Mirror, mirror on the wall, give the answer I demand!!!
Every day, I look at myself in the mirror and ask the same question. Can I be like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronnie Coleman, or Frank Zane? A sigh! But then, a mirror is just a glass, and you are more than that.
I am a bony boy with a little flesh in me. But I have a dream—a big daring dream of big muscles like Natural Bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman. But the twist in the story is I want to achieve muscular endurance naturally, without supplement.
Now, bodybuilding without supplements: is it possible? I play with this question in my head and seek to search for the answer. Finally, after a rollercoaster ride of research, what I found just made my day.
Yes, it is possible. You can build your body muscles without the help of any supplements. However, the road is not smooth and flat as pancakes, rather a bumpy and rough one. And patience is your only aid in this journey. What you need more is your proper nutrition, recovery, and training.
If you want to build your body muscle without supplements, fasten your seat belt and ride with me on this bumpy bus of bodybuilding without supplements.
Table of Content
Bodybuilding and its Challenges
Bodybuilding is unique in the competitive aspect compared to other sports. In the bodybuilding competition, judges look at various factors of natural bodybuilders: size, presentation, muscularity, and symmetry.
The main challenge in bodybuilding is bodybuilders must drop off the body fat distribution while maintaining as much muscle as possible to have a balanced body weight. Low body fat rate is significant because it gives muscles more sharpness and shows more veins.
Not only must you have large muscles like a bodybuilder, but your muscles also have to be symmetrical for the correct body weight. For example, you must have biceps of the same size and shape. One bicep is larger than the other is not something one desires.
Building body muscle is not easy. Generally, a bodybuilder breaks his training down into stages. At one stage, they will focus on building more muscle mass by lifting weights and increasing their calorie count with food and protein shakes. In the next step, bodybuilders lower their calorie intake and increase their activity level to cut down their body fat, aka, fatty acids percentage.
Supplements like protein shakes are natural boosters used by bodybuilders. However, supplements affect only 3 to 5 percent of your bodybuilding. Rest depends on your diet, as supplements can never replace your diet. They only kick you or push you to make your body get lean or bulk or stay fit according to your goals.
Therefore, if you have a good diet, you can achieve everything. Also try bodybuilding without supplements for being healthy.
Bodybuilding Without Supplements: is it Possible?
It is possible to be a successful bodybuilder without taking supplements. You could match almost all of your nutritional needs with food.
Bodybuilding existed before supplements. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there was no whey protein, no creatine powder, and absolutely no BCAA powder. The sportsmen of that time went the natural way to build their body muscles. The idea of taking nutritional supplements to improve training didn’t begin until the 1950s. That means many great athletes, also Eugene Sandow, enjoyed extraordinary achievements without any supplements to help them.
Bodybuilding without supplements is entirely possible as long as you take care of your nutrition, recovery, and training. Therefore, bodybuilders should focus on these cornerstones of training before starting their training.
In this article, I will explore how to build your body muscles without supplements. It includes what you need to eat, the necessary workout, your routine and recovery, and what to expect from your supplement-free training. We will also explore how to avoid supplements with food.
What are Supplements?
A new bee who wants to start bodybuilding without supplements faces these questions first: what exactly is a supplement? Do you need a supplement to build your body muscle, or is it possible to achieve without supplements? However, before exploring these answers, you need to understand what the term “supplement” means.
People use the word to mean various things for various contexts. For example, some people count any kind of boost to your body’s natural chemistry as a kind of supplement. On the other hand, some refer to the boost-giving concoctions, anabolic steroids, as supplements. For they want to avoid this term “steroid.” However, steroids are not supplements.
Supplements are any legal product you purchase that does not produce naturally—for example, ginger. You can buy ginger in any supermarket, which occurs naturally. Now, this is not a supplement. However, if pills or powder is produced from concentrated ginger and you buy it from your local pharmacy, you can call it supplements. Therefore, any pills and powders made out of natural ingredients are supplements.
