Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation

Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation

Macronutrients, and diet diversity

The mean macronutrient and energy intakes reported as g/kg BW and kcal/kg BW at the start and end of contest preparation are presented in Table 

2

. Macronutrient and energy intakes presented as medians and interquartile ranges, are provided as an additional file (see Additional file 

2

). Analysis of log-transformed energy and nutrient intake adjusted for bodyweight indicated no significant difference in protein, carbohydrate, fat and energy intakes between placed and DNP competitors. Amongst both male and female competitors there was a significant decrease in energy intake over time (Male

P

 

P

 = 0.01), while there was also a non-significant decrease in carbohydrate intake over time amongst male competitors (

P

 = 0.054). Results of the Cohen’s

d

adjusted effect size testing for macronutrient and energy intake scaled to bodyweight indicated a small to medium effect on competitive outcome for g/kg BW protein, in male competitors who placed compared to DNP (

d

 = start 0.49, 95% CI [− 0.25, 1.30], end 0.60, 95% CI [− 0.15, 1.37]). A similar outcome was noted for carbohydrate intake between males who placed and DNP (

d

 = start 1.02, 95% CI [0.22, 1.80], end 0.35, [− 0.40, 1.10]). Small effect sizes were noted for both fat as g/kg BW (

d

 = start 0.24, 95% CI [− 0.97, 0.52], end 0.25, 95% CI [− 0.50, 1.0]) and energy as kcal/kg BW (

d

 = start 0.71, 95% CI [− 0.04, 1.47], end 0.65, 95% CI [− 0.09, 1.41]) between males who placed and DNP.

Table 2

Macronutrient (g/kg bw) and energy intake (kcal/kg bw) of competitive bodybuilders during contest preparation: mean daily intake with standard deviations

Protein

Start

3.0

1.0

2.7

0.6

2.8

0.8

2.7

0.6

2.7

0.5

2.7

0.5

End

3.3

0.9

2.7

0.8

3.0

0.8

2.8

1.0

2.9

0.6

2.8

0.8

Carbohydrate

Start

5.1

1.9

3.7

0.9

4.4

1.4

3.7

2.2

4.0

0.9

3.9

1.6

End

4.6

2.2

3.6

2.7

4.1

2.4

3.5

1.6

3.0

1.5

3.3

1.5

Fat

Start

0.8

0.3

0.9

0.6

0.8

0.4

0.7

0.3

0.9

0.4

0.8

0.4

End

0.6

0.3

0.6

0.3

0.8

0.8

0.5

0.1

0.7

0.4

0.6

0.3

Energy

Start

38.2

11.1

32.6

7.5

35.4

4.5

30.9

7.4

33.8

6.3

32.5

6.7

End

35.8

8.6

29.7

10.1

32.7

5.5

29.3

3.9

29.7

7.6

29.5

10.8

Mean macronutrient and energy intakes reported as total g per day and kcal per day for the start, middle and end of contest preparation are presented in Table 

3

. Total carbohydrate, fat and energy intakes significantly declined over time (

P

 

P

 = 0.09) amongst male competitors. The mean number of food items consumed by male competitors was: start 11.5 ± 3.6, middle 9.7 ± 4.7, and end 10.0 ± 3.5. Amongst female competitors the mean number of food items consumed was: start 12.3 ± 3.4, middle 13.2 ± 4.0, and end 10.6 ± 3.9. The contribution of different food groups to the competitors’ diets is presented in Table 

4

. No competitor reported consuming composite diet dishes, food imitates (meat and dairy alternatives), sugar sweetened beverages or alcohol at any time point during their preparation.

Table 3

Total macronutrient intake of competitive bodybuilders during contest preparation: mean daily intake with standard deviations

Male

 Protein (total g per day)

Start

254.0

92.7

232.3

52.3

242.4

73.4

     

Middle

252.9

76.4

231.2

52.2

240.9

63.9

0.09

0.20

0.73

End

243.7

64.2

205.2

54.4

222.4

61.1

     

 Carbohydrate (total g per day)

Start

431.1

165.1

323.6

78.9

373.8

135.7

     

Middle

392.8

142.5

288.0

106.5

335.0

132.6

0.01

0.14

0.51

End

340.6

156.5

268.6

185.0

300.8

173.7

     

 Fat (total g per day)

Start

64.7

26.0

75.8

48.7

70.6

39.5

     

Middle

61.7

21.7

69.4

48.6

65.9

38.5

0.01

0.57

0.57

End

45.4

20.3

44.8

23.9

45.1

22.0

     

Energy (total kcal per day)

Start

3214.8

1023.4

2824.6

587.5

3006.7

829.0

     

Middle

3039.5

796.6

2629.9

575.6

2813.5

701.7

0.01

0.20

0.83

End

2660.6

571.3

2231.0

659.9

2423.6

648.4

     

Female

 Protein (total g per day)

Start

172.0

28.3

177.1

22.5

174.7

24.6

     

Middle

168.3

34.1

166.3

24.7

167.2

28.4

0.93

0.63

0.56

End

150.9

44.1

166.8

29.3

159.3

36.5

     

 Carbohydrate (total g per day)

Start

243.7

155.5

274.0

66.0

259.9

113.1

     

Middle

220.9

126.3

226.0

72.1

223.6

97.1

0.01

0.90

0.54

End

196.7

99.2

179.0

84.0

187.3

88.5

     

