7 Foods Bodybuilders Gave Up—But Don’t Miss at All
Eliminating these items was worth the sacrifice for these muscular men and women.
The body of a professional bodybuilder is essentially a work of art. The dedication, time, and care put into sculpting their physique are evident by their numerous muscles, lack of body fat, and shredded definition. And it doesn’t only come from hours of lifting weights in the gym; their strict diets are a huge contributor to their success. So, we asked a group of inspiring bodybuilders about the foods they eliminated from their diets but no longer miss—and why giving it up changed their overall health for the better. Find out their answers below and then check out these 30 Six-Pack Secrets from the World’s Fittest Men!
“In getting lean, it is important to monitor and manipulate macronutrients—especially carbohydrates—and one of these is wheat. I found that after eliminating it, I was able to get a lot leaner, boost energy, increase focus, and generally feel much better for it. Eighty percent of people have some form of sensitivity to gluten—a protein found in wheat—and this was the case for me. Wheat can irritate the digestive system for many people, which could lead to digestive issues and leaky gut syndrome. Many processed foods also contain wheat, so taking wheat out the diet will often mean that you’ll naturally eat less processed foods, too.” —James White, bodybuilder, powerlifter, personal trainer, nutritionist and founder of Taunton Health
“I eliminated all vegetable oils from my diet. Cheap vegetable oils are highly processed and high in omega-6 fatty acids. They can cause a lot of inflammation in your body, which can begin to irritate many systems. After taking it out and replacing it with coconut oil or virgin olive oil, I noticed I felt a lot better and many aches and pains began to go.” —White
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“The one food item I eliminated from my diet when I got serious about my fitness and health was processed sugar. When I quit sugar, I lost weight even without trying. People should start reading labels more often. Most processed foods contain high fructose or some other form of processed sugar. I even took it out of my coffee. Once you eliminate processed sugar, you won’t crave it anymore and you’ll live a healthier life.” —Brian Mazza Fitness Influencer and President of Paige Hospitality Group
“There’s something about dunking a big chocolate chip cookie into an ice cold glass of milk. Or when those late night munchies kick in, a bowl of cereal feels like the perfect solution. Prior to bodybuilding, I would have milk delivered to my house every week—and every week, milk was guzzled by the gallon. As I entered the world of bodybuilding, this one seemingly-innocent dairy product needed to be removed from not just this one moment in time, but for the rest of my life. Milk contains sugars, carbohydrates and is one of the most commonly reported food allergies. One cup of 2% milk contains 138 calories. As a bodybuilder, what we eat becomes an integral part of every activity and empty calories do not benefit our bodies the way lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats do. Unprocessed foods are the lifeline to the way we eat. In today’s society, milk is now a processed food and is something bodybuilders steer clear from.” —Christine Cecilione, International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness pro
“The one food that I’m most thankful I cut out is soda. That decision alone reduced my caloric intake per day by 10 to 20 percent and significantly reduced my sugar intake. People seriously underestimate the sheer amount of soda that they consume in a week, simply because it is so ubiquitous in our society. One of the more noticeable side effects of dropping soda is that it allows you to enjoy the rest of your healthy meals more. Nobody realizes how taste-deafening high sugar soda is. It’s so sickly sweet that it drowns out any enjoyment of nutritious food because it is specifically made to go with high salt junk food such as Big Macs and Lays chips. To anyone who is looking to boost gym performance, the first thing I can say is that cutting out soda and foods like it is even more important than adding any superfoods to your diets.” —Ethan T. Schmidt, Founder of GymBull.com
“I eliminated those low-calorie snacks that were high in sugar alcohols from my diet because it caused my stomach to feel terrible. Why would I want to eat something that always upsets my stomach? I thought I was eating healthy because of the low calories, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t plan on eating low-calorie snacks with sugar alcohols because they made me feel worse than eating a candy bar! I feel like I have more energy and can lose weight a little more efficiently, which helps me build lean muscle.” —Anthony Alayon, bodybuilder and CEO of the Fat Extinction Program
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“I can’t eat processed foods during the week. And I don’t eat fast-digesting carbohydrates either during the week like rice or pasta. I normally save that stuff for my refeed days.”