Every athlete has his way of reaching his goal. Some boost their workout and training with the help of supplements like whey, creatine, and other products. Supplements are indeed excellent at fulfilling the gaps in your nutrition that you are struggling with. Dietary Supplements for exercise and athletic performance products claim to improve strength or endurance, increase exercise efficiency, achieve a performance goal more quickly, and increase tolerance for more intense training.
Supplement sales and manufacturing produce a colossal industry today. A report by Grand View Research shows that the supplement industry will be worth $272.4 billion by 2028. Supplements are rising at an unprecedented rate. But the question is how necessary they are? Is bodybuilding without supplements really possible?
The answer is: yes. However, the road is more extended and more challenging. If you want to go this way, you need a gut and spirit higher than the rest. You also need one more thing: patience. If you are patient and follow a proper diet, routine workout, and recovery, you can be the winner. For you, bodybuilding without supplement is 100% possible.
Which Supplements Are Vital to Success?
Supplements are usually considered as a shortcut to success. Bodybuilders typically take supplements to fill up the gaps that their nutrition can not provide.
However, without supplements, it is perfectly possible to achieve that goal too. But one thing you have to remember is that bodybuilding without supplements would be much more challenging.
Before you start your training, you need to know which supplements bodybuilders usually intake. Then you can replace the need for these supplements from your workout with a nutritious diet.
Here is a list of 4 supplements a bodybuilder usually considers to reach their goal. Know about them and replace them with better healthy food.
Creatine is one of the popular supplement choices for bodybuilders. It can increase strength and power and improve aerobic and anaerobic performance. It also improves your recovery and cognition. Creatine also claims to improve your mood. Red meat and fish are good sources of creatine.
When we hear ‘caffeine,’ a cup of hot coffee comes into our brain. But caffeine in bodybuilding is different from recreational coffee.
Caffeine is a supplement that the trainer gets from pre-workouts or caffeine tablets. This supplement can improve mood, reduce tiredness, reduce the feeling of pain, increase strength and power, and improve aerobic and anaerobic performance. It may also help reduce pain from DOMS.
Bodybuilders require vast amounts of protein each day. So many use protein supplements or powder to hit that. Mainly vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders take some form of supplementation to fulfill their need for a protein made from protein synthesis.
An elite athlete requires more vitamins and minerals than regular people due to the intensity of their training. So the athletes take multivitamins to fill the lack of vitamins and minerals in the body.
Your Diet is key to your bodybuilding without Supplement
It is 40 percent exercise and 60 percent diet: an adage in bodybuilding. And it is true.
Supplements are pretty new to the world, whereas people were fit and muscular since the dawn of man. Why supplement? Food can do a lot more to affect your physique than any supplements can ever do.
Therefore, if you are planning bodybuilding without supplements, start by watching your diet. Find food that will help you get ripped off fat and calories from fat: lean meats like turkey, chicken, fish. Start adding foods that will help you gain muscle: nuts, beans, peas, whole grains, seeds, natural vegetables, and natural fruit.
Trust me; a good diet can do wonders for your rips and gains.
Diet for Supplements
The main issues for any bodybuilder who wants to avoid supplements will be pre-workout nutrition, a lack of protein, and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals due to training at a high intensity. So any normal diet that wants to avoid supplements needs to target these three areas.
If you follow a vegan diet, this will be even more tricky from a protein perspective. However, vitamin and mineral management may be a little easier for you. But try to keep an eye on the intake of calories per day.
Your pre-workout nutrition will be vital without a pre-workout supplement. If caffeine is your choice, then get a coffee about 40 minutes before your workout. Breakfast or lunch 60 minutes before your training is always good. If you can not manage that, take a small pre-workout meal beforehand.
Remember, your meal should be rich in protein and carbohydrates and low in fat.
