We’re sure that you often stumble upon the personal bulking diets of popular bodybuilders and you’ve probably tried following some of those already. After all, if it helped some pro with a gigantic, ripped body get to where he is right now, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work great for you too, right?
Wrong! As many guys who tried to copy the diet of their favorite jacked bodybuilder have eventually found out, that’s can be a very dangerous idea that can harm both your gains and health in the long term, while filling the pockets of celebrity bodybuilders who exploit their fan’s gullibility and ignorance. Read this article to find out why.
You are not a professional bodybuilder
Although you’re pretty aware of this already, it hasn’t stopped you from analyzing the diet plans of the pros, especially when you’re desperately trying to bulk. That’s ok, as long as you do it in order to discover the key points that make their eating patterns beneficial for muscle building and use them in an adequate way to improve your own diet. But if you copy them from A to Z in the hope of becoming like them as fast as possible, you clearly haven’t given the subject enough thought.
First of all, professional bodybuilders usually have genetic advantages that we regular mortals lack. And if you think that genetics don’t mean a lot as long as you train hard and heavy, think again. Sure, you can overcome some of your most prominent weaknesses with a lot of dedication and patience, but there will be a top limit to what you can achieve, which shouldn’t discourage you to sculpt the best version of yourself possible.
It’s just that these guys have always had an extra edge over others, and with the help of the right training and eating regime, they’ve built superior bodies. That being said, can your training program match the one of a professional bodybuilder? We believe the answer is no. A bodybuilder’s diet is closely tied to the demands of his/her training, so if you’re not training like a pro, why on earth would you be eating like one?
Then comes the final issue – the use of drugs. You can say whatever you want about natural bodybuilding, but we’re all aware about the truth about top-level competitors. And the truth is that most of them rely on anabolic steroids and a large variety of other drugs to add massive size to their bodies and lean out for competitions.
Their lives are a lot less than glamorous and fun – they go through a lot of physical pain and experience a plethora of mental side effects from their drug-fueled fight against the most basic human needs such as food and rest. To get where they are, the, almost everything in their regimes has to be blown out of proportion, compared to the regime of the average bodybuilder who hasn’t committed their entire life to bodybuilding, and this of course applies to their diets as well.
A pro bodybuilder’s diet makes sense only in the context of the entire package of a pro bodybuilder’s lifestyle – if you take only the diet and apply it to your own lifestyle, it’s more than certain that it won’t give you the same results.
In other words, if you follow the pro’s muscle gain diets, you will either:
a) get very fat
b) wreck your health
c) both of those
Why? It’s called anabolic resistance.
This is a term used to describe the impaired ability to build muscle caused by a long-term excess calorie consumption. How does this happen? It begins with developing insulin resistance, a pathological condition in which body cells lose their ability to respond normally to the hormone insulin, becoming unable to use it as effectively.
This leads to high blood sugar and an increased risk of developing diabetes. In the context of bodybuilding, insulin resistance increases the body’s tendency to store carbs as fat, rather than transporting them into muscle tissue in the form of glycogen. In addition, it causes the accumulation of triglycerides in muscles. The end result is metabolic wreckage that inevitably leads to a damaged ability to store glycogen in muscle tissue, reduced training performance and increased fat storage. In other words, your progress will come to a halt and you won’t be able to understand why.
Next comes leptin resistance – a condition in which your body loses its ability to respond to leptin. In this situation, your body is producing lots of leptin (a hormone responsible for managing hunger and fat storage) but your brain isn’t able to get the message because some crucial links in the system are missing.
This means that the fat cells will be sending leptin out to the hypothalamus as a signal that there is enough energy stored in the form of fat reserves and the body is nowhere near starving, but the receptors have been suppressed by the constant overeating and the body is no longer able to respond to the signal as it normally would. Because the brain doesn’t get the message, it still perceives starvation and keeps the production of hunger and fat storage hormones elevated.
Both of these conditions then make up anabolic resistance, reducing your ability to get a good pump, make strength and mass gains and lose the excess body fat, while at the same time causing inflammation and increasing the risk of metabolism-related health issues. You’ll be gaining fat like crazy, your joints will start aching and your gym efforts won’t produce the expected results.
How to fix this?
You need to understand the difference between the ‘right’ kind of caloric surplus, the one that fuels new muscle growth and strength gains, and the ‘wrong’ kind of caloric surplus, the one that constitutes chronic overeating and could induce a state of anabolic resistance because of constant nutrient overload.
When bulking, eating more calories than before is necessary, but there’s a limit to that. This limit is different for different people, and it’s up to you to design a balanced diet that can support the needs of your body and the needs of your bodybuilding progress but also minimize the risk of fat storage and metabolic disturbance. The ‘eat big to get big’ mentality is useful only to a point when it becomes downright dangerous to your health and makes you resistant to muscle growth.
The good news is that anabolic resistance can be reversed. This is done by reducing your caloric intake, especially carb consumption for at least a month. As desperate as you are to add mass to your frame, excess fat accumulation can harm your growth potential in the long run and even increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems, so fixing this issue is an imperative. And it can only be done by smart diet changes.
Optimize your nutrition by eliminating all processed and fast foods and focus on eating clean calories in an amount that’s just below maintenance. Stick through it for at least a couple of weeks and keep a close eye on your metabolic response.
In addition, always take the diet advices of the pros with a grain of salt. Never forget that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dieting and pretty much everything in life, so resist making their nutrition choices yours by default – instead, analyze them and adopt only what you truly believe will be useful for your goals by adjusting it properly to your training regime and all other important factors.
Try out different things and closely monitor the way your body responds to them – it will take you some time and extra work to figure out what’s best for you, but believe us, that’s the only way to grow as big and strong as possible without ruining your health along the way. If that’s what you want, of course.