Bodybuilders are known for their dedication, patience, and diligence.
This applies to not only their training, but their sleep and nutrition as well.
Bodybuilding diets focus on clean eating and ensuring an athlete gets enough protein, carbohydrate, and fat to support their training and physique goals.
As great as bodybuilding diets sound, they may not be for everyone.
Today, we discuss the major pros and cons of bodybuilding diets to help you decide if they’re right for you.
Let’s get started!
Bodybuilding Diet: Pros
#1 Builds Good Habits
Like all successful athletes, bodybuilders take a targeted and regimented approach to their training, recovery, and nutrition plan.
This diligent practice helps them to perform, recover and look their best when they hit the competition stage.
Extending to the rest of your life (beyond the gym), embracing the bodybuilding mindset and living the “bodybuilding” life can help you learn how to take a targeted and directed approach to all of your other goals, be they professional, financial, or personal.
And, to think, it all started by organizing a diet plan and sticking to it.
This is why we include customized nutrition plans for every individual who enters our transformation challenge.
#2 Master of Your Domain
One of the best things about engineering your own bodybuilding diet is that you aren’t a slave to those unsustainable, over-priced, and bland cookie cutter diets you see sold all over the internet.
When you track macros, you get to decide which foods you include in your diet.
You don’t have to worry about "hidden" calories, fat, or sugar.
You know exactly how many grams of protein, carbohydrate, and fat are in every meal.
Building your own bodybuilding diet also allows you to eat the foods you enjoy.
If you don’t like broccoli, then don’t eat it. Choose a vegetable that you do enjoy eating. There are so many wonderfully delicious foods available, you don’t have to pigeon-hole yourself into a select niche of foods.
#3 You Get to Eat Often
Meal frequency is a hallmark feature of traditional bodybuilding diets.
Eating every 3-4 hours ensures that bodybuilders are stimulating protein synthesis multiple times per day, which facilitates optimal recovery and muscle growth.
For individuals who don’t like to feel hungry or go long periods without food, a bodybuilding diet offers an appealing nutrition approach as it’s never too long before your next meal is up!
Bodybuilding Diet: Cons
#1 Eating Out is Challenging
One of the great things about bodybuilding diets is their heavy reliance on meal planning and preparing your own food.
As great as it is to know exactly what is in the food you’re eating, it also makes it a challenge to eat out at restaurants (at least to a certain degree).
You see, when someone else prepares your food (i.e. ordering food at a restaurant), you don’t really know how they are preparing the food -- how much salt or oil they’re adding.
A lot of restaurants (mostly big chain restaurants) these days post the calorie and macro contents of their food on their websites and/or on the menus inside the restaurants.
However, it’s important to realize that the calorie/macro listings from the restaurant are an approximation (at best). It’s widely known that restaurant calorie counts can vary widely from what is listed on the menu versus what is actually contained on the plate you get.
Therefore, if you’re adhering to a very strict bodybuilding diet, it may prove challenging to eat out.
#2 The Grind is Real
A diet is only as effective as your ability to stick to it.
For some individuals, tracking every macro and weighing every morsel of food they eat is simply too tedious and/or stressful to do day in and day out.
For others, having such meticulous control of the minutiae of their diet is welcomed.
This is why it’s important to find a diet that is enjoyable, sustainable, and aligns with your goals.
Forcing yourself to follow a diet filled with foods that are bland and/or non-satiating will undoubtedly result in you abandoning the diet.
Choose foods that you enjoy and prepare them in a way that is delicious, while keeping you within your calorie and macronutrient targets.
# 3 Lack of Variety
Bodybuilding diets of yesteryear were extremely boring, repetitive, and lacking in flavor.
You know what we’re talking about -- meal after meal of chicken (or tilapia), brown rice, and broccoli.
Having a diet that’s lacking in variety is a recipe for disaster as you’ll inevitably suffer from palate fatigue and want to find other foods that are more appetizing. Plus, consuming such a limited range of foods is bound to lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Fortunately, these days bodybuilding diets are a bit more comprehensive and diverse. Thanks to the emergence of IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and other nutrition research, bodybuilders (and other athletes) are realizing that you can eat a wide variety of foods and still hit your performance and physique goals.
This brings us back to what we said at the beginning of the article -- find foods you enjoy and learn how to prepare them in a tasty, craveable manner. When those foods stop being so delicious, swap them out for other foods that have similar calorie/macronutrient contents.
This helps offset palate fatigue and allows you to stick to your nutrition plan.
And, if you want some added insurance that you’re hitting all of your macronutrient and micronutrient goals, it never hurts to supplement each day with a Greens and Reds supplement as well as a premium-quality multivitamin, like our Men’s Multi-Go or Women’s Multi-Go.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to adopt a bodybuilding-esque diet is highly individualistic.
Are you someone who enjoys meticulously tracking your nutrition and knowing exactly what goes into the food you eat?
Are you a competitive physique or performance athlete?
If so, then a bodybuilding diet may be right for you.
However, if you’re just a casual gym rat and/or someone who doesn’t enjoy or can’t expend the mental reserves required to track every morsel of food that goes into your mouth, then a bodybuilding diet probably isn’t right for you.
If you’re not sure where you fall on the spectrum, why not try a bodybuilding-style diet for a month or two and see how your fare.
You might just be surprised at how many benefits embracing the bodybuilding mindset and lifestyle pays toward all aspects of your life, not just performance and physique goals.