Since when did the word “diet” come to mean to establish a food regimen to try and lose weight? In reality, it is simply a word to describe food intake. Because for many of us, the need to lose weight is paramount, the usage of this word has shifted.
Long before Dr. Robert Atkins published his diet plan, there was “The Drinking Mans Diet” and “Calories Don’t Count,” both of which were books written by people who had discovered that it is protein, carbohydrates, fats and fibers that count, not the calories. Both publications laid out a plan of counting carbohydrates instead of calories, much like The Atkins Diet. The contention was that if you kept your daily intake of carbs to less than 40 grams per day, you would lose weight. When you reached your preferred weight, you could raise the carbohydrate count to 60 for maintenance.
It sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? Modern nutritionists point out that it is the kind of carbohydrates we eat that is equally important. We tend to view all carbs as equal, but that’s not the case.
There are simple carbohydrates like refined starches and sugars and then there are the high fiber complex carbohydrates as found in fresh fruits and vegetables. The first sort should be avoided totally and the second are very necessary for the proper functioning of our metabolism, our organs, and our glands . . . our overall body health.
Low carbohydrate diets have been proven effective in dealing with excess weight, or people wouldn’t still be using them. Our bodies will convert muscle tissue into energy when we are in a state of deprivation, before it burns away all our body fat. This is some indication that our bodies recognize the need for carbs in our diet. Carbs are our protection against starving, according to our Paleolithic metabolism, so the very last thing to waste away is that last bit of fat, long after most muscle tissue has disappeared.
Some of the weight loss experienced by low-carb dieters is muscle tissue, not the body fat they are trying to lose. The conclusion is that even a bodybuilder on a low carbohydrate diet will lose some muscle tissue as his body cries out for energy.
Competitive bodybuilders will utilize extreme low-carb diets for a few weeks before competition. Their intent is to eliminate that last bit of subcutaneous fat from under their skin. They limit the scope of their extreme diet to 12 weeks maximum, but usually to about four to six weeks. They know that if they stay on it any longer, they will begin to lose muscle density and size, everything they have worked for so hard.
One of the early proponents of the high-protein-low-carbohydrates diets was The Iron Guru, Vince Gironda. Vince trained many bodybuilding champions and was a contest winner himself in the 40s and 50s. He was renowned for his symmetry and muscularity, though he never weighed much more than 170 pounds in his life. Vince was also a master poser and knew how to show the muscular form in its best lights, highlighting the strengths and minimizing any weaknesses.
The Before-The-Contest-Diet that Gironda supplied his clients went like this:
- Eat high protein and zero (or as close as humanly possible) carbohydrates for four days.
- Every fifth day was a free day in which you could eat normally of a proper balance of proteins and carbohydrates.
- High protein and zero carbs for four days.
- Fifth day is free again.
- Keep on this cycle for approximately four to six weeks.
- Supplement your diet daily with:
- Lipotropic 3 compound (three essential amino acids)
- Kelp tables (vegetable protein and fiber)
- Cold pressed wheat germ oil
- No alcohol or caffeine during the diet period.
- Drink copious amounts of water to flush your system.
A number of modern takes on a competition diet are available on the internet. One of them that came from a major bodybuilding site is as follows:
This is probably the most difficult part of contest preparation. Working out is a one or two hour a day process, but dieting is for twenty-four hours a day. It is also more expensive than eating a normal, balanced diet. You are dealing with expensive supplements, expensive vitamins and expensive foods. You must also exercise a great deal of willpower . . . but isn’t that what bodybuilding is all about?
The goal of this diet is to lose the maximum amount of body fat as possible, all the while maintaining your lean muscle mass. You will lose some muscle tissue on this diet, the typical ratio being one pound of muscle lost to every three pounds of body fat. Proper supplementation will decrease this muscle loss.
The term of the diet is determined by individual needs. Those with more body fat may require eight to twelve weeks of dieting, or the low body fat physiques may require only four weeks. To enhance the fat loss, increase your cardio workouts in length, intensity and frequency. Perform your cardio on an empty stomach as it will cause your body to burn stored fat.
The author of this diet proposes that you eat six small meals per day with all complex carbohydrates consumed in the morning and early afternoon. After 2:00PM only protein should be eaten.
It is also recommended that up to two or more gallons of sodium free water be drunk daily.
The dietary allowance of carbohydrates is gleaned from eating yams, celery, carrots, and leafy green vegetables. No refined flour, no rice, no refined sugars of any kind. Sodium intake should be minimized.
Reduce the daily intake of carbohydrates each day in the week before the contest in an effort to “peak” just before the contest day.
The author further recommends taking potassium supplements four times daily, as well as five grams of L-Glutamine.
On the day before the contest, take in very small meals and cut your water intake to ½ gallon up until 6:00 PM, after which you only sip small quantities as needed for thirst.
Some competitors take raw honey or natural peanut butter for quick energy and muscle fullness.
