People on a weight loss journey have tried several ways to make their “ideal weight.“ Using extreme diets, some bodybuilders have begun eating baby foods as meal replacements for weight loss.
Do bodybuilders really eat baby food? Although it’s not common, some bodybuilders use baby food as meal replacements in a cutting phase. This is a dangerous practice since consuming a low-calorie diet (<1,200 cal) lacks essential nutrients. Other reasons to add baby food are having fewer stomach issues, adding extra calories, and eating between workouts.
In this article, I will explore everything related to this practice, including the reasons why bodybuilders might use baby food and ways to include it without affecting your health and performance.
Why Do Bodybuilders Eat Baby Food? 4 Reasons
While most competitive bodybuilders will NOT eat baby food, here are the most common reasons why bodybuilders would start eating it:
One of the main reasons why bodybuilders use baby food is as a meal replacement for weight loss. Some of them find it easier to shed pounds if they replace their meals with baby food.
Although it is not a very common practice, this dangerous approach to weight loss can have repercussions on your health.
While BMR depends on weight, height, and age, on average, a male’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) (the calories needed to provide the basic survival functions like sleeping, breathing, and chemical reactions) is around 2000 kcal, while a woman’s is around 1200 kcal.
Eating a low (<1,200 kcal) or a very low-calorie diet (<800 kcal), can severely impact your health in several aspects. Often, bodybuilders that start using baby food for weight loss, could be eating around 1,200 kcal on average per day. Thus, being considered a low-calorie diet.
So, what are the repercussions of having a low-calorie diet?
- Decreased metabolic rate. This means that you can make your metabolism less efficient, i.e. how your body burns calories. In this study, people that were on the Biggest Loser after 6 years of the intervention, had metabolic problems. They saw that on average, people’s BMR was 500 kcal lower when compared to other people in the same conditions that didn’t follow a restricted diet. This means that your body burns less calories to perform normal bodily functions, making it harder in the future to lose weight.
- Muscle loss. Low-calorie diets can cause hormonal imbalances and it can affect your muscle mass. Without adequate energy, the body turns to muscle mass in order to provide for the necessary energy for the body’s primary function. Thus, this often leads to people losing muscle mass, not fat mass.
- Nutrient deficiency. Restricting your calories and natural foods can cause nutrient deficiency. One of the main nutrients that it can lack is iron, which leads to anemia. This leads to people feeling more fatigued and reducing their immune function.
Fewer Stomach Problems
Baby food is simple and easy to digest. Since babies’ digestive tract is still in development when baby food is included (normally after 4-6 months of only using breast milk), the formula needs to be according to their needs.
This makes it an ideal food to include for those with digestive issues. Bodybuilders who often have trouble digesting food, have been preaching the wonderful benefits of using baby food to add to their meals without having any digestive problems.
Adding Extra Calories
Some bodybuilders use baby food to add more calories to their diets. Although I previously said that they use it to reduce their calories, that is only if they are using it as a meal replacement. In this situation, they include baby food in addition to their regular diet to increase their caloric intake.
For you to gain weight you need to eat more calories than your body needs (caloric surplus). Reaching this amount of calories can be a very challenging task for certain people.
Thanks to baby food being low in fiber and easy to digest, it can be processed quickly which helps you keep on adding calories without feeling too full during the day.
Note: In my professional opinion though, there are much better (and cheaper) alternatives than baby food if your goal is to supplement your meals with additional calories.
Active people that have an intense workout lasting more than 90 minutes, need to have an intra-workout meal in order to keep on supplying energy for the body.
Bodybuilders who often run for long distances, use baby food since it provides the necessary carbs to sustain your energy – notwithstanding it’s easy to digest. Thus, avoiding digestive issues that could affect overall performance.
