Building big, impressive muscles is a complicated procedure.
Of course, a well-designed weightlifting program is vital. But, the truth is that lots of people zealously follow some pretty fantastic workouts and yet see no real progress toward their bodybuilding goals.
So what's the problem? Nutrition.
Why is your diet so important? How can you design your nutrition in a way that will complement your weightlifting routine and get you results you're looking for?
How Muscles Grow
To understand when diet is so vital, you need to understand how hypertrophy – or muscle growth – actually happens. Each time you work out, you cause tiny, microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. And those tears need to be fixed.
But, instead of just patching the problem, your brain plans ahead by making those muscles bigger, stronger and better prepared to deal with the next workout.
Here's the thing: you need materials to build. Even once you provide the stimulus, then, you need to make sure that you're taking in the right amount of nutrients to support that rebuilding work.
In the case of bodybuilding, this is even more important since you're looking for lots of noticeable growth.
Let's Talk Numbers
The average person, then, needs to eat enough to fuel their workouts. But that's only going to maintain your current weight. Bodybuilders, however, are focused on adding weight.
To accomplish this, you need to eat more than your body needs to survive. Generally, then recommendation for bodybuilding is to eat about 10 to 20 percent over your maintenance calories. But, it's not just about total calories.
Remember, you get calories from all three macronutrients – carbs, proteins and fats. But your body doesn't use each of those macros in the same way.
Carbohydrates and fats are primarily used for fuel, with the exact mix varying depending on your fitness level, your dietary style, genetics and the type of activity you're involved in.
As mentioned, though, your body needs the amino acids found in protein for all that building you're asking it to do. If you're trying to build a significant amount of muscle, you're going to want to take in about 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight.
What If You Don't Eat Enough?
But what happens if you aren't eating enough? Or aren't eating enough of the right things? As we've already discussed, weightlifting places demands on your system that require adequate nutrients.
If those nutrients are not present, lots of things can go wrong. At the very least, you aren't going to see the progress that you're after.
But you may also start to experience symptoms of overtraining syndrome, including a lack of progress and even a loss of muscle mass. Which is not what you want to happen.
But those outward signs are simply signals that something much more serious is happening. Because your muscles are now compromised, you could be at a much higher risk of suffering injury.
Bodybuilding – and weightlifting – require you to challenge your body in order to make progress. But, if you place this stress on your body and don't give it what it needs in order to respond appropriately, you aren't going to get the results you're after.