These days, it appears that the term "natural bodybuilding" is an oxymoron. The public concept of bodybuilders, which is most often based on the appearance of professional bodybuilders, is that all are "juiced up" monstrosities, none of whom have any compunction against shooting up any kind of drug that will enhance their muscle size and definition. While it's true that attempting to find a completely drug-free competitor in the pro ranks can be likened to searching for a Tyrannosaurs Rex walking in Times Square, there is nonetheless a segment of competitive bodybuilders who eschew all anabolic drug usage. In addition, there is a much larger population of people that want to look muscular and fit, but also avoid drug usage, even though they may not be interested in actual competition. In science studies, such people are referred to as "recreational trainees."
There is little doubt that using anabolic drugs, such as anabolic steroids, growth hormone, and insulin, can provide some significant benefits to those engaged in bodybuilding. For one, they speed the process of muscle protein synthesis, which is the underlying basis of muscular hypertrophy or growth. They also dramatically increase recovery time after training, thus permitting a greater volume and intensity of exercise while still avoiding the negative effects of overtraining. You might say that using an extensive array of anabolic drugs takes the thinking out of bodybuilding since their use allows a number of errors to occur that would otherwise hamper muscle gains. These include the aforementioned overtraining, as well as certain dietary mistakes.
What this suggests is that to be natural means you must also be far more analytical. You need to carefully consider the factors that will produce maximal muscle progress while avoiding aspects that might impede muscle gains. While a steroid-using bodybuilder can get away with overtraining and even dietary indiscretions prior to a contest, these mistakes could easily derail the contest preparations of a natural bodybuilder.
In recent years, scientists have taken a closer look at bodybuilding practices, and from this have emerged guidelines as to the most efficient way to spare muscle and lose fat prior to a contest appearance. While much of this pertains to natural competitors, the same principles also apply to recreational and even those who do use anabolic drugs. Still, these must be considered general guidelines because of individual responses. An example of this is using low-carbohydrate diets. This type of diet is the most popular for purposes of losing excess body fat. But it actually works best for those who are insulin insensitive, which is marked by a sensitivity of carb intake that often results in higher insulin secretion. Insulin is controversial because it functions as both an anabolic hormone, and a lipogenic hormone. The latter term refers to the fact that insulin tends to promote body fat synthesis, mainly in the presence of excess calorie intake. There are those who say that insulin alone cannot make . . .