If you want to get buffed and ripped, you absolutely must pay attention to what you eat. A plateful of around forty percent whole grains or good carbohydrates, 40 percent lean protein and 20 percent good fats with plenty of fresh produce should be what the doctor ordered.
However, it's not only a question of what you eat, it's also a question of how often you should eat.
Traditional bodybuilders dating back to the golden years of bodybuilding often stick to small and frequent meals. By frequent, it's roughly every two to three hours to maintain a high metabolic rate. Even recreational athletes often stick to this principle in order to lose fat and build lean muscle mass.
However, with the advent of intermittent fasting particularly the Leangains Guide of Martin Berkhan, bodybuilding and sports nutrition has taken on a different spin.
Let us look into what each particular eating plan offers and some potential drawbacks:
I. Frequent Eating / Snacking-as was mentioned previously, athletes (professional and recreational alike) need to fuel themselves in smaller portions throughout the day every two to three hours. This includes the three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) plus snacks in between and even before retiring.
a. Thermogenesis, or the production of heat by the body, increases by eating multiple meals daily (four or more). This allows for faster metabolism rates and more efficient processing of nutrients.
b. Frequent eating is also said to improve the body's use of protein and preserve lean muscle mass.
c. Another benefit is sharper mental performance because eating regular, timed meals will help you to think and process information more effectively, increase your attention span and boost your mood.
a. Eating many small meals and snacks is a time-consuming habit. Preparing healthy food requires time, not only to shop for them, but also to prepare them accordingly and appropriately.
b. This may also prove to be inconvenient. Forgetting to bring a protein bar, for instance, may lead you to buy a sugar-filled candy bar at the vending machine in some desolate area with no decent supermarket.
c. Slowing down to take in a meal of snack may slow your momentum at work.
II. Intermittent Fasting (The Leangains Guide)-the initial aim of Martin Berkhan in drawing up his Leangains Guide is to help people look great naked. His protocol involves two phases which are the 16-hour fasting phase and the eight-hour feeding phase. Three meals are eaten during the feeding period.
The composition of the meals would depend on the day. If it's a workout day, carbohydrates are prioritised before fat. On rest days, fat intake is higher. Protein remains fairly high on all days. The last meal of the day includes a slow-digesting protein source such as egg protein, cottage cheese or casein protein.
a. Intermittent fasting works well for certain people who enjoy eating bigger meals which gives them a fuller, satisfying feeling.
b. In contrast to small and frequent snacking, intermittent fasting is more convenient because of the reduced meal frequency. Its adherents, especially busy people who are always on the go, can enjoy the luxuries of reduced prep and cooking time whilst meeting their required daily caloric intake.
c. It is best for people who can go for long periods without eating. An example is Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
a. Intermittent fasting cannot fully offset the lethargic feeling some people experience before hitting the gym due to the 16-hour fast. There have been some reports of people cramping up with a bloated feeling upon waking up.
b. This may not be ideal for people who do not like to eat a lot of food during a short feeding window.
c. Whilst intermittent fasting may be more convenient due to reduced prep and cooking time, it may also present an inconvenience to people with unpredictable schedules. Some interruptions such as meetings and family emergencies may arise just when the eight-hour feeding phase begins, resulting in an even longer fasting phase.
In closing, the final word here is logical-follow the nutrition plan which works best for you. Each individual is unique. Always tailor fit any health habit to what suits your lifestyle best.