Dietary Intake of Competitive Bodybuilders
- 3.1k Downloads
Competitive bodybuilders are well known for extreme physique traits and extremes in diet and training manipulation to optimize lean mass and achieve a low body fat. Although many of the dietary dogmas in bodybuilding lack scientific scrutiny, a number, including timing and dosing of high biological value proteins across the day, have more recently been confirmed as effective by empirical research studies. A more comprehensive understanding of the dietary intakes of bodybuilders has the potential to uncover other dietary approaches, deserving of scientific investigation, with application to the wider sporting, and potential health contexts, where manipulation of physique traits is desired.
Our objective was to conduct a systematic review of dietary intake practices of competitive bodybuilders, evaluate the quality and currency of the existing literature, and identify research gaps to inform future studies.
A systematic search of electronic databases was conducted from the earliest record until March 2014. The search combined permutations of the terms ‘bodybuilding’, ‘dietary intake’, and ‘dietary supplement’. Included studies needed to report quantitative data (energy and macronutrients at a minimum) on habitual dietary intake of competitive bodybuilders.
The 18 manuscripts meeting eligibility criteria reported on 385 participants (n = 62 women). Most studies were published in the 1980–1990s, with three published in the past 5 years. Study methodological quality was evaluated as poor. Energy intake ranged from 10 to 24 MJ/day for men and from 4 to 14 MJ/day for women. Protein intake ranged from 1.9 to 4.3 g/kg for men and from 0.8 to 2.8 g/kg for women. Intake of carbohydrate and fat was <6 g/kg/day and below 30 % of energy, respectively. Carbohydrate intakes were below, and protein (in men) intakes were higher than, the current recommendations for strength athletes, with no consideration for exploration of macronutrient quality or distribution over the day. Energy intakes varied over different phases of preparation, typically being highest in the non-competition (>6 months from competition) or immediate post-competition period and lowest during competition preparation (≤6 months from competition) or competition week. The most commonly reported dietary supplements were protein powders/liquids and amino acids. The studies failed to provide details on rationale for different dietary intakes. The contribution of diet supplements was also often not reported. When supplements were reported, intakes of some micronutrients were excessive (~1000 % of US Recommended Dietary Allowance) and above the tolerable upper limit.
This review demonstrates that literature describing the dietary intake practices of competitive bodybuilders is dated and often of poor quality. Intake reporting required better specificity and details of the rationale underpinning the use. The review suggests that high-quality contemporary research is needed in this area, with the potential to uncover dietary strategies worthy of scientific exploration.
KeywordsDietary Supplement Resistance Training Lean Mass Anabolic Steroid Carbohydrate Intake
The authors would like to acknowledge funding support of Sports Dietitians Australia, which assisted in the preparation of this manuscript. The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the context of this review.
- 1.Heyward VH, Sandoval WM, Colville BC. Anthropometric, body composition and nutritional profiles of body builders during training. J Appl Sport Sci Res. 1989;3(2):22–9.Google Scholar
- 2.Newton LE, Hunter G, Bammon M, et al. Changes in psychological state and self-reported diet during various phases of training in competitive bodybuilders. J Strength Cond Res. 1993;7(3):153–8.Google Scholar
- 3.Sandoval WM, Heyward VH, Lyons TM. Comparison of body composition, exercise and nutritional profiles of female and male body builders at competition. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 1989;29(1):63–70.Google Scholar
- 7.History of bodybuilding; 2014. http://historyofbodybuilding.org. Accessed 05 March 2014.
- 9.Constantinescu R. Quantitative analysis and rank prediction for Mr. Olympia contest. Body Build Sci J. 2010;2(4):57.Google Scholar
- 10.Kennedy RH. Encyclopedia of bodybuilding: the complete A–Z book on muscle building. 21st century edn. Toronto: Robert Kennedy Publishing; 2008.Google Scholar
- 11.Dutton KR, Laura RS. Towards a history of bodybuilding. Sport Tradit. 1989;6(1):25–41.Google Scholar
- 12.Applegate EA, Grivetti LE. Search for the competitive edge: a history of dietary fads and supplements. J Nutr. 1997;127:8695–735.Google Scholar
- 15.Cho S, Lee H, Kim K. Physical characteristics and dietary patterns of strength athletes; bodybuilders, weight Lifters. Kor J Community Nutr. 2007;12(6):864–72.Google Scholar
- 21.INBA World Headquarters—History; 2014. http://www.naturalbodybuilding.com/pages/pages/history.php. Accessed 30 April 2014.
- 22.International Natural Bodybuilding Association. INBA—Results; 2014. https://www.inba.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=57. Accessed 30 April 2014.
- 23.Australian Government Department of Health. Australia;s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for adults (18–64 years). Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra; 2014. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#apaadult. Accessed 15 Jan 2014.
- 27.Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. Ann Intern Med. 2009;15(4):65–94.Google Scholar
- 28.Mann J, Truswell S. Essentials of human nutrition. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2007.Google Scholar
- 30.US Department of Agriculture. Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): estimated average requirements; 2011.http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/5_Summary%20Table%20Tables%201-4.pdf. Accessed 30 April 2014.
- 31.Downs S, Black N. The feasibility of creating a checklist for the assessment of the methodological quality both of randomised and non-randomised studies of health care Interventions. J Community Health. 1998;52:377–84.Google Scholar
- 32.Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Evidence analysis manual: steps in the academy evidence analysis process. Chicago: Acad Nutr Diet; 2012.Google Scholar
- 34.Giada F, Zuliani G, Baldo-Enzi G, et al. Lipoprotein profile, diet and body composition in athletes practicing mixed an anaerobic activities. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 1996;36(3):211–6.Google Scholar
- 42.Richardson N. Introduction to part 1: “What is the practice” of body building? In: Locks A, Richardson N, editors. Critical readings in bodybuilding. London: Routledge; 2013.Google Scholar
- 45.Beckham S, Earnest C. Metabolic cost of free weight circuit weight training. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 2000;40:118–25.Google Scholar
- 54.Phillips S. Defining optimum intakes for athletes in sports nutrition. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell Publishing; 2014. p. 136–46.Google Scholar
- 63.Atkins RC. Dr Atkins’ new diet revolution. New York: Harper Collins; 2009.Google Scholar
- 64.Cordain L. The Paleo diet: lose weight and get healthy by eating the foods you were designed to eat. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2010.Google Scholar
- 65.Macdougal JD, Ray S, Sale D. Muscle metabolism during intense, heavy-resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 1999;55:209–15.Google Scholar
- 66.Haff GG. The effect of carbohydrate supplementation on multiple sessions and bouts of resistance exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 1999;13(2):111–7.Google Scholar
- 67.Leveritt M, Abernathy PJ. Effects of carbohydrate restriction on strength performance. J Strength Cond Res. 1999;13(1):52–7.Google Scholar
- 72.Reports C. Alert: protein drinks; 2010. http://www.consumerreports.org. Accessed 27 Apr 2014
- 78.Carlsohn A, Scharhag-Rosenberger F, Schapp L. Validity of the determination of energy input from a dietary record in persons of normal weight - dependence on the level of energy input comparison between elite sportsmen with very high energy intake and a control group of persons of normal weight. Ernahrungs Umschau. 2012;59:572–7.Google Scholar
- 79.Rush E, Plank L, Laulu M. Accuracy of dietary energy reporting in young New Zealand men and women: relationships to body composition, physical activity level and ethnicity. Int J Body Compos Res. 2004;2:125–30.Google Scholar