In the previous post we touched on choosing the right exercises, along with avoiding over training. But now we will take a deeper look into the nutrition side of things. As much as you want to stimulate muscle growth inside the gym, you need to compliment that with providing your body with the right amount of nutrients to fully recover and see that body ultimately GROW. Below, you’ll find some simple yet effective points to keep in mind when designing your bodybuilder meal plan. Keep in mind that every body truly is different and it may take some trial and error to find out what works best for you.
I will try to keep this simple. In order for your muscles to fully recover, you will need to consume something called food. (:P) More specifically, you will need good amounts of protein (super important), carbohydrates (preferably complex as opposed to simple, but we’ll get into that at a later time), and fats. These three components are collectively known as macro nutrients, and without sufficient amounts of each, you will most likely not see the results you are looking for. Each play specific roles in our bodies and cannot be neglected. While you will come across many types of diets on the web, we will just be going over the very basics hear to get you started, and will dive further as we become more advanced with our training and development.
All About Those Calories
You hear the word all the time. Calories. But what exactly are they? A calorie is defined as a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1,000 grams of water by one degree Celsius. This unit is used as a measure of the energy released by food as it is digested by the human body. Confused? Haha I thought so. Fortunately for us, what we need to know is much simpler than this.
Our bodies require a certain number of calories to go on about our everyday lives and for them to perform their daily duties internally. This is based predominately on our body weight and activity levels, among other things. With regard to bulking up, all you need to remember is that for every 3,500 calories consumed above your body’s maintenance level, you should gain one pound. Sound simple? Or complicated? Let’s break it down quickly. Let’s say a man weighing 150 pounds requires 2,000 calories a day just to maintain his current weight.
If this same man wants to add one pound of body weight, he would consume an extra 500 calories a day for seven days, equaling 3,500 extra calories for that week. Hypothetically, he should gain one pound after those seven days. The same can be reversed. If he wanted to lose one pound, he would lower his calorie intake daily from 2,000 to 1,500. After those seven days, he should be down one pound.
Now don’t be that person who takes this information and goes to the extreme with it, trying to consume 10,000 calories in one day. Just as with the weights in the gym, you’ll want to increase these gradually over time. This will hep ensure you are packing on more muscle mass and less body fat. To get an idea of how many calories would be your personal maintenance level, google calorie calculator, and you should have no problem figuring it out.
Protein is King
Once you’ve figured out how many calories to shoot for, you’ll want to get an idea of how much protein you should be consuming to maximize results. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of essentially everything in our bodies. They are absolutely essential in building up strong, dense muscle mass. While there is a lot of different opinions on this, I’ve personally found that at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight seems to be an effective starting point. So, if that 150 pound man from earlier wanted to bulk up, he should be consuming at least 150 grams of protein spread evenly throughout the day. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories, so in this case he would be consuming about 600 calories from protein alone. Some examples of high protein foods would be eggs, meats (beef, pork, chicken, etc.), and fish.
Carbohydrates and Fats
Don’t forget about these two macros. You can only consume so much protein throughout the day. You’ll want to round out your diet plan with good sources of both carbs and fats. One carbohydrate, along with protein as mentioned before, contains 4 calories per gram. So if you were to consume 300 grams of carbohydrates per day, that would equal 1200 calories. Fat, on the other hand, contains 9 calories per gram, making it the most calorically dense macro nutrient.
Some great carb sources to consider would be foods like oatmeal, potatoes, breads and pastas. Foods containing good fats would be fish, nuts and legumes, along with oils like olive or coconut, among others.
Feel Free to Experiment
I am in no way telling you what to eat or how to eat it. I am simply giving some guidance or recommendations you may want to play with. The fun part about bulking up is that you don’t have to be super strict when it comes to the foods you eat. While you obviously don’t want to be chowing down on fried chicken and doughnuts all day, a little dessert here and there won’t be the worst thing for you. Just be sure to pair that with some high quality protein, some good carb sources and some healthy fats, and you’ll see that scale slowly creep up 🙂