 Fat (total g per day)

Start

44.3

18.8

59.2

28.0

52.3

24.5

     

Middle

44.1

19.2

52.7

19.7

48.7

19.3

0.02

0.17

0.64

End

28.6

6.1

44.0

22.0

36.8

17.9

     

 Energy (total kcal per day)

Start

2000.8

551.7

2269.0

423.5

2143.8

489.2

     

Middle

1898.3

479.8

1986.7

405.1

1945.4

405.1

0.01

0.76

0.70

End

1598.9

256.8

1734.4

363.0

1671.1

363.0

     
Table 4

Percentage food group intake of competitive bodybuilders during contest preparation

Male

Start

17.7

0.4

15.2

11.3

9.5

10.0

0.0

9.1

3.9

1.3

7.4

5.2

4.3

2.6

0.9

0.0

0.9

Middle

17.6

0.0

11.9

11.4

11.4

9.3

0.0

9.3

3.6

0.0

7.3

5.7

8.3

2.1

0.5

0.0

1.0

End

15.3

0.5

14.7

15.3

10.5

6.8

0.0

9.5

2.1

0.0

8.4

6.3

7.4

2.1

0.5

0.0

0.0

Female

Start

22.0

2.5

13.6

16.1

10.2

6.8

0.0

8.5

3.4

0.0

5.9

3.4

5.9

0.9

0.0

0.9

0.0

Middle

18.9

1.9

11.3

15.1

8.5

9.4

0.0

5.7

2.8

0.0

9.4

6.6

8.5

0.9

0.0

0.9

0.0

End

19.8

1.9

13.2

13.2

12.3

6.6

0.0

9.4

0.9

0.0

5.7

6.6

8.5

0.9

0.0

0.9

0.0

Competitors frequently used supplements over the course of contest preparation; these data are presented in Table 

5

. The consumption of caffeine, fluids and number of meals a competitor consumed were compared between placed and DNP competitors. There was no statistically significant difference (t (25) = 0.51,

P

 = 0.62) in daily caffeine consumption between males who placed (360 ± 198 mg) and DNP (283 ± 153 mg). There was also no difference (t (13) = 0.80,

P

 = 0.44) in daily caffeine consumption between females who placed (277 ± 158 mg) and DNP (232 ± 173 mg). Mean daily caffeine consumption was 322 ± 176 (range 0 to 1384 mg) and 252 ± 161 (range 0 to 618 mg) mg per day for males and females respectively. Fluid intake for males who placed and DNP place was 4.5 ± 1.7 and 4.5 ± 1.6 l per day, with no difference between the groups (t (31) = 0.90,

P

 = 0.37). In females the fluid consumption was 4.4 ± 2.3 and 3.8 ± 1.1 l per day, with no significant difference between the two groups (t (14) = 0.61,

P

 = 0.55). Mean consumption of fluids for males and females was 4.5 ± 1.6 and 4.1 ± 1.7 l per day respectively.

Table 5

Supplement usage of competitive bodybuilders during contest preparation: mean daily intake with standard deviations

Mean number of supplements used

7.0

0.8

5.4

3.2

Protein powder (%)

75.0

11.8

88.9

15.7

Multivitamin (%)

53.3

28.3

60.0

14.1

BCAA supplement (%)

49.4

14.9

53.5

12.8

Creatine supplement (%)

48.3

2.4

50.8

9.0

Fat burners (%)

47.8

11.0

36.5

11.2

Individual amino (%)

42.2

3.1

31.0

3.3

Pre-workout (%)

42.2

3.1

19.9

12.4

Omega 3 (%)

39.4

0.8

46.6

12.8

Carb supplement (%)

36.7

4.7

0.0

0.0

Mineral or joint supplement (%)

27.2

0.8

31.0

3.3

Vitamin C (%)

23.9

5.5

28.5

22.6

Vitamin D (%)

21.1

1.6

11.1

15.7

Miscellaneous supplement (%)

42.8

5.5

5.6

7.8

The number of daily meals consumed by competitors was counted, there was a trend (χ2 (5) 2.40, P = 0.10) for males who placed to consume more meals per day than those who DNP, 6.5 ± 0.9 vs 5.9 ± 1.1 respectively. There was no significant difference (χ2 (2) 0.93, P = 0.23) in the number of meals consumed per day between females who placed and DNP, (6.1 ± 0.7 vs 6.7 ± 0.8). The mean number of meals consumed per day was 6.2 ± 1.0 and 6.4 ± 0.8 for male and females respectively. Of the 32 male competitors, 10 (31.2%) reported the consumption of “Cheat Meals”. “Cheat Meal” consumption was less common amongst placed competitors with only 3 (20.0%) stating they used “Cheat Meals”, while 7 (38.0%) of DNP competitors reported consuming a “Cheat Meal”. A single placed competitor (5.0%) reported utilising a refeed strategy. There was no difference in “Cheat Meal” consumption between males who placed and DNP (χ2 (2) 2.82, P = 0.28). Of the 16 female competitors, 8 (50.0%) consumed a “Cheat Meal” during contest preparation. Reports of “Cheat Meal” consumption were less frequent amongst competitors who placed, 1 (6.3%) compared to those who DNP, 3 (18.8%), while 1 placed (6.3%) competitor and 3 DNP (18.8%) competitors specified employing refeed strategies. However there was no significant difference between the groups (χ2 (2) 2.62, P = 0.19).