this. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. If you are ready to build a competition-worthy body or just want to look like a pro, there is no better program than the total-body diet and workout plan revealed in Men's Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible.

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