Sodium is a great mineral that helps to regulate overall balance of vitamins and minerals present in your body. It is a very common misconception that sodium directly leads to bloating. Sodium should be controlled not cut out. Especially when you are low on carbs, as it is responsible for muscle fullness and strong muscle contractions. Being low on carbs stops your muscles drawing fluid into the muscles, and you need sodium to help you keep hydrated. Going too long without it eventually leads to dehydration. Sodium does make you hold water, but when you are training for a contest, doing cardio, tanning and posing, you are losing an enormous amount of sodium in your sweat and urine. This should be replaced through dietary sodium or you will experience cramping, weakness and low blood pressure. Sodium is only your enemy about 24-36 hours away from your show.
Fats are a great secondary energy source in addition to carbs. Healthy fats help regulate hormones (increased testosterone levels and increased growth hormone levels) and provide support to the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous system and decreased levels bodyfat. The key is to eat them in quantities that balance out the other macronutrients. Healthy fats should be obtained from various sources, such as salmon, fish oils, egg-yolks, olive oil and nuts.
Fruits are an excellent energy source in the offseason and provide nutrients you do not get in most foods. Besides the well-known benefits of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre, fruit has a unique benefit – it contains fructose and this simple carb replenishes liver glycogen. When your liver glycogen is maximised, so is your thyroid function. You always want to have your metabolism cranking in the off season so you are utilising all of the calories you take in. The best time to consume fruit is in the first meal (breakfast) and after training. These are the times when your body will absorb the carbs the best. The best fruits are bananas, apples, raisins, melons and pineapples.
Whether you cook each night or once per week, have all your meals ready in advance so you can pack a coolbox and head off for your daily journey. You must never miss meals, because you body needs a constant supply of nutrients to support recovery and growth. Generally, you need 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and for carbohydrates you should start between 2 and 2.5 grams, but over a period of time this can be increased to 4g, depending on your fat gain and how you respond to the increase in your calories. Also ensure you are drinking adequate amounts of water. Have these between meals, and not too much during as it can decrease hunger, causing you to eat less.
There is a reason why it is called junk. The calories are of the lowest quality and filled with fat and sugar. High-fat foods tend to blunt your appetite for hours and you stop eating on schedule and fail to keep a steady flow of aminos heading into your muscles. In order to maximise absorption for optimal mass gain, you need to eat smaller and more frequent meals of quality calories. Five thousand calories in one sitting does not equal 5,000 calories spread throughout the day.
Never eat too much junk food when trying to add muscle mass, because extra fat will be gained. Some junk foods is allowable once a week, but remember “You are what you eat”. So eat healthy, nutritious, low-fat bodybuilding foods.