Never underestimate the value of nutrition to muscle development. Check out this guide to set up a bodybuilding diet plan for yourself.
Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition, said Vince Gironda. So, a meal plan with a particular goal is the one that helps you burn a great fat amount, bulk up, and stay active. Get a fully-stocked fridge with foods in the Ultimate Sup list below.
Unlike powerlifting, bodybuilding depends on one's physical appearance rather than physical strength. That's why individuals hitting the gym desire to get in good shape and maintain a well-balanced physique.
Numerous bodybuilders begin with an off-season eating way and then continue with an in-season one. So, you’ll have two eating phases - a bulking and cutting phase.
On one hand, the bulking level can last months to years. During this phase, bodybuilders follow a high-calories, protein-rich diet in conjunction with intense lifting weights. On the other hand, the cutting phase specializes in burning fat while maintaining muscle mass gained in the first phase. After 12-26 weeks, your body may go through some differences and transfer into a bomb.
Resistance workouts strengthen muscles and enhance their sizes. Strong muscles may run a lower risk of cancer, heart, and kidney disease, along with many serious illnesses.
To be specific, doing aerobic exercise can boost your fat-burning process, promote heart health and fundamentally reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease - the most common reason why people die in America.
Apart from training, gym-goers should spend time adjusting their nutrition, too. With the right eating method, you can not only assist with your gym work but also live a happy healthy life. Hence, choosing yourself a well-planned, nutrient-dense diet with a suitable amount is really essential, especially if you want to stay away from chronic diseases.
Calorie Requirements And Macronutrients
As mentioned above, determined bodybuilders chase the goal to develop muscle mass in the bulking phase. Going next to the cutting phase, they tend to cut down on their body fat. Therefore, more calories need to be consumed in the bulking phase.
How many exactly calories do you need? The simplest way is to measure your weight at least three times a week and take a note of whatever you eat with a calorie tracking app. A tracking app makes it simple to choose and track what you consume by tallying up the calories and macros you've taken into your body.
"The exact percentage of macros will vary person to person, but most programs require a high percentage of carbs, a moderate percentage of protein, and a low to moderate percentage of fat," explains Evan Eaton, a nutrition expert with Nutrishop in Boca Raton, Florida.
It may sound complicated, isn't it? That's why most athletes always have a nutritionist by their sides to help them figure out what their calorie count and macronutrient breakdown should be throughout all stages of prep, says bodybuilder Natalie Matthews, IFBB Bikini Pro and founder of Fit Vegan Chef.
In case your weight doesn’t change, your calorie number daily is acceptable. It’s your maintenance calories as you’re not getting thinner or fatter.
As a matter of fact, you should raise your calorie intake by 15%. For instance, if your maintenance calories are 3,000 per day, you should eat 3,450 calories per day (3,000 x 0.15 = 450) during your bulking stage.
When stepping to a cutting phase, lower your maintenance calories by 15% in spite of leveling it up. It usually takes at least a month to stabilize your calorie intake to transform your body gradually.
During either phase, your body weight shouldn't be off-balanced. Losing or gaining no more than 0.5-1% of your body weight per week is enough. Only doing that will preserve your muscles during the cutting phase. It can also prevent you from getting too much body fat in the bulking phase.
Now you know the calorie amount needed, what about your macronutrient ratio? What is the most appropriate ratio between your protein, carbs, and fat intake?
The most extraordinary fact about your macronutrient ratio is that it will stay the same all the time. The premise of a bodybuilding meal plan is that you can eat whatever foods you want, as long as you don't go over your allotted calories and hit the right ratio of the three macros. This eating style can be called “flexible dieting.” Here is a recommended one you should consider:
30–35% of your calories from protein
55–60% of your calories from carbs
15–20% of your calories from fat
For your information, have a glance at this example of the ratio for both phases:
In contrast, eating unhealthy foods will leave a lot of consequences.
So, considering the types of foods to eat is a must.
Foods To Consume
The bulking and cutting phases don't need two particular, separated diets. All you have to focus on is the kinds of foods and their amounts.
Meats, poultry, and fish: Sirloin steak, ground beef, pork tenderloin, venison, chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, and cod.
Dairy: Yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat milk, and cheese.
Grains: Bread, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn, and rice.
Fruits: Oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, watermelon, and berries.
Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, corn, green peas, green lima beans, and cassava.
Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, leafy salad greens, tomatoes, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, peppers, and mushrooms.
Seeds and nuts: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Beans and legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans.
Oils: Olive oil, flaxseed oil, and avocado oil.
Foods To Avoid
There are foods needed to consume, but some should be out of reach if possible.
Alcohol: Alcohol can influence your muscle growth and fat burning process, especially if you consume it excessively.
Added sugars: Candy, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, cake, and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, include a bunch of calories with few nutrients.
Deep-fried foods: These might stimulate inflammation and diseases, in case you consume too many unhealthy foods. Examples are fried fish, french fries, onion rings, chicken strips, and cheese curds.