For example, low-fat Greek yogurt with some fruits and oats on top is a great light meal. It is high in protein, mixed with fast-digesting carbs, fruits, and slow-digesting carbs, oats. If your goal is bulking at the same time, then take some higher-calorie foods as your pre-workout nutrition.
Protein is Power
Spreading your protein intake throughout the day is the first thing you need to know before starting your diet plan. Most people take protein during their most important meal of the day. But, bodybuilders, this will not fulfill their requirements.
Focus on increasing your protein intake throughout the day. Add essential amino acids or protein in high amounts to your breakfast and lunch. Also, pack some higher protein snacks in your pantry to eat throughout the day. Beef jerky, Greek yogurt, a glass of milk, low-fat cheese, hard-boiled eggs, tuna sandwiches, and cold chicken are a few high-protein snacks to keep you moving.
Most importantly, add protein to your normal diet from different food sources, not just meat and dairy. Some good protein sources are chickpeas, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, and beans. These foods can improve your vitamin and mineral intake too.
Replacing Creatine With Food
Creatine is a popular supplement taken by bodybuilders before or after the workout. While the supplement they take is manufactured, however, the exciting fact is creatine is a naturally occurring substance.
Your liver produces creatine and sends it to your muscle tissues—the form of creatine that your body stores and uses is called creatine phosphate. It works as an energy source for the muscles to settle. It is a helpful supplement for bodybuilders, which increases lean body mass and improves strength.
Now, the question is: how to replace creatine while bodybuilding without supplements?
The answer is simple: healthy and nutritious food. A pound of raw red meat contains about 2 grams of creatine, while a salmon has 5 grams. This amount is the usual dose a bodybuilder intake as a supplement. However, when you cook meat, some of the creatine gets broken.
Bacon, sausage, rabbit meat, pork, black pudding, and herring are good sources of creatine. However, if you are a vegan, you can replace creatine with seeds (pumpkin, sesame), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts), legumes (beans, peas), tofu, ricotta cheese, etc.
Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency
Vitamins and minerals are crucial for a bodybuilder. And if you want to avoid multivitamins, you have to focus more on getting all your nutrients from fruits, vegetables, meat, and grain.
Focus on vitamin B. Athletes are most likely to be deficient in vitamin B, mainly female bodybuilders. So, they should take foods high in iron and calcium.
However, this can be an area where you may want to break your no-supplement rule. Without sufficient vitamins and minerals, it can be pretty hard to combat deficiencies created by exercise.
Drink loads of water
Well-hydrated tissue cells can inhibit muscle decline after an intense workout session. Lower hydration levels in your body lead to the reduction of cells and essential amino acids breakdown. Just by drinking enough water, you can keep your cells plump and decrease protein breakdown.
According to the journal Psychophysiology, drinking water can boost up your endurance and tolerance to pain. So, If you want a lengthy and intense workout to build better muscle tissues, drink loads of water.
Dealing a Different Timetable
Healthy diet and routine: these two factors are crucial for you if you want bodybuilding without supplement. But focusing on those two factors often blocks out one of the most critical factors in working out: time.
You need more time
Without any supplements, you can achieve a fantastic result. But, there is a drawback. It is going to take more time if you want to build muscle without any supplements.
Many get discouraged and tired of waiting when they do not see any notable gains right away. They are too impatient.
Of course, bodybuilding without supplements will take longer, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. The only difference is your timetable. You will have to be more patient and strong-willed to get the result you are dreaming of.
Sleeping is Significant
Sleeping is essential if you want to build your body muscles without supplements. The reason is when you work out to gain muscle, small tears in your muscles occur. So, you need to give your body sufficient time to heal. Enough sleep also provides fresh energy and makes you ready to build more muscle the next day by keeping the blood pressure under control.
Sleep schedule is different for every individual. However, you need to sleep more than you usually would, and that more than the rest if you plan to work out your body in a serious way. Moreover, your sleep cycle manages your hormonal process. Therefore, get plenty of rest so that you can attain those serious gains. Don’t think much about bodybuilding without supplements.
