Eating clean is the absolute core of an effective bodybuilding regimen. All things in the bodybuilding lifestyle revolve around diet, exercise and rest.
Bodybuilding could easily be described as the strategic use of diet, exercise and rest for the sake of developing muscle mass and strength in the fastest and most sustainable way possible. However, there’s still the odd failures of potential that sabotage their hard work with pizzas, alcohol, junk food and other unhealthy pleasantries.
What’s worse than the damage to their body is the damage to their mind, as studies have shown a strong relationship between diet and mental performance. With that being said, it’s extremely simple to transition into a clean-eating regimen, but the transition can seem a little daunting. This guide is designed to help ease that transition.
Eating Clean (In a Nutshell)
Eating clean is an all-encompassing term used to describe a diet that does not produce many unhealthy byproducts that affect total health. While it’s typically used to describe a diet that reduces body fat, there’s is far more to be said about a clean environment within the body.
First and foremost, all health is the sum total of the function of organs in the body. The function of the organs is the sum total of the nutrients moved through the bloodstream, and the function of the bloodstream is the sum total of what’s consumed and processed by the body.
Food Has a Holistic Affect on the Body
In other words, food has a ripple affect through every single aspect of the body, and it is the center of our performance, physique, psychology and overall mood.
From this perspective, clean eating could simply be viewed as the process of removing foods that do not serve the body well and instead replacing them with foods that do.
A great example of this can be found in fruits and vegetables: Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been proven to increase total health and reduce the instances of diseases and illness. So when we talk about eating clean, we’re talking about moving our bodies to a position where we are in the best position to sustain ourselves in every aspect of life.
The physique is great to have, but the benefits that come with clean eating far outweigh aesthetic magnificence.
What To Eat and When to Eat It
The thing about eating clean is that there’s a thousand ways to do it properly. Some fitness experts will prefer a certain way of doing things, but evidence seems to say that there are plenty of ways to eat a clean diet.
For example, while bodybuilding is often stereotyped as being a high-protein world, the reality is that too much protein can be a bad thing, but too little can as well. Achieving the appropriate amount of protein is only one piece of the puzzle, and there’s lots of ways to reach protein needs.
Meat Based vs. Plant Based Diets
A great example of this can be found in the rift between meat-based diets and plant-based diets. There are some bodybuilders that insist meat is necessary for bodybuilding, but there are plenty of examples at this point of plant-based diets that produce excellent results.
This helps to elaborate that diets can be extremely flexible and still fall into the category of “clean.” There is plenty of scientific evidence to support that plant-based diets can be perfectly capable of supporting bodybuilding, and if something as big as an entire food category can be changed around, there’s lots of room to work with a diet to match your specific preferences and needs.
The most simple idea is to eat 30 to 60 minutes before or after your workouts. There are people that subscribe to both ideologies for different reasons: Some prefer to have the nutrients available ahead of the workout, while others prefer to give the nutrients to their body afterwards to avoid feeling bloated while exercising.
Where to Source Carbs From?
As for dietary choices, these should vary day-to-day, depending on your needs. Carbohydrates should ideally come from fruit, and the best thing that you can do is switch over from processed sweets to satisfy your sweet-tooth and focus on getting your sugars from the highest-quality fruit you can.
Vegetables should make up an integral part of your meals, and these should primarily consist of leafy greens. Additional vegetables will vary based on each individuals tastes, but greens are incredibly nutritious, provide a variety of essential amino acids and are typically quite high in vitamins and minerals.
Meat-based diets tend to have plenty of fats available without much effort, though plant-based diets are best supplemented with a few extra avocados or a handful of soaked nuts and seeds per day.
As for protein, meat-based diets tend to have plenty, where plant-based diets tend to need to dig into beans, lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds throughout the day to get a generally consistent amount of protein suitable for bodybuilding.
Meat is certainly more convenient in this sense, but plant-based protein in raw vegetables tends to be easier for the body to process overall. There is a trade-off for both forms of protein, so it’s up to the preferences of each individual to choose the diet that bests suits their tastes and lifestyle choices.
With all of that said, it’s important to remember that the goal of any bodybuilding diet is just to eat as healthy as possible. That might not be all that healthy in the beginning, but simply replacing processed junk and reaching for the healthier option is a step in the right direction.
The pyramids were built brick-by-brick, and a well-crafted physique is the same story; it is pointless to believe that you will have your dream body in a day. Walking to your destination is as simple as knowing where you’re going and putting one foot in front of the other.
You will eventually reach your destination, but those footsteps are a part of the journey.