Diet For Bodybuilding – 7 Essential Foods & Nutrition Advice August 8, 2016

You may be all set to embarking on a journey to build those muscles, but what about your diet? When you are looking to get bulging muscles and six packs, your diet for bodybuilding plays an important role. You can work out as much as you like, but you will not see any result if your diet is not in place.

When you are working out, your body is dependent on the nutrients it gets from the food and supplements you consume. These nutrients and supplements will help achieve massive gains from your bodybuilding regimen. While there are a number of choices when it comes to diet for bodybuilding, you should be looking to divide your diet as follows:

  • Pre-workout nutrition
  • Post-workout nutrition
  • Food you should consume for muscle gain and repair 

Bodybuilding Diet Plan

Pre-workout Nutrition: 

Your pre-workout nutrition is important. It prepares your body for the rigours of the exercises that you do and will help to give you an energy boost.

1. Carbohydrates:

  • While you will hear a lot of debate on bodybuilding forums about consumption of carbohydrates, it should be an integral part of your diet before you work out.
  • You can eat candy bars or mashed potatoes to give your body the carbohydrates it needs, but do it in moderation.
  • It is better to choose complex carbs than simple ones.
  • Carbohydrates are converted to energy that provides you with fuel when you are working out and training.
  • Make sure that every ounce of carbohydrate you consume should be utilized as fuel or help restore glycogen levels in your body. This way, the carbs will not get converted into fat and stored in your body.
  • Do not eat more carbohydrates than you require and you should not be looking to spread them out.
  • Your first two meals of the day should consist of complex carbohydrates, which are present in sweet potatoes or stone-rolled oats.
  • Your first meal, assuming it is breakfast, will provide carbohydrates, which will take a few hours to get digested. This will ensure that your blood sugar levels are right up there and your glycogen levels are optimal before you begin your training.
  • Your second meals with carbs should be consumed an hour or so before your workout.
  • Try to consume about 40g of carbohydrate during that meal. 

2. Fast Absorbing Protein: 

  • Research shows that you should be taking whey protein before your workout, as it produces much better results compared to other forms of protein. This most probably is because of the anti-catabolic action of the whey protein coupled with the anabolic effects that the branch-chained amino acids (BCAAs) produce. Whey protein contains a lot more BCAAs compared to other forms of protein.
  • There are several other benefits of including protein into your pre-workout diet.
  • You will notice an increase in your resting energy usage and the protein also negates the effect of cortisol right through the day.
  • Many people also assume that once the body runs out of carbohydrates to produce fuel, it switches over to using fatty acids. While it does that, the process is very slow and not really useful if you are involved in high-intensity training. In order to provide your body with fuel quickly, it makes use of amino acids circulating in your bloodstream. If there are amino acids, the body scavenges them from your muscles. That is why protein is an important pre-work nutrient. Hence, you should make sure that your body gets the amino acids it needs and they circulate in your bloodstream as a source of fuel when carbs run out. 

3. Creatine Monohydrate:

  • If you are looking to get amazing strength during your workout or aiming for hypertrophy, you should include creatine monohydrate in your pre-workout diet.
  • There are many kinds of creatine in the market, but you should be looking to consume micronized creatine monohydrate, as it is supported by scientific research.
  • Your body uses three different ways of developing ATP, which is a source of energy.
  • The method that your body chooses depends on the intensity of your workout.
  • If you are doing weight lifting, it is the most intense workout and for creating energy, your body will use creatine phosphate.
  • You should be looking to consume about 2 to 5 g of creatine monohydrate on a daily basis and this will give you enough energy to get through an intense workout without experiencing fatigue.
  • You will be able to do more reps and also encourage your muscles to absorb water, giving them a fuller look.
  • When you take creatine is not important, as long as you take it.
  • If you are new to creatine monohydrate, it is advisable to first load your muscles with it. For this, you should be looking to consume about 20 30 g every day for the initial four to five days. 

4. Beta Alanine:

  • You should include beta alanine in your pre-workout nutrition, as it will help conserve the energy in your muscles.
  • During a workout, if you feel fatigued, the reason is acidosis occurring in your muscles.
  • When your body produces energy using phosphagen or glycolytic processes, it produces excessive ions of hydrogen. If these ions are not removed quickly, they combine with pyruvate to form lactic acid. High levels of lactic acid in the muscles can affect your performance adversely and also hinder your skill and coordination.
  • Of course, the body uses L-carnosine to remove the hydrogen ions from your muscles. This amino acid is formed from two other amino acids, namely L-histidine and beta alanine.
  • Besides removing hydrogen ions, L-carnosine also works as a potent antioxidant to neutralize the effects of free radicals in your body.
  • However, for L-carnosine to get formed your body requires beta alanine and that is why you need to supplement it.
  • Ideally, you should be looking to consume about 4 to 5 g of beta alanine.
  • It is best to spread the dosage throughout the day, but make sure you take at least 800 mg just before you begin your workout. 

