A good diet builds bodies up more than weights

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 14, 2003

When people turn on the &uot;Mr. or Mrs. Universe Bodybuilding Championships&uot; on ESPN or open the latest copy of Flex, Iron Man, or some other muscle-enlarging magazine, it’s easy to think, &uot;Wow, the people in this magazine must have spent hours in the gym, pumping their biceps, triceps, quads and abs!&uot;

That’s true. But did you know that weightlifting is only half the battle to become a championship bodybuilder?

Actually, says former Mr. Virginia David Welch, it’s not even half. &uot;A diet is 80 to 85 percent of a bodybuilder’s regimen,&uot; says Welch, a fitness trainer at Baer Fitness and Rehab Center in Carrollton. &uot;You can have the best workout routine in the world, but if you go home and eat (garbage), you’ll never have a change in your appearance.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

What a person should eat depends on the effect that they want weightlifting to have, continues Welch, who took the 2000 Mr. Virginia Bodybuild-ing competition and the 2002 National Physique Committee Men’s lightweight division competition in Virginia Beach in July. &uot;If a person wants to get their muscle mass up, they should eat a lot of protein and carbohydrates. A lot of people think they should feast on protein and stay away from carbs, but that’s not the case.

&uot;Anything that swims or flies is safe to eat!&uot; he jokes. &uot;Tuna, salmon, and especially swordfish are low in fat. Meat and chicken are good for protein.&uot;

The easiest way to stay on a diet is to stick to regularity. &uot;People need to figure out what they like to eat, and stay in the guidelines of a bodybuilder’s diet,&uot; says Welch, who always opens his day with a breakfast of shredded oatmeal and a dozen egg whites. &uot;Every three hours, people need to eat something with protein, like a shake, a bar, a chicken breast.&uot;

It’s okay to eat just before bedtime. &uot;Your body builds muscle at night, because that’s when it has a chance to recover from the day. It’s fine for your body to get one last shot of protein at nighttime.&uot;

It’s common to see advertisements for over-the-counter diet supplements. Welch says that some are usable. &uot;Anything without Ephedra is fine,&uot; he says. Ephedra is a stimulant commonly used in diet products. It has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, coma,

and other adverse side effects. Supplements that do not contain the ingredient include creatine and Metrim Free.

Then there are the foods that a bodybuilder must avoid. &uot;All fried foods should be avoided,&uot; Welch says. &uot;Chips, sweets, candies, and alcohol shouldn’t be taken. You also shouldn’t drink soda; if you have to have one, make sure it’s diet.&uot;