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#HardGainers: Nutrition & Supplementation for the Natural Bodybuilder

July 29, 2016 David McAuliff

In life, there’s always the easy way to do things, and the hard way. We can use an old fashioned broom and dustpan to clean our home (the hard way), or we can let our good robot friend Roomba do the vacuuming while we’re at work, which is the easy way. We can spend an hour on our back in the driveway changing our oil, or we can pay someone $15 to do it while we get our grocery shopping done. We can stop and ask strangers for directions, of we can ask our friend Siri (or whatever simulated voice resides in our particular smart phone) to just map out the path for us to take to arrive at our destination. Life presents us with plenty of ways to make things easier and easier each day. And usually, we’re very quick to jump on these opportunities to get things done faster and easier.

This isn’t always the way to go, however. Steroids provide a shortcut for strength & muscle athletes looking to reach their goals faster. Recovery time is dramatically reduced, as red blood cell counts increase. You grow bigger and stronger, even if you have fewer hours of sleep. Often, lifters can hit the same muscle group twice each week, delivering twice the number of muscle growth periods. Moreover, the body is able to use more of what you eat, even if you are not making the best food choices. Protein assimilation rates skyrocket when the athlete indulges in anabolic assistance. In other words, instead of your body being able to use 30 grams of protein per meal – you can suddenly make use of the amino acid richness of 40 to 50 grams of protein per meal.  Muscle growth, strength increases and fat loss go hand in hand with faster recovery, more intense workouts, and greater dietary protein usage.

Are steroids for everyone? Of course not. The risks associated with long-term steroid use are no secret. Increased risk of cancer and other prostate issues is prevalent, and liver health is always a concern. Acne, baldness, and increased frustration and aggression often go hand in hand with the superhuman strength you’re enjoying. Nothing in life is without its cost, and AAS assistance being added to your training is no exception. When you bridge off the “super supplements”, your gains go with it for the most part. This is why many athletes choose the preferable route of testosterone boosters as opposed to anabolic steroids – they get to keep their gains!

If you are going to take the ‘au natural’ route to muscle building success, you’ll need to pay special attention to the factors of nutrition and supplementation. Steroids deliver huge benefits in terms of recovery factors. Athletes can train longer and harder, eat garbage, barely sleep, and still show up in the gym the following day with greater gains and more training energy than their natural peers who measured their protein and carbs to the grams and got a good night’s sleep. Life isn’t always fair, but this the path you chose. The key is to make the best out of the situation you chose and let your nutrition and supplementation factors be the wisest choices you make – particularly when contest preparation time rolls around and you’re ready to diet down. This is the period when the non-assisted bodybuilder often loses much of his muscle mass and strength gains.  But you won’t let that happen to you – will you?

Are you ready to talk specifics? Your caloric intake will be the first major issue for you to address.Your body weight reduction should .5 to 1% of your total body weight each week in order to maintain muscle while losing the greatest possible amount of body fat. Let’s look at protein first. Your goal should be to consume 2.0 to 3.0 g/kg of body mass, per day, of protein. Another 15 to 30 percent of your calories should come from fat. You should be consuming 4 to 6 meals each day, with each meal delivering 0.5 g/kg of your bodyweight of protein before and after your daily training sessions. This will maximize the benefits you see in the realm of nutrition frequency and timing, which are both hugely important factors to the bodybuilder. Supplements such as creatine, beta-alanine and caffeine offer some of the greatest returns on gains for natural athletes. Water manipulation in the final days before a show can be dangerous prospects, so supplements should be limited if they deliver a dehydrating effect. The natural athlete needs to jump on every possible advantage when it comes to staying full and rounded, and being dehydrated helps with that!

We are all taking our own individual path, completing our own journey. We share the treadmills and bench presses with people whose goals are similar (greater muscle mass & strength while wearing less body fat), but the choices we make and the paths we take to arrive at these goals are always very different. Some people choose the chemical assisted way, whether it is with a back alley buddy or their trusted physician. Others choose to take the natural route. We salute those of you who are taking the muscle path without the added assistance of artificial testosterone. Be sure to stay patient and realize the gains you see are certainly of the more permanent variety. Remember that supplements can be your best friend when looking to boost T-levels naturally. Enjoy plenty of sleep, eat your meals wisely and by the clock, and above all, record your progress and continually evolve your goals to adapt to the changes you’re seeing with your physique each week. Good luck!



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