Post-workout Nutrition: 

Once you finish your workout, you need to consume nutrients to help your body repair the muscles and also recover from the stress of working out.

1. Protein:

  • Your body requires protein for tissue growth as well as repair.
  • As you are constantly breaking down protein, you should ensure that your post-workout diet contains sufficient amounts of it.
  • Typically, you can consume a post-workout protein to ensure that your body has the nutrients required for repairing muscles and hastening recovery and muscular growth.
  • You can easily consume whey protein after your workout and the BCAAs in the protein will metabolize quickly and ensure they are bio-available for your muscles.
  • However, research suggests that you should consume a combination of slow and fast digesting protein, so look to make a cocktail of whey protein and casein.
  • After your workout, consume 40g of mixed protein which is 20g of whey protein and 20g of casein for boosting muscle repair and recovery. 

2. BCAAs:

  • If you are on calorie restriction or you are doing an intensive session of exercise, your muscles will undergo catabolism if your body does not have sufficient amounts of glycogen and sugar. This is where BCAAs becomes extremely important, as they provide the fuel to your muscles.
  • You should consume BCAAs after your workout to ensure there are enough amino acids circulating in your blood.
  • Look to consume about 10g of BCAAs, especially if you are restricting your intake of calories. 

3. Fast Acting Carbohydrates:

  • After a grueling workout, your blood sugar and glycogen levels will be low.
  • Hence, you should look to replenish those levels by consuming fast acting carbs.
  • These are present in bananas, pears, raisins, pasta, potatoes, white rice, blueberries and watermelon. 

Ideal Foods for Bodybuilding: 

After talking about pre- and post-workout nutrition, it is time to get to the essence of your bodybuilding diet. These are foods you should be looking to consume during your meals and without them you will not see that muscle gain that you have been dreaming of.

1. Egg Whites:

Every successful bodybuilder knows the importance of adding egg whites into their bodybuilding diet. With high protein content and low fat content, egg whites are one of the purest forms of proteins you will ever find. They will help to build your muscles, as the protein in egg whites is readily available for protein synthesis. In addition, egg whites contain many vitamins and minerals, but very few carbs.

2. Chicken or Turkey:

If you are serious about gaining muscle, you should be looking to include turkey or chicken breasts in your daily diet. You will get high quality protein through them and the best part is that these lean meats are very low content food options of trans fat and saturated fat.

3. Fish:

While most forums will tell you to avoid fatty foods, fish is an exception. You want to consume fish to enjoy the benefits of essential fatty acids that aid in building your muscle. You should consume fish, like sardine, tuna, salmon and trout, as they contain healthy fats and are good sources of protein.

[ Read: Diet For PCOS Women ]

4. Beans and Legumes:

You will be lost without the fibre and proteins that beans and legumes have to offer. The fibre in these foods ensures regular and healthy bowel movements, and it also ensures the right insulin response by your body. Insulin response is critical for muscle growth, as it ensures your body gets the nutrients it requires for building lean muscle mass.

5. Lean Red Meat:

Lean ground beef and lean cuts of red meat should be your preferred choice if you are looking for foods that spur muscle gain by providing your body with protein, B vitamins, zinc and iron. Also, red meats are high in calories, so they are the ideal choice if you are looking to pack some serious pounds. However, remember that red meats are high in saturated fats, so you should not eat them every day. Try to consume it once a week and on other days look to eat chicken, fish or turkey.

[ Read: Uric Acid Diet ]

6. Slow Burning Carbohydrates:

Remember, your muscles will not build solely with proteins. You also need to include slow burning or complex carbohydrates in your daily diet. These carbs will provide the fuel to your muscles and also help sustain them. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes and lentils contain complex carbs and they should be a part of your bodybuilding diet.

[ Read: Scarsdale Diet ]

7. Water:

Most bodybuilders are obsessed with proteins and other supplements to gain muscle mass quickly. However, they forget the importance of water. Your body is composed of 70 percent water and all your tissues, ligaments and muscles contain water. If you want rippling muscles you should be looking to consume about 10 litres of water every day. This will help your muscles look full and also keep your body in an anabolic state. Water also serves as transport to carry nutrients to your cells and muscles, so that you get the most out of your food and supplements.

If you want pack muscles without an inch of fat, you should be looking to avoid consuming empty calories. Your diet for bodybuilding should contain foods and supplements that aid in muscle building without adding fat to your waist line. Without a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet, your bodybuilding efforts will not see the results you envisaged.

In case you are unfamiliar with the foods and supplements to add in your daily diet, speak to a more seasoned bodybuilder. He or she will mentor you and guide you correctly. Stay away from steroids and other such things, as you will end up inviting many other health problems. Also, if you want to be part of a bodybuilding competition, these drugs will not allow you to participate.

So, look at forming a regular regimen of exercises and supplement along with your diet for bodybuilding.

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  • Melissa Escobedo

    Just a little question… why 10 litres of water per day?