Besides, here are some foods to limit before working out since they can interfere with your digestion and bother your stomach during training.
High-fat foods: High-fat meats, buttery foods, and heavy sauces or creams.
High-fiber foods: Beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower.
Carbonated beverages: Sparkling water or diet soda.
Workout supplements are not so strange to bodybuilders these days. For specific purposes, taking up some dietary supplements can indeed be a game-changer.
Whey Protein: The most convenient and effective method to enhance your protein intake.
Creatine: The best support for your muscles. It delivers more energy for you to improve better performance. Among all kinds of creatine, creatine monohydrate is the most well-known.
Caffeine: The most necessary factor to decrease fatigue, making you work harder and longer at the gym.
Multivitamins and minerals: The most suitable to control your calorie intake to cut down on your body fat while in the cutting phase.
One-Week Sample Menu
Diets are commonly thought to be restrictive, tedious, and tiresome. In the past, a healthy diet usually consisted of not too many types of foods, leading to some vital nutrient efficiency. Hence, you should balance your meal plan to fulfill your body with nutrients, especially during a cutting phase when calories are not that welcomed.
You should prepare 20-30 grams of protein each meal and snack for optimal muscle building. When reaching a bulking phase, the food amount you consume will be much higher than when you’re going through a cutting phase. You don't have to change the foods, but pay attention to their portions. If you’re still confused, take a look at a sample of the one-week bodybuilding menu:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms and oatmeal.
Snack: Low-fat cottage cheese with blueberries.
Lunch: Venison burger, white rice, and broccoli.
Snack: Protein shake and a banana.
Dinner: Salmon, quinoa, and asparagus.
Breakfast: Protein pancakes with light-syrup, peanut butter, and raspberries.
Snack: Hard-boiled eggs and an apple.
Lunch: Sirloin steak, sweet potato, and spinach salad with vinaigrette.
Snack: Protein shake and walnuts.
Dinner: Ground turkey and marinara sauce over pasta.
Breakfast: Chicken sausage with egg and roasted potatoes.
Snack: Greek yogurt and almonds.
Lunch: Turkey breast, basmati rice, and mushrooms.
Snack: Protein shake and grapes.
Dinner: Mackerel, brown rice, and salad leaves with vinaigrette.
Breakfast: Ground turkey, egg, cheese, and salsa in a whole-grain tortilla.
Snack: Yogurt with granola.
Lunch: Chicken breast, baked potato, sour cream, and broccoli.
Snack: Protein shake and mixed berries.
Dinner: Stir-fry with chicken, egg, brown rice, broccoli, peas, and carrots.
Breakfast: Blueberries, strawberries, and vanilla Greek yogurt on overnight oats.
Snack: Jerky and mixed nuts.
Lunch: Tilapia fillets with lime juice, black and pinto beans, and seasonal veggies.
Snack: Protein shake and watermelon.
Dinner: Ground beef with corn, brown rice, green peas, and green beans
Breakfast: Ground turkey and egg with corn, bell peppers, cheese, and salsa.
Snack: Can of tuna with crackers.
Lunch: Tilapia fillet, potato wedges, and bell peppers.
Snack: Protein shake and pear.
Dinner: Diced beef with rice, black beans, bell peppers, cheese, and pico de gallo.
Breakfast: Eggs sunny-side up and avocado toast.
Snack: Protein balls and almond butter.
Lunch: Pork tenderloin slices with roasted garlic potatoes and green beans.
Snack: Protein shake and strawberries.
Dinner: Turkey meatballs, marinara sauce, and parmesan cheese over pasta.
Notes To Bear In Mind
To conclude, bodybuilding is a lifestyle combined with plenty of health benefits. However, there are some things to know before doing bodybuilding.
Low Body Fat Results In Bad Sleep And Mood
According to recent research, extremely low body fat levels can negatively influence one's mood and sleep. Competitors in a bodybuilding competition, including both men and women, tried to make a maximal reduction in their body fat. Typically, their levels are 5-10% for men and 10-15% for women.
This low level of body fat, along with the low-calorie intake, has been proved to affect sleep quality, increase sour mood and weaken the immune system in the weeks leading up to a competition and even several weeks after. Consequently, this can decrease your ability to function each day, negatively influence those around you and leave you more susceptible to illness.
Risks of Anabolic Steroid Use
A lot of muscle-building supplements are promoted by bodybuilders who take performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids. As a result, many people have unrealistic faith in achieving a lean body, just like in advertisements. Bodybuilders, especially newbies, will get upset quickly if they can't meet their expectations. Some of them may try anabolic steroids when their body dissatisfaction is too high.
However, anabolic steroids are exceedingly harmful and linked to several risks and side effects. In addition to being illegal to possess in the US without a prescription, using anabolic steroids can increase your risk of heart disease, decrease fertility, and result in psychiatric and behavioral disorders like depression.