The top 10 biggest nutritional mistakes in bodybuilding and fitness
Jerry Brainum breaks down the facts for the 10 most common nutritional mistakes in bodybuilding, fitness, and strength sports.
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Last week, Jerry Brainum did an entire episode of Straight Facts breaking down the biggest training mistakes people usually make in bodybuilding. This week, Brainum follows up on that topic but focusing on the nutrition side of bodybuilding. What are the biggest nutritional mistakes in bodybuilding and fitness? Jerry Brainum breaks it down – let’s jump into it.
Mistake #1: Eating too few calories
The most basic aspect of nutrition and dieting is understanding calories. We all have a resting metabolic rate – it’s the bare minimum of calories we burn just by living each day. In order to lose weight, fewer calories must be consumed within your resting metabolic rate.
It sounds simple. But you may actually be eating too few calories, impairing your ability to lose weight. This is why some bodybuilders and even regular people with new fitness goals end up plateauing on weight loss. If you eat too few calories, your body will go into “starvation mode”, which lowers your metabolism in order to save as much energy as possible during this “starving” state. So you don’t lose weight.
It’s frustrating – but the key here is to try not to lose weight too fast (another item on this list later) by cutting down on massive calories. Aim for one or two pounds a week. Give yourself a cheat day (as long as it’s not too forgiving). This helps keep your body out of starvation mode.
Mistake #2: Eating too many calories
This one is much simpler. Of course, if you eat too many calories per day or per week, you will slowly gain weight. This is ideal for bodybuilders looking to bulk up. But for those trying to lose weight, it can be frustrating to get stuck trying to lose points.
While most people know not to eat too many calories, that’s easier said than done. Generally, the biggest mistake here is that people are actually bad at counting calories. They underestimate what a cheat meal actually adds. Or they snack periodically throughout the day without realizing how many calories they are actually adding to their diet.
The result? An individual thinks he is eating 800 calories a day (for example) but is actually eating 1200 without knowing it.
Mistake #3: Trying to Lose Too Much Weight Too Fast
Trying to lose too much weight too quickly will lead to difficulty losing weight. Either because you fail to follow a hard diet, or because you accidentally push so hard that you start losing muscle instead of fat.
If you lose muscle, not only will you lose definition and physique, but you will also decrease your resting metabolic weight. This creates a slimy cycle where you now have to cut even more calories to lose weight. This can tip your diet between periods of weight loss and weight gain.
Ultimately, the human body can only really lose up to three pounds of fat per week. Nothing more is losing water or muscle weight. Don’t be fooled by your desire to lose weight by making the whole process more difficult.
Mistake #4: Avoiding Dietary Fats
This one is simple. Dietary fats are not the enemy. While it seems obvious that you should eliminate fat from your diet in order to avoid fat… that’s not exactly how it works. A zero-fat diet is actually worse for you than a healthy, balanced diet. This not only harms your overall health, but can also affect your bodybuilding goals to improve your physique.
Mistake #5: Eliminating fruits and vegetables from your diet
Some vitamins and nutrients can only be obtained from fruits and vegetables. So while it may be tempting to cut them out of your diet to save calories, it’s not the best option.
Missing out on these essential nutrients will not only make you less healthy, but also slower. It will be harder to be motivated to train hard in the gym or follow your diet. Not only that, but certain nutrients in fruits and vegetables can help suppress your hunger. This makes it easier to stay on point with the rest of your diet.
Plus, fruits and vegetables can be a great source of fiber, which brings us to…
Mistake #6: Not eating enough fiber
Fiber is basically food for your gut health. This is what makes your stool easier to pass. And beyond that, it helps keep your gut healthy. Although it may seem small, it would be foolish for a bodybuilder not to incorporate the right balance of fiber into their diet. Maintaining a healthy stomach and intestines helps your body function and consume the rest of your diet at its best.
Mistake #7: Eating too fast
The mind takes about 20 minutes to start recognizing that the food you eat fills you up. So if you eat too quickly, it’s common to accidentally overeat and suddenly feel extremely full 20 minutes later. We’ve all been there on big days like Thanksgiving at the very least. You suddenly regret every bite of food you swallowed and now feel like you’re about to explode.
This is an extreme example, but in general it’s important to eat slowly. It’s a small but powerful psychological tactic for eating less per meal. Ideal for those looking to lose weight or who generally overeat throwing off their physique.
Mistake #8: Not eating enough protein
It’s less of a problem in bodybuilding – but a warning for those focused on weight loss. When reconfiguring your diet to reduce calories, you can accidentally cut out too much protein from your diet. Less protein means less muscle growth. At worst, this type of protein cutting can lead to muscle shrinkage.
As we said before, the more your muscles are reduced, the lower your resting metabolic rate will be. This can then disrupt your whole diet as you keep trying to cut out more food.
On top of that, if you’re looking to lose weight and get shredded with a great physique, lacking protein is a basic but serious mistake.
Mistake #9: Eating too many carbs
On the other hand, eating too many carbs can be a big mistake for bodybuilders. Bodybuilders are sometimes advised to consume massive amounts of carbohydrates. It is claimed to help build muscle and is vital for serious bodybuilders.
However, carbohydrates are less important than glucose. This is the key element that bodybuilders need from carbohydrates. There are other methods to get it. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, can often make it harder to cut for shredding. So instead of turning to carbs, follow Jerry Brainum’s advice for alternative methods of getting glucose into the body.
Mistake #10: Not drinking enough water
Another simple but unfortunately too often overlooked. The average person drinks far less water than they need in any given day. While this isn’t great advice, it is advice that helps lay the foundation for all other bodybuilding and fitness tasks. Better hydration means better energy in the gym.
This means you’ll sleep better too. This means you will also recover more significantly. Recovery is key to building a physique. So make sure you are hydrated at all times.
Jerry Brainum breaks down these nutritional misconceptions and mistakes in more detail than we cover here. That’s why you should be sure to check out the latest episode of Straight Facts for the full breakdown. Be sure to stop by every Wednesday for new episodes!