Maggie Morgan, nutrition coach from Married To My Macros says:
“Baby food is a fast-acting, simple carbohydrate source that will provide your muscles with energy in the form of glucose. Glucose is the first thing that your body will look for to use as fuel during high-intensity training. Baby food is also very easy to digest, and without any fiber or fat, the glucose will be able to fuel your muscles quickly. Athletes should eat baby food 30 minutes prior to or during a high-intensity workout”
Are you eating the right foods for your bodybuilding goals?
Is Baby Food Good For Bulking?
Only consuming baby food might not be the best option when you are trying to bulk. You would have to eat several jars of baby food to reach the necessary calories for bulking.
The caloric content of baby food could vary from 50-150 kcal, depending on the brand and the type of baby food.
On average, a male bodybuilder in a bulking phase could need 3,000-3,500 calories, while women might need 2,500-2,800 kcal.
This means that you would have to consume 20 jars of baby food per day for a male bodybuilder and 17 jars for a female bodybuilder. Reaching this amount could be very expensive and wasteful.
Additionally, even if it is made from natural ingredients, it is not the same as eating from fresh food. You might lack essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.
However, if you eat baby food to add extra calories to your meals (i.e. you eat your normal meal and then just have a jar of baby food on the side) it can help you with bulking. If you are having a difficult time adding calories, baby food can help you add those calories without making your stomach feel full.
Is Baby Food Good For Cutting?
If you are thinking about having only baby food for weight loss, please don’t. Using baby food as a meal replacement can be a very dangerous practice.
A very low-calorie diet (below 1,200 calories) is way below a woman’s and a man’s metabolic rate. This can lead to alterations in your metabolisms and could create severe health damages in the long run.
Additionally, baby food might not be filling enough because of the low fiber. One of the benefits of fiber is that since it cannot be digested, it stays longer in your stomach, making you feel fuller. Since baby food is low in fiber, you won’t get this satiating effect, which results in you feeling hungry during the day.
How To Use Baby Food Appropriately
If you are thinking about using baby food, here are my recommendations to avoid having any health problems in the long run.
Don’t Substitute Your Food
If you are going to add baby food to your diet, think of it as a compliment or as an addition. It is not meant to be considered a meal replacement.
For those looking for a sweet treat, having some baby food can help you satisfy that craving without assuming too many calories.
You can have some apple puree with a little bit of cinnamon to have a low-calorie apple pie replacement.
Before, During, or After Workouts
Before and during exercise, you need easily digestible carbs to provide the necessary energy for your training session.
You can have some baby food before your workout to provide that energy.
Additionally, for those bodybuilders that have a training session longer than 90 minutes, I always recommend adding a carb in the middle of the workout. Baby food is often a choice I provide them since it has carbs and it’s easy to digest. Opt for those fruit-based baby food.
After a workout, you need carbs to replenish the energy (glycogen) lost during the workout. Adding baby food can help you replenish that energy lost.
Remember that you also need a protein source. Thus, you can have some protein (like chicken or a protein shake) along with a couple of jars of baby food.
Use It In Baking
Another way of using baby food is to reduce the butter content in some baking goods. You can substitute butter for applesauce to make them lower in saturated fats (which are unhealthy for your heart).
Replace the exact amount of butter with applesauce, or here is a recipe from Oatmeal With A Fork to help you out in the process.
Use It As A Sauce
Finally, for those that want to add some variety to their foods, you can add baby food as a sauce option. If you don’t have a lot of time for cooking but don’t want to have sauces that are high in calories you can use baby food.
It can save you time in cooking and can make a dey chicken breast, into something juicier and tastier.
Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?
Final Recommendation: Should You Eat Baby Food Too?
If you are thinking of replacing your meals with baby food to shed those extra pounds, adding baby food is not a healthy choice.
You can severely restrict yourself both in calories and micronutrient content. This can result in weight loss but not the kind that you want. Those pounds that you lose are mainly muscle and water loss.
The lack of micronutrients can have an impact on your health. Making you weaker, sicker, and reducing your overall performance.
Baby food as an addition to your balanced healthy diet can be a practical and good option. For those bulking, adding baby food can help you reach those extra calories that you need.
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.