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Nutrition for Bodybuilding

Online Diet Plan, Guide Nutrition and Tips


There are a few things you will have to accept before trying to gain mass:

  1. You will have to eat sufficient quality protein

    This means dropping most of the junk and substituting healthy foods. Try to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight. I try to get it mostly from whey protein powder, chicken, fish, and lean red meats.

  2. You will gain both fat and muscle simultaneously

    This is by far the most irritating thing about trying to put on muscle. To add muscle, you have to eat more. Eating more means more calories. It's highly doubtful that you will eat exactly the right amount of food. In most cases, you'll eat slightly too many calories, and that means adding some fat, too. But don't worry, if you are that dedicated to gain weight, then you should have enough motivation to lose some fat too.

  3. Healthy first - Tasty second

    I don't mean sitting around eating plain brown rice and plain chicken...ok, maybe sometimes. But there's no reason you can't have your protein powder and eat it too. You just have to get a little creative. For example, most spices have very few calories and lots of taste. I use lemon-pepper, celery-salt, a little BBQ sauce, etc. It's not hard. Just use a little common sense. Below are some examples of what I eat.


How I have been eating to gain mass

When I made the commitment to get back into bodybuilding, I wanted to accomplish one thing: get bigger and more muscular. I've always eaten well, but not protein powder. I mention that a lot, because I feel it's importance can be easily overlooked. - My typical protein shake recipe:

  • 8-12 ounces skim milk
  • 1 tsp flax seed oil (to get all three Essential Fatty Acids)
  • 25 grams Whey protein powder
  • A little bit of frozen fruit - strawberries, raspberries, etc.

Then just blend it up, and you've got a great post-workout drink. I believe the carbs help the protein-sparing effect. They get used for energy, and the protein gets used to build muscle.

So, a typical day's meal plan may look like this:

MEAL

  1. Breakfast:
    • Seven scrambled eggs (1 whole + 6 or more whites)
    • 1 cup cooked NON-instant oatmeal.
    • 1 glass apple juice
    • 1 cup coffee
  2. Snack:
    • 1 protein shake
    • 1 small glass of water
  3. Lunch:
    • 1 can tuna fish in water
    • 2 slices of wheat bread
    • 1 spoon of sweet relish
    • Dash of Celery-salt
    • 1 large glass of water
  4. Snack:
    • 1 protein shake
    • 1 small glass of water
  5. Dinner:
    • 1 baked boneless chicken breast, or salmon steak
    • 1 serving of brown rice
    • 1 serving of green beans
    • 1 large glass of water
  6. Before Bed: (since I always wake up starving anyway)
    • 1 protein shake
    • 1 small glass of water


Water

I try to drink about 1 gallon of water a day, including what I have above. Sometimes I'll end up drinking 2 gallons if I work legs that day. It's very important to stay hydrated all the time. A good indication is if your urine is clear or yellow. If it looks like this: YELLOW!, then you're not drinking enough (haha). You need to flush out all those toxins and free radicals that you generate in the gym. Think of it as preventive medicine for later in life.

There are some theories about how drinking too much water flushes vitamins out of your body. I'm sure this has some truth to it, but only in extreme cases. I've heard some pro-bodybuilders drink upwards of *5* gallons a day the week before competition. Holy hydration, Batman! That's a lot of water! Might as well put your refrigerator and TV in the bathroom, and buy stock in Tidy Bowl!


What to eat when traveling

I always try to eat healthy, even when I travel. Sometimes you just have to stop at a gas station or a fast food joint to eat. When you do, it's not always as hard as you may think to eat right. For example, at a gas station I may try to get some Fig Newtons, granola bars, Powerbars, those new V8 drinks, Gatorade, or lots of other stuff. You'd be surprised at what you can get there. Avoid candy bars, soft drinks, etc. These contain mostly refined sugar that has little or no benefit to you. You can even get the canned Slim Fast milkshakes. Those aren't too bad, and even have some protein.

At fast food places, I usually get coffee (my one weakness!), two small hamburgers, and maybe a small milkshake. It's not too bad, and keeps you full. Just use common sense, and remember your goals.

Actually, I usually make 2-3 servings of protein drink and pack it in a cooler. Every 1-2 hours I'll drink one serving and have a few pieces of fruit. Remember that when you travel you are sitting down most of the time. Very few calories are expended in this manner (maybe 60-100 an hour). So even if you ate 1 candy bar which has 250 calories, it's enough energy for up to 2.5 hours! That's why it's important to choose wisely when traveling.


Examples of other healthy foods

  • Hurst's 15 Bean Soup - This stuff is cheap as dirt (but will also taste like dirt unless you add spices and stuff-haha). I usually add carrots, ham, chicken, or whatever. Lots of protein and potassium in the beans, and has some good flavor after adding extra stuff.