A healthy diet plays a prominent role in bodybuilding. True. But they are not the only ingredients for your success-secret in bodybuilding without supplements. With eating right and sleeping sufficient, you need to commit to your workout routine. If you only eat well but do not work out, you can never get your cherished ripped arms and shredded abs. For your desired goal, you need a “workout” routine.
To make solid gains, you need both “work out” and “work up.” Puzzled?
New muscle only develops when it is challenged. So you need to challenge your previous strength. For example, if you are rolling the same measure of weight for a few months straight, you’re only keeping your strength level. So, you have to constantly challenge yourself to do more if you want to make gains. For newbies, aerobic training can be a great option.
The scientific name for this ‘work up and challenge’ is called hypertrophy. It only occurs when you push yourself into a more complex form and the muscles ‘tear’. These small tears eventually lead to muscular growth and cause you to ‘feel the burn’ with intense blood flow in the muscle.
So, if you are head-strong about some serious bodybuilding without supplements, then dedication and a good routine are what you need. A word of caution: avoid working out the same muscle two days in a row or using a less-than-perfect form.
Remember: a consistent routine, challenging your outcomes, and using the correct form can take you a long way, definitely to sure success.
Benefits of Avoiding Supplements
Numerous benefits are there if you avoid supplements in your training to build body muscle.
When you cut supplements from your plan, you pay proper attention to your diet. You eat more fruits and vegetables, get your protein or essential amino acids from various healthy sources, and timely take your pre-workout meal. This gives you great energy to train harder. This way, you take complete control of your own nutrition by cutting all shortcuts.
Moreover, you save a lot of money by cutting all supplements.
Do you know what is the best part of bodybuilding without supplements? You stop relying on shortcuts. You are the master of your own world, controlling and managing everything.
Downsides of Avoiding Supplements
The most prominent downside of avoiding supplements would be a decline in performance, a decrease in recovery, and an increase in additional work.
Without whey protein, you need to find other ways to increase protein in your diet. Next is creatine monohydrate, which is presumably the most effective and well-tested supplement. It is hard to get enough of it without supplementation. You need to eat a lot and a lot of beef, fish, and poultry; however, that can impact your blood flow and pressure.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, you can get ways to have enough of every single vitamin and mineral. But it is incredibly challenging. In comparison, a multivitamin is very easy to take.
Without the supplements, your dream of bodybuilding may look difficult, but it is not impossible. You need to be patient, determined, and strong-willed to reach your goal.
a) How much time does it take bodybuilding without supplements?
You do not need to spend your whole day in the gym to build muscle. Weight training for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week, is enough. Results may not always be fast. If you maintain a solid strength training routine, you will observe noticeable muscle gains in a few weeks to several months.
b) What do vegetarian bodybuilders eat?
Vegetarian athletes should eat good quality protein at every meal. They eat five or six small meals per day. Each meal includes good sources of protein and various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, vegetable oils, and plenty of water.
To get enough nutrition with a vegan diet, bodybuilders eat plant-based proteins like nuts, beans, tofu, porridge, seed, spirulina, cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
c) How much protein should you intake every day?
The role of protein is significant to overall body function and health for a bodybuilder. The RDA for a bodybuilder should be about 1.7 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body’s lean body mass per day.
Last thoughts on Bodybuilding without Supplements
Bodybuilding exists for ages, from ancient Greek to modern time Olympic athletes. Old-time heroes were all owners of good physiques. And that without any supplements.
So, if you ask me if it is possible to get into natural bodybuilding without supplements, my answer is a simple YES.
Though it is not impossible to do serious bodybuilding without supplements, it is difficult. You need to employ more dedication and more endurance to live your dream.
Just remember you are on a different timetable than the rest, and patience is your only key. Focus on the proper diet, get plenty of sleep, and maintain a good workout routine. Stick to it, and the success is yours.