According to Golden Era guru Vince Gironda, bodybuilding success is 85% nutrition, 15% everything else. Few successful physique athletes would argue with that ratio or one like it. All the hardcore training in the world can’t make up for a lousy diet.
You need to have a great whole-food meal plan and choose high-quality supplements, especially in connection to your training schedule. A good place to start is to get the basics and timing right. With that in mind, here are five guidelines of workout nutrition that you should be following.
#1: NEVER WEIGHT TRAIN ON EMPTY—EVEN DURING A CUTTING PHASE
Instead of skipping a meal and running on fumes, ingest some quality calories. Eat a nutritious snack, protein shake, or meal-replacement supplement before you hit the weights. This is true even if you’re going through a cutting phase.
A lot of people put themselves on very low-calorie diets when they get serious about losing weight. Unfortunately, this strategy is doomed to fail. Extreme calorie cutting reduces your metabolic rate. By reducing your metabolic rate, you make it more likely that you’ll increase your body weight and fat stores with normal eating patterns. We recommend the following guidelines:
- Make sure you have your share of macronutrients before and after training. See below for our guidelines on protein, carbs, and fats to make sure you’re not weight training on empty.
- When trying to lose weight, only reduce your calorie consumption about 10–15% below what you need for body-weight maintenance. Increase your calorie burning through anaerobic (weight training) and aerobic (walking, running, etc.) activities.
- Use supplements to help boost your training performance and results. A great preworkout and postworkout supplements can help solve your energy problems and increase your exercise power and endurance. Check out Vintage Blast, which is the world’s first two-stage preworkout supplement. For postworkout, try Vintage Build, which provides critical amino acids for muscle recovery and strength.
#2: DON’T EXERCISE ON LOW CARBS
Tired before your workout? That just won’t do. Energy is essential if you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. During a prolonged exercise, a steady source of carbohydrate is a must to fuel your brain. Carbs also provide a backup source of fuel for muscles as muscle glycogen is depleted.
Sugar used to be considered a bad food in almost any capacity. Sports science has proved that to be untrue in the right circumstances. Knowing the right type of carbs to consume before and after your workout is critical. Follow these general guidelines:
- Take in slow-burning carbs before your workout. Slow-digesting carbs include oatmeal, whole grains, and foods loaded with fiber (apples, cruciferous vegetables, etc.).
- Eat fast-burning carbs after your workout. After exercise, you need fast carbs to replace muscle glycogen. Fast carbs include glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin (those found in sports drinks), sports beans, gummies, and gels.
- Post-workout carbs help boost creatine’s effects. Carbs taken with creatine significantly increases retention of this important nutrient. Get creatine and other muscle-building activators with Vintage Build, the 3-in-1 essential muscle builder.
#3: INGEST ENOUGH PROTEIN
Studies demonstrate that active people don’t eat enough protein to optimize muscle endurance and recovery. Bodybuilders know better, but sometimes they don’t take in enough protein or ingest protein at the wrong times. Every ounce of muscle you possess will incrementally raise your metabolic rate around the clock. For every pound of muscle tissue you lose, your metabolic rate falls by about 5%. For protein intake, we recommend the following:
- Include protein with every meal, and a full serving around your workout. Protein has a higher thermic effect per calorie than other macronutrients. Consuming a diet that has plenty of protein will help burn more body fat and build muscle than a diet of equal calories that’s lower in protein. Take 1-1.25 g of protein per pound of lean bodyweight for your training needs.
- If you use a protein supplement, pick a fast-digesting one pre- and post-workout. Fast-digesting proteins will quickly get into your bloodstream. They can provide you with energy during your workout, help spare muscle glycogen, and allow you to go harder for longer. Good examples of fast-digesting carbs are: white rice, white bread, fruits, yams, sweet potatoes, pasta, and sports drinks.
#4: DON’T FEAR FAT
Healthy fats contribute to the feeling of fullness and helps stabilize blood sugar. The healthiest sources include monounsaturated fats from plant sources like nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados. Avoid bad fats. These include hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and saturated fats. Follow these guidelines:
- Replace processed snack foods with raw nuts, seeds, organic nut butters and dried fruit. Despite their being calorically dense, nuts do not appear to cause fat gain. In fact, frequent nut consumption has been linked to improvements in body composition and a decreased risk for weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Consume essential fats, particularly fish oils. Cutting-edge research has demonstrated an association between omega-3 essential fatty acids and increased muscle retention and fat burning. Omega-3s activate the PPAR alpha receptor, which frees up fat from existing fat cells to be burned for fuel. It also prevents further storage of other dietary fats in the fat cells.
- Get your omega-3s from supplements and food sources. These include flaxseed, walnut, salmon, and fish oils. Recommended doses: 2–3 g of omega-3 EFAs (EPA + DHA) per day. For flaxseed oil, a good starting point is 2 tablespoons a day of an oil rich in omega-3. You can find this potent and complete omega formula in Vintage Balance.
#5: STAY PROPERLY HYDRATED
Active individuals need to drink a minimum of 2–3 liters of water or water-based fluids every day. Proper hydration leads to enhanced thermoregulation and increased oxygen exchange in the lungs. The well-hydrated individual will have a more comfortable and productive workout.
Drinking more water every day can provide the following benefits: more radiant skin, increased energy, enhanced mental focus, and greater stamina. To stay properly hydrated, we recommend the following:
- Be well-hydrated before, during and after a workout. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for Hydration around exercise are as follows:
- Hydrate well in the 24 hours preceding exercise.
- Take in 400-600 ml of fluid 2 hours before training.
- Take in 150-350 ml of fluid every 15-20 minutes during training.
- Drink water before meals. A study is being presented at the 2010 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston found that drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals led to sustained weight loss. After doing do, subject ate between 75-90 fewer calories during meals.
- Don’t use thirst as an indicator. You’re already dehydrated if that’s the case. This is especially crucial when exercising in hot weather.
- For long exercise sessions, you may want to upgrade to a recovery drink. Choose a quality energy drink, or simply add a small amount of salt (half a teaspoon per liter) to your water.
Follow these tips, eat well, take your supplements, and hit the weights with dedication. The gains will come!
Did we get this right? Let us know what you do for your workout nutrition in the comments below!