The recommended supplements to be taken daily:
- Protein Powder – the type that is pure protein, no fillers, sugar or carbs.
- Meal Replacement Powders – high protein, blended with water or raw milk with (optional) bananas and natural peanut butter.
- Fat Burners – ECA Stack thermogenic product.
- L-Glutamine – to reduce the muscle deterioration from intense workouts and pre-contest dieting.
The origins of fitness and bodybuilding were originally to refine martial and athletic skills for the warrior class. Today, these skills are no longer applicable to modern life, so bodybuilding and fitness have become the goal for both sexes, not just the means for men to achieve martial dominance.
Sure, that ripped look when the shirt comes off is great, or how well a woman looks in a two-piece bathing suit or bikini. But that is only a small part of the reasons for male and female fitness. Personal performance is great, too, both athletic and the night life recreational variety. The health thing is also important; the absence of sickness, minimal aches and pains, bouncing out of the bed in the morning (well, rising easily, anyway) and never using sick-time at work. Then there’s the respect, admiration even, from friends of both sexes; the look of surprise when your buddy grabs your upper arm while making a point and pauses with a look of amazement when he feels the bulging hardness under his hand. Or when a woman’s friends comment enviously about how good she looks in shorts. Male and female fitness are all of these things and more.
Fitness affects attitudes. The fit person exudes the confidence that comes from feeling good about himself, a confidence that extends into everything they do. It is an attitude that is read by everyone they come into contact with and is often the difference between super-success or a marginal response in their personal and business relationships. It is a sad commentary on our society that a fit, healthy male or female body is the exception instead of the rule.
Fitness magazines extol the virtues of exercise programs and every one of them outlines programs to build bigger muscles on the men and trim, well-rounded figures on the women. The magazines are good and their articles are usually well written, but a beginner needs a lot of incentive and attention to their individual needs. A good fitness club with a competent staff is probably the best answer for a neophyte. Once a program has been set up and some results are being seen, the person on the path to fitness can adjust their program to suit their schedule and goals.
A typical fitness program will consist of strength and circuit training, cardio-vascular exercises and other athletic endeavors; running, sports walking, tennis and other sports. This activity doesn’t have to be extreme, but it should be enjoyable. A committed workout partner is also an aid. A fit person is a testimonial to the “sound mind in a sound body” principle.
Wellness and fitness are two sides of the same coin. If one is fit, one is well, generally speaking. For our prehistoric precursors, if they weren’t fit they were quickly processed by the digestive juices of some saber-toothed cat, cave lion or short-faced bear.
In modern life, wellness/fitness takes on a whole different meaning. Fit people work at staying in good physical condition; they eat nutritionally and live a healthy lifestyle. Their wellness/fitness means fewer illnesses, better mental attitudes, more satisfaction with their work, family and their spiritual lives. Wellness/fitness may not be the only reason for everything good in their lives, but it is a large part of the formula.
Wellness/Fitness is achieved by several means:
- Exercise – whether it be by pumping iron at the local health club, swimming at the Y, running or walking in the park, martial arts or aerobics classes, exercise is good for the entire body and mind.
- Diet – eating moderately of healthy, natural foods and drinks is very important to overall wellness fitness. “You are what you eat.” Was coined by a nutritionist of yore, so if you eat calorie-laden junk food or fast food, your body will respond in kind. Eating good proteins and carbohydrates, avoiding processed foods, sugars and refined starches will go a long way towards promoting wellness. Natural foods contain the vitamins and minerals that processing often removes. Sprouted grain breads are healthier than those baked using highly processed, bleached and nutrient free flours. Caffeine and alcohol intake should be minimized.
- Lifestyle – our lives are filled with the stress of careers, families, world affairs and catastrophic events. It is important to have healthy outlets for stress. Exercise and diet are part of the answer, but hobbies, athletic activity, spirituality, family and community involvement are other elements of the equation of wellness fitness. For some, an orderly uncluttered life is good, while for others, spontaneity is the name of the game.
Wealth and health are similar in that when you have them life is good. If you lose your wealth, you may at some point regain it by the application of smarts and hard work. Health, on the other hand, when lost may never be regained.
The desire for fitness often leads to a further commitment to oneself. Bodybuilding is the next step that many workout enthusiasts progress to. Bodybuilding, or body-shaping, is a natural progression from just getting fit, to developing your body to its ultimate limits. For men it is the muscular development of shoulders, chest, arm, back and legs, as well as six-pack abdominal muscles. For the women it is to trim all excess weight, define their chest, back, legs and arms and also have a six-pack.
There are many avenues to your fitness and bodybuilding goals and all of them will take you there. This e-book has outlined some of the approaches, both for us average people who want to be fit and for those with the desire to build their bodies to its potential. It is recommended that you research and consider all these approaches and then select the one that is most appropriate to your lifestyle and available time for the program.