When it comes to crafting out a lean, strong and muscular physique, diet is just as important as working out. And the Mediterranean Diet for bodybuilding could be a pivotal part of your success.
It doesn’t matter how many times you hit the gym, what your total weekly volume is, or how many times you reached muscle failure on leg day.
If the diet isn’t on point, your progress won’t be either.
Without a strategic eating plan that optimizes nutrient intake you just won’t take that figure to the next level.
Many top female bodybuilders use the Mediterranean diet. But what is it about this colorful, lean and healthy diet that helps to get you jacked and strips away excess body fat?
SpotMeGirl takes a look…
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
Walk into any bookstore and you’ll find what looks like a million diet books. Whether it’s the Paleo diet, Atkins, keto, zone or South Beach; American women love to try out different diets.
Very few work though.
The Mediterranean diet is different. It doesn’t rely on eliminating food groups or super hypo-calorie meals to strip away body fat. It isn’t about skipping meals or ditching carbs.
Instead, it focuses on simple and effective dietary changes to optimize health and give your body all of the building blocks it needs to build muscle and improve physical performance.
Originating in Mediterranean countries including Spain, Greece, and Portugal, the Mediterranean diet is based on foods that people from these countries would traditionally eat.
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts
- Flavoring foods with spices and salt
- Replacing butter with olive oil
- Limiting red meat and obtaining protein from leaner white meats and seafood
- Avoiding refined grains, sugary foods, added sweeteners and processed oils
Building the bulk of your diet around low-calorie, lean and nutritious foods isn’t a bad thing. And with so much variety, you won’t feel restricted or limited in which foods you’re ‘allowed’ to eat on the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding.
- Fruits – peaches, figs, melon, apples, bananas, grapes, pears, oranges, dates, tomatoes etc.
- Vegetables – root veg (carrots, beetroot), potatoes, brassica (broccoli, kale), onions, cucumber, scallions, mushrooms, spinach
- Nuts and seeds – pumpkin seeds, Macadamias, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds
- Legumes – beans, lentils, pulses, chickpeas/hummus
- Meat and seafood – chicken, duck, turkey, salmon, mackerel, tuna, shrimp, oysters, crab, mussels
- Grains – oats, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, whole grain bread
- Eggs and dairy – Greek yogurt, cheese, chicken/quail/duck eggs
Oh, and red wine too!
Here’s a special mention to the very thing that keeps us going some days…
You’ll also be pleased to know that as well as water and the occasional fruit juice; red wine is a part of the Mediterranean diet too.
Or it is if you want it to be anyway.
One glass of a good red per day is said to boost heart health, improve insulin sensitivity and promote overall wellness. It can even improve testosterone too, which is important if you’re following the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding benefits.
Red wine contains the active compound resveratrol.
And it’s this bioflavonoid that’s said to provide so many health benefits.
Unfortunately, more isn’t better though so make sure you keep it to just the one (moderate sized) glass ladies.
Using the Mediterranean Diet to Improve Health
Using the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding is a surefire way to elevate muscle mass, ditch excess flab and take your figure to center stage.
But more importantly, it’s a great way to improve health, longevity, and wellness. This makes it one of the most versatile, beneficial diets any health-conscious SpotMeGirl reader could wish for.
Here’s why the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding is also damn healthy…
The high-fiber, nutrient dense basis of the Mediterranean diet helps to reduce your risk of heart disease and other vascular illness.
A huge study of nearly 7,500 people in 2013 found that those following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts were 30% less likely to die from vascular events such a heart disease and neurological disease such as stroke.
In fact, the results of the study were so significant that the research became a landmark selling point for health benefits associated with the diet.
The Mediterranean diet lowers your risk of life-threatening vascular illness such as heart disease and stroke.
Promotes fat loss
The only way you’ll lose fat is by achieving a calorie deficit. It’s impossible by the laws of thermogenics to eat more than you burn off each day and use excess fat as fuel.
But if you eat less, the pounds will drip from your body.
The Mediterranean diet doesn’t provide some secret formula or biohack that melts fat. It’s simply that it’s easier to achieve an energy deficit while following it.
Foods such as vegetables, grains, and lean meats provide a lot of food bulk and nutrients in relatively little calories. This means you’ll feel fuller (both faster and for longer) with a lower energy intake – making that all-important deficit much easier to cruise into.
The Mediterranean diet is high in nutrients and low in calories, helping you achieve your energy for fat loss
Low in sugar and anti-inflammatory
Sugar in moderation isn’t bad for you. After all, carbohydrates are important for bodybuilding and performance sports as they give you the energy to compete and train hard.
