Diet is the single most important aspect of bodybuilding, and, it’