The Benefits of a Low Carb Diet for Bodybuilding


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It is absolutely amazing what dedicated and motivated bodybuilders can do to transform their own body by simply changing the way they eat and exercise. Yes, if you are currently a bodybuilder or plan on being a bodybuilder, there certainly are some benefits to following a low carb diet and I will tell you why. With my years of experience as a bodybuilder, I want to share with you some of my deepest held secrets as to how I have achieved success as an amateur bodybuilder. If you would like to learn more, please continue to read on.

What are the benefits of a low carb diet and bodybuilding? There are a number of benefits of following a low carb diet for bodybuilders, including that it helps to cut body fat, obtain more muscle definition, and be more visually appealing overall. But, it is important to not restrict yourself of carbs entirely. Be sure to treat yourself after an intense workout because you deserve it.

Bodybuilding has come a long way. It has evolved over the years and has become a well-respected sport all over the world. If you are a body builder who enters competitions, then one of the most important goals that you have should be to look aesthetically appealing. What do I mean by this, you ask? Well, the look of your body is critical to winning the opinions of judges and consequently winning bodybuilding competitions. From every vain running through your body, to the definition of your muscles, to the darkness of your skin, the bodybuilding competition judges are all taking these points into consideration before they cast their final vote. So, in order to become defined and “cut” as some bodybuilders in the sport would call it, you absolutely have to limit your carb intake. There are so many reasons why this diet is so important.

Low Carb Diet and Bodybuilding

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Luckily for us, the whole point of a low carb diet is to restrict carbs. Unhelpful carbs, like pizza and French fries, for the most part result in you gaining unwanted weight. However, with a low carb diet you will not have to worry about these unhealthy foods. You will be focusing on veggies and various healthy sources of protein, so it is the perfect diet for the bodybuilder. But, this diet is especially important closer to competition time to ensure you are the leanest. Here are some excellent foods for bodybuilders wanting to follow a low carb diet to consider:

  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Lean red meats (e.g., lean beef, lean pork, etc.)
  • Fish (e.g., salmon, tilapia, tuna, etc.)
  • Veggies (e.g., cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, etc.)
  • Fruits (e.g., apples, oranges, pears, etc.)
  • Beans (e.g., chickpeas, lentils, etc.)
  • Nuts (e.g., almonds, peanuts, flaxseeds, etc.)

Moderate Carb Diets and Bodybuilding

Although low carb diets are great for losing weight and cutting body fat before a bodybuilding competition, moderate carb diets are actually the most beneficial for bodybuilders most of the time. It is important to not restrict yourself of carbs completely, as carbs are needed to maintain your muscle mass, which is the ultimate goal for us bodybuilders. The general rule of thumb is to not consume any less than 30 to 50 grams of carbs on a daily basis at the extreme level. However, on a moderate carb diet you can consume much more than 30 to 50 grams of carbs per day. For example, occasionally I have consumed between 175 to 200 grams of carbs a day to ensure that I have enough energy to still go “all in” on my workouts. But, you should feel free to adjust your daily carbs based on how intense your workouts are going to be. For example, on a day that you may be skipping your gym session, you can try to consume a lower amount of carbs to match this. On days that I plan on consuming more carbs, something that works for me is eating most of my carbs earlier on in the day. The reason for this is that it gives me sufficient time to burn off the energy it produces throughout my day. So, in the end, make sure to adjust your carb intake accordingly.

low carb gym

What is the science behind a low carb diet for bodybuilders? Although I am not a scientist by any means, I have done a lot of research on low carb diets and how carbs benefit me as a bodybuilder. Specifically, consuming less carbs actually lowers insulin levels in your body. This causes the body to burn stored fat to use for energy and this then leads to weight loss. Again, a low carb diet is most beneficial to us body builders when we are in the cutting phase of our journey to moulding our bodies to perfection.

If I want to indulge and have some of my favourite carbs, when is the best time to do so if I am a bodybuilder? Well, just because you are committed to bodybuilding, it does not necessarily mean you have to deprive yourself of all your favorite foods. As you may be aware, there are several alternatives to some of your favorite high-carb foods, like cauliflower pizza, but I’m going to leave that discussion for a future blog post. To answer this question though, the best time for a body builder to indulge in some of his or her favourite carbs is actually directly after a workout session for your post-workout meal. This is when your body needs it the most because your body is attempting to replenish your glycogen and repair your muscle proteins. So, please do not starve your body after an intense workout.

Overall, low carb diets can be beneficial for bodybuilders, especially if you are attempting to cut your overall body fat and become more defined. As you are probably already aware, aesthetics and muscle definition are critical for body builders, especially those who actively participate in bodybuilding competitions. However, simply following a low carb diet continuously may not be the absolute best option for bodybuilders. As mentioned, the body does require some carbs to produce energy. So, unless you are wanting to fall asleep on the shoulder press machine in your local gym, then it is essential that you consume the appropriate amount of carbs on a daily basis to ensure you not only get the most out of your workout sessions, but that you look and feel your best at all times. However, remember that just because you are dedicated to being a bodybuilder, you do not have to deprive yourself of your favourite high-carb foods. If you must have some carbs, the best time is to have them directly after a workout session. Be sure to make this a treat though and not the norm.

gym lady low carb

Readers, I have shared some of my thoughts on how low carb diets can be beneficial to body builders in this post. It would be great if you could all do the same. Let us know in the comments section below some of the benefits you have uncovered after following a low carb diet during your journey to bodybuilding. What are your secrets? 

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