Dietary Strategies of Modern Bodybuilders During Different Phases of the Competitive Cycle

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Lenzi, JL, Teixeira, EL, de Jesus, G, Schoenfeld, BJ, and de Salles Painelli, V. Dietary strategies of modern bodybuilders during different phases of the competitive cycle. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—Bodybuilders have used a wide array of nutritional strategies over the years. However, most information on the topic is anecdotal, with limited research about the nutritional habits of modern bodybuilders, especially those from new categories. Accordingly, we sought to compare the dietary routines of bodybuilders from the Men's Physique category during “bulking” and “cutting” phases, while attempting to identify the rationale underpinning these practices. Sixteen experienced male bodybuilding competitors were interviewed during bulking (10–12 weeks before competition) and cutting (1 week before competition) phases, wherein we quantified energy and nutrient intake and determined their rationale and sources of education. Dietary analysis revealed a low carbohydrate intake during bulking, with a further decrease (at p < 0.05) during cutting. A similar decrease (at p < 0.05) from bulking to cutting was shown in the intake of most macronutrients and micronutrients, although intake of protein and almost all the micronutrients was well above the recommendation throughout the competitive cycle. Most of the consumed supplements can be deemed unnecessary or without scientific support. Most athletes reported self-managing their diet and supplement program, without the assistance of nutrition professionals. As such, some of their professed nutritional habits obtained during interviewers were not consistent with the food diary information. Although some dietary strategies used by bodybuilders in the Men's Physique category are consistent with evidence-based practice, most can be considered extreme and lack scientific support. The source of education may help to explain their decision-making.

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