Sure, this is a super-generalized post about dietary strategies for bodybuilding (it's really not), but none-the-less, here goes.
This is for the "In the Trenches" guys (and gals). Not your everyday in the trench folk (though there's possibly something to gain here for them as well), but the one's that are in the trenches but stuck in a rut.
Us bodybuilder have known for some time now that we're not typical. We have strange, sometimes very strange, eating habits. This has been pointed out to us on more than one occasion. Regardless of who is making the observation, nor how rude it may come across, we brush that shit off and go about our business because we know "a bit" more about nutrition than your average person, some more than others, to say the least. Sometimes we're collectively, or individually wrong or ill-advised to make the some of the decisions we make, but overall we have a good plan, and we seek to improve it. We work with iron and food. We do this in the name our game, bodybuilding.
The point of this post is to discuss how you make food work for you. What tweaks have you made that may be unusual. In particular, feel free to discuss any unique obstacles you overcame, or are currently overcoming, in this pursuit. By that I mean, what unique food challenges do you face that someone else (bodybuilder or average citizen) may not have had to face?
I didn't call this post "Foods that Work" because that would simply be a list of "healthy foods".
My personal experience -- I've always had IBS. Out of ignorance, I thought it was something I was plagued with, not realizing that the food I was eating was the cause. Slowly over time, I found the trigger foods/food combinations that were at work. Not only were these foods not helping me gain muscle, they were harming my recovery and actually robbing me of critical nutrients. So in the pursuit of bodybuilding, I discovered my weakest point was my gut.
By addressing my gut health, my overall health and RECOVERY have gone way up. Largely by simply eliminating certain foods, and prioritizing others. Also, I discovered that my liver needed a boost and found supplements to help out with that... Having legitimate gut health issues can lead to an inability to absorb critical nutrients that the liver needs to do it's job (type 1 detoxification pathway...). So by improving digestion (not simply adding in a multivitamin), I am able to get more nutrients that the body needs, but also adding in "extra stuff" the body uses for detoxifying, particularly NAC and calcium d-glucarate.
Overall, I'm feeling pretty damn good and healthy. No longer dealing with sluggish, depressive feeling, nor getting chronic food poisoning, diarrhea, etc. and haven't been sick with cold or flu in some time. I really am feeling great. I don't mean to brag, but I just feel that now my body is in a better place to train, recover, etc. now that food is working for me, rather than against me.
...oh yeah, so to wrap this out, and to stick to the point of the post, putting food to work for me isn't just about macros. When I first got into bodybuilding, I read and I read, but nothing pointed me in exactly the right direction. Believe it or not, I would easily overtrain and get sick. Slowly I learned about ways to boost the immune system, and many times the info kept pointing me in the same direction. I learned it was a bit more serious than IBS, and as a result I had developed some immune issues. They weren't life threatening but certainly got in the way of gaining muscle. When the body is spending so much energy unnecessarily fighting shit, it has little energy left to do petty tasks like building extra muscle. So I admit, I did a lot of "alternative" health research, but you have to set your filter pretty high when it comes to that stuff. I learned a lot along the way, and I'm to a point now that I'm really ready to put food to work for me.