But excess sugar can cause disorders such as diabetes, as regular sugar consumption elevates inflammation, reduces insulin sensitivity, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The Mediterranean diet provides nutrients that are anti-inflammatory due to its low sugar foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber.
There’s a clear link between the Mediterranean diet and lower levels of diabetes.
Promotes healthy aging
As a young go-getter and bodybuilder, you might not be too concerned about what’ll happen when you begin to age.
But one thing’s for sure – a Mediterranean diet adds life to your years and years to your life.
Not only is it significantly associated with off-setting cognitive decline and protecting you against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, it’s also correlated with longer lifespans and better functional aging too.
With such high levels of vitamins, mineral, and nutrients, the Mediterranean diet helps to keep your body functioning as well as it can, your muscles and bones strong, and protects against frailty and loss of fitness too.
The Mediterranean diet protects against neurodegenerative diseases and promotes healthy aging.
Enhances your mood
Living in a hot, sunny climate is sure to leave you with a smile on your face. But the second best way to show off that smile is to follow a diet high in Mediterranean diet foods.
One research study found that out of 6 different dietary patterns, the Mediterranean diet came out on top for decreasing symptoms of low mood and protecting against depression.
The authors of the project concluded their report with “consumption of a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern by mid-aged women may have a protective influence against the onset of depressive symptoms”.
The Mediterranean diet protects against symptoms of depression and low mood.
Using the Mediterranean Diet for Bodybuilding – Is It Any Good?
Following a healthy lifestyle means leading a happy and productive life.
It means having the energy to play with the kids, the motivation to do what you want to do, and the get-up-and-go to follow your dreams.
And while the Mediterranean Diet is popular because of its positive effects on health, it’s also really useful for bodybuilders wanting to optimize their physiques and look the best they can on stage.
Muscle building benefits
One of the greatest benefits of the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding is its ability to ramp up muscle building.
If you take actual gym training out of the equation, the key to developing lean tissue is to obtain sufficient protein in the diet.
Because the Mediterranean diet focuses on lots of lean meats, seafood, and beans, you’re guaranteed to reach your 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight threshold to maximize muscle growth.
A study based on active women in Europe found that those who ate sufficient protein were stronger, more powerful and also much leaner too.
Elevates testosterone levels
Okay, so before we move onto this particular benefit, don’t be alarmed by the word testosterone.
Gone are the days when scientists referred to testosterone as the ‘male’ hormone. In the right amounts, it benefits you as a health-conscious bodybuilder in multiple ways:
- Enhanced performance
- Reduced belly fat
- Stronger bones and better muscle growth
- Higher libido and increased chance of orgasm
- Better endurance, stamina, and fitness
- Reduced risk of depression, cognitive decline, stress and anxiety
Unless you’re taking steroids or have an underlying medical condition, optimizing testosterone levels in women doesn’t lead to a deep voice. a square jaw or a beard.
Bottom line – testosterone helps you carve out an athletic, lean and feminine figure.
High in vitamin D
Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Using the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding is a great idea as it optimizes vitamin D intake.
Why’s this important?
Well, with as many as 56% of competitive athletes being deficient in this important physical performance nutrient, chances are unless you live in a hot, sunny climate you just aren’t getting enough vitamin D.
The main source of your body’s vitamin D is sunlight. Without that, you’re either relying on foods that are high in the nutrient, or a premium vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D boosts testosterone levels, helping you build more muscle while keeping fat at bay.
But it also helps to reduce soreness from tough and regular strength workouts, enhances motivation and cognition, boosts your immune system (which takes a hammer during intense workout phases) and finally accelerates endurance and stamina.
Foods such as eggs, tuna, mackerel, cheese, and salmon are all high in vitamin D… and also part of the Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding.
Sample Mediterranean Diet for Bodybuilding
If you want to give yourself the best opportunity yet to develop a lean bodybuilder physique you need a bulletproof eating plan.
Based on an average but active woman, this Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding will give you the energy, nutrition and building blocks to build muscle and burn fat.
- Greek yogurt with granola, pumpkin seeds and a tablespoon of honey
- Apple and carrot slices with hummus and olive oil. 2 boiled eggs
- Chicken breast with mixed salad (spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives) feta cheese and baked potato
- A handful of berries (blueberries, strawberries) and nuts
- White fish cooked in olive oil, lemon, and dill. Wholewheat pasta cooked in tomato, herb and garlic sauce with grilled mixed root vegetables
Summary – Using the Mediterranean Diet for Bodybuilding and Health
Following a Mediterranean diet for bodybuilding that’s high in fruit, vegetables, lean meats and other nutritious foods is a clear winner.
As a hard-working athlete that needs to blast through workouts, build muscle, but watch those calories, the Mediterranean diet ticks all the boxes.
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