Nutrition is AT LEAST as important as any exercise regime in a good bodybuilding program.
Your muscles need the proper nutrients if they are to grow and give you the body you want. Of course good nutrition is important for overall health, which is a nice bonus.
In this article I’m going to give you a quick guide to what foods and in what amounts you will need to grow new muscle and preserve the muscle you’ve already built…
How much and how often you should eat
The first step is to change your eating patterns — the size and frequency of your feedings. Instead of 2-3 big meals, you’re going to eat more meals more frequently throughout the day (but the portions will be smaller).
The idea of this is to increase your metabolism. This will help you burn fat – in fact after four hours or so without food, your body switches into catabolic mode, where you begin to accumulate fat; a holdover from the days of being hunter/gatherers who literally didn’t know where their next meal was coming from.
Instead, eat about every three hours (4-6 smaller meals a day).
What should I be eating?
Good question. Balance is the key when trying to build muscle. You want protein, carbs AND fat in every meal.
Getting all three at once helps your body make the most of each element and gives you sustained energy without “crashes”. The ratio you should be aiming for is roughly 40% of carbs, 40% protein and 20% fat.
How many calories?
Are you thinking, “Waht about calories, don’t those matter?”
What you should be looking for in terms of calories is an alternating pattern of low calories (about 2000 for men and 1200 for women) for two weeks followed by higher calories for two weeks (about 2500 for men and 1500 for women).
Doing your calorie intake like this will help you lose fat and build lean muscle mass — just what every bodybuilder desires. (You should send these numbers upwards somewhat if you are doing energy intensive training such as running.)
Ok, what can I eat then?
Are you now thinking, “OK, so what specifically are good things to eat while building muscle?”
You’ll want both simple and complex carbohydrates – while I don’t have enough room here to go into an entire nutrition plan, here are a few ideas:
- Simple Carbs: Fruit is your best bet for simple carbs; whatever fruit you like is fine here. As for complex Carbohydrates: Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, rice, broccoli, spinach
- Proteins: Eggs, tuna, skinless turkey or chicken, very lean beef.
- Fats: Stick with the healthy oils such as fish oils, olive oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil, as well as (natural) peanut butter – this is also a good source of protein.
- Last but not least, water - get plenty of water to keep your system flushed of toxins and adequately hydrated.
If you follow everything in this article it will get you started on your way to a nutritious diet for lean muscle building.