Many people are curious about how bodybuilder nutrition is different from what is considered a healthy diet. It is an interesting question. Bodybuilders generally have a very specific method for eating that while similar to a healthy diet is also quite a bit different. Let’s look at both of them to compare and contrast those variations.
What is a Healthy Diet?
First, let us consider a healthy diet. For the sake of argument we will say that a healthy diet is comprised of a lot of natural foods, not processed. Lean red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts should make up the bulk of this type of diet.
This type of diet will be high in fiber, have a lot of natural vitamins and minerals, take advantage of many of the ‘super foods’, be low in fat, and avoid lots of sugary or processed foods. Carbohydrates, protein, and fats will be eaten in normal proportions. Generally speaking, people who eat in this manner should tend to have a decent level of lean muscle, lower body fat, and a good amount of energy to go with a healthy body; at least in comparison to the average diet many people employ.
Inside Bodybuilder Nutrition
Ideally a bodybuilder is drawing from all the same foods listed above for their diet. There might be differences for vegans or vegetarians, but for the sake of argument let us just say it is the same. On top of those things most bodybuilders will add in a lot of supplements such as whey and casein protein powder, amino acids, vitamins, and other components.
Other than the addition of supplements, the major difference between bodybuilder nutrition and a healthy diet is structure.
First of all, bodybuilders need to ingest a lot more total calories and protein to supply their body with energy and adequate building block for maintaining and building muscles. To do that there is an increase in meals consumed each day. Most bodybuilders eat 4-6 meals a day plus snacks. Contrast that with a normal healthy diet which might only be 3 meals plus a snack or two.
Next, the ratios of what you take in are a lot more defined. For example, a bodybuilder might be in-taking 30% protein, 55% carbohydrates, and 15% fat each day. Plus they might need to take in exactly 4500 calories because they are trying to add muscle. Those specific numbers mean that every meal needs to be broken down and calculated to make sure they know exactly what they are getting. Protein and fat content are especially important.
Unlike bodybuilder nutrition, a healthy diet is a bit more relaxed in portions and amounts. While there are general servings, there is not the same need to count and calculate everything as precisely.
Finally there is a bit less flexibility for a bodybuilder. If you are serious about making yourself look a particular way then you are not going to want or allow yourself to jump off track very often. However, if your goal is a healthy diet, adding in desert or a donut every now and again will not be the end of the world because most of the time your diet is so pristine.
The Bottom Line
While the blocks are basically the same in both nutrition styles, it is how you stack and arrange them. Bodybuilder nutrition needs to be so much more precise and measured because the result you are aiming for are so specific. A healthy diet is much easier to work with because the goal of being ‘healthy‘ is quite a bit broader. Of course following either one of them is better than not following one at all.