Digital art done by Kristian Lazcano
Digital art done by Kristian Lazcano

Bulking and Fasting: The fine line between fitness and health concerns

Participating in sports can be one of the healthiest decisions an individual can make. However, the athletic standards that the sporting community holds can be unhealthy. These standards promote unhealthy dieting techniques, including bulking and fasting. While these diets can help individuals achieve their ideal weight and physique, both diets can become extremely harmful if misused. They can become addicting, and even result in the development of eating disorders. It is vital that coaches are aware of which of their athletes are participating in or considering diets, and are aware of the risks that come along with dieting.
While many coaches are encouraging athletes to participate in dangerous bulking and fasting practices, coaches are not solely to blame for poor choice in diets. The National Institute of Health emphasizes that “poor nutrition knowledge,” is a causation for the unhealthy diets that are being promoted within the sporting community.
Bulking is a phase in which an individual undergoes a cycle involving the consumption of excessive amounts of calories in order to build muscle. While bulking can help achieve the desired weight gain, there is a fine line between healthy bulking and unhealthy practices. When an individual chooses to consume an excessive amount of calories, they put their overall health at risk, and may later develop type two diabetes.
While bulking is the overconsumption of calories, fasting involves underconsumption of calories, while continuing to exercise. The goal is to lose fat mass while maintaining lean muscle. Athletes will go through the process of either eating an extremely small amount of food, or simply go without food for a given amount of time. Depriving oneself of food is depriving the body of its needed source of energy. According to the National Institute of Health, depriving the body from receiving enough calories can cause athletes to experience fatigue, nausea, increased stress, and sleep deprivation.
The Better Health Channel argues the importance of balance between exercise and food intake, encouraging people to eat regular amounts throughout their exercise periods. The Harvard T.J Chan School of Public Health emphasizes that “a healthy palate consists of one-half of vegetables, one-fourth whole grains, and one-fourth of protein power.”
Diets can play a crucial role in sports, but it’s vital to maintain a balanced approach to avoid unhealthy extremes. Educating athletes about proper nutrition, and monitoring diet practices can help promote a healthy way of reaching fitness goals. Especially with youth athletes, it’s important to form a healthy standard in sports that will encourage healthier dieting in the future.

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