“Bodybuilding is 80% diet.” This statement was uttered many years ago by one of the greatest bodybuilding trainers of his era, Vince Gironda.
With some fame as a bodybuilder himself, “The Iron Guru,” as he became known, was more famous for helping a newcomer to the USA, Arnold Schwartzenegger move rapidly up the road to become one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.
His acolytes list reads like a who’s who in bodybuilding of the 1950s through 1997.
Vince was convinced that a bodybuilding diet was the key to muscle-building success, and he was fundamental in convincing other people of this principle in his multi-decade career as a trainer of champions.
In a nutshell, a bodybuilding diet should focus on the best useable sources of protein, natural carbohydrates in the form of fresh vegetables and fruits, fats and oils, and finally, nuts. Bodybuilders also need to include supplements that help grow muscle tissue and reduce the subcutaneous fat on the body.
Renowned biologist, Bernard Beverley, stated that human tissue is 100% biological. What that means for bodybuilders is that eating foods that are very high in biological content is very important for developing that tissue as far as possible. Lots of people confuse foods high in biological content with foods high in protein, but this isn’t entirely the case as not all protein is the same. Biological content means food that contains protein of a structure that is very similar to the protein contained in human tissue.
This might come as a surprise to some, but the food with the highest biological content is the humble egg! Other foods high in biological content include raw milk, organ meats (heart, liver, kidneys and sweetbreads), steak, lamb, poultry and fish. Beans, legumes and some other vegetables are also good sources of protein, so it’s really important to include them in your diet as well.
On the other hand, soybeans, although famously high in protein, are only 22% biological. Thus you would have to eat huge amounts of soy to equal the amino acid content of the higher quality protein previously listed. For contest preparation, the Iron Guru recommended avoiding anabolic steroids in favor of eating as many as three dozen eggs per day!
The idea is that this gives your muscles a huge influx of biological protein so that they can reach new levels of strength and quickly repair any damage. After six to eight weeks, you should then reduce this amount to one or two per day, as you would have achieved your goal.
On the other hand, other bodybuilding diets focus on red meat and fresh vegetables, or one high in dairy products and fish. Each of these approaches serves a particular goal, that of loading the system with protein to replace and rebuild muscle tissue torn down by heavy workout sessions. They are not long-term diet plans however. Bodybuilding supplements that Gironda recommended were: Kelp tablets, desiccated liver, lipotropic amino acids(inositol, choline, methionine, betain that aid in the metabolism and assimilation of protein) and wheat germ oil. Another diet method the Iron Guru developed was putting his students on a special bodybuilding diet cycle in preparation for contests, to get rid of that last bit of subcutaneous fat.
This was composed of four days of zero carbohydrates, then on the fifth day eat normally. For the next four days eat zero carbs, and on the tenth day eat normally. The students would keep this up for between three and eight weeks, until every muscle separation and vein popped out on the surface.
In summary, a good bodybuilding diet should be focused on protein, fats, good carbohydrates and fiber. The breakdown should be 24% protein, 40% natural carbs (no refined starches or sugars) and the balance in fat and fiber.
Just before competition diets, and cycling of zero carbs for four days and the fifth day free, should be followed for no more than eight weeks. Appropriate supplements should be taken.