  • Healthy Choice French Bread Pizzas - I eat these at work on the night shift sometimes. They are relatively cheap, usually 20 grams of protein per pizza, and low fat. Plus there's hardly ever a time when I couldn't go for pizza.

  • Chili - I make this using one of those flavoring packets (by McCormick I think). Just use lean ground beef, and cook it well. Also use only 1/2 pound of beef instead of the 1 pound they say. It's like eating a friggin' chili flavored hamburger! Add chili powder, onion powder or whatever to spice it up. Good stuff. Just remember that chili has a lot of calories in one bowl so don't eat too much at one serving.

  • Steak - Oh yeah! This is a man's meal (disclaimer: this is also a woman's meal - hehehe). The best steaks are Fillet Mignon, New York Strip, or Sirloins. Always cook them well done. Leaving any red behind could be a bad idea. I usually have a little red wine with these meals too. Adds to the flavor.

Just remember, what works for me may not work for you. So keep trying new things until you find something that works. Once it starts working, go with it until you stop seeing results.


Myth: Eating a fat free diet keeps your body fat free

This has to be the most absurd idea I've ever seen! I'm not sure where this concept first materialized, but it's completely wrong. The only diet that guarantees not fat on your body (or muscle) is a food-free one. Just take a look at war/famine victims...no fat! Of course, they also have very little muscle as well. The body has had to feed of their own tissues to keep them alive. These are extreme cases of what happens when you don't eat. I am, by no means, recommending this diet.

I suppose this myth originally came from a deduction: Excessive bodyfat looks bad, feels bad, and has some bad health consequences...therefore, dietary fat is also bad. First of all, everything you put in your body has to be fully digested - down to the smallest atom. Only then can it be used by the body for energy, or stored as fat. The body will only store your food as fat if it already has sufficient quantities to perform all necessary bodily functions. It's like a car's gas tank: it simply stores all the excess fuel (energy) in the tank until needed. Only a small amount is needed at any one time.

For bodybuilding purposes, I recommend aiming for the following food percentages: Protein - 40%, Carbohydrates - 40%, and Fat - 20%. This is very flexible depending on your goals. I would use this balance for gaining weight. A contest diet would be much higher in protein, for example. It also depends on your body type (i.e. you tend to gain/lose weight easily, or have a fast/slow metabolism). But make no mistake, protein intake is very important to building muscle. It simply can't be done without adequate amounts. Which leads me to the next topic...


How much protein should I eat?

There have been tons of studies to find an answer to this question. All of them seem to reach a similar conclusion. The general rule of thumb seems to be: eat 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you're 150 pounds, try to eat between 150 and 225 grams of protein a day.

If this sounds like a lot, then you're right! The typical American diet primarily consists of carbohydrates and fat. I'd estimate it's in the range of 70% carbohydrate, 25% fat and 5% protein. Well, that may be a bit extreme but just look around you. Most people have lots of fat and very little muscle. Like I said before, two-thirds of Americans are overweight - sad, sad.

So back to the question of protein intake. The body can typically only digest 40 grams of protein at any one sitting. I recommend distributing your protein intake over the entire day in the form of whole foods and protein supplements. For example, if you eat 6 small meals a day (like most bodybuilders) then try to consume 30-40 grams of protein per meal. More if you're a big person, and less if you're small. The goal is to provide your body with a constant stream of protein to rebuild muscle. That way, every time your body goes to repair a damaged muscle fiber there will be raw materials available.


Should I take vitamin supplements?

This is another hot topic of debate. Some scientists claim you can get enough vitamins from regular foods. Other insist athletes need vitamin supplements due to their demanding training regimens. Both sides put up a good argument. But I have another take on the subject: preventive medicine.

Multivitamin/Multimineral supplements are very cheap. A bottle of 250 tablets might run you $10-$12 - about 20 cents a day. A drop in the bucket compared to other things you buy. And what do you get for it? A guarantee that your body is getting all of the necessary vitamins critical to good health. That's it! For 20 cents a day, what do you have to lose? Not much. But you have a lot to gain.

Also, you can take some additional Vitamin C and E. These are two of the more important vitamins. They help prevent cancer, rebuild damaged cells, utilize protein, and lots more. In general, taking 500mg of C and 400IU of E is good for most people. Higher levels can be used during dieting or other extremes, but consult someone knowledgable in that area first.

Vitamins are very important to good health. They do everything from strengthening the immune system to helping you metabolize protein. Vitamins can't provide you with extra energy the way food can, but they will improve your health. Just use common sense and don't go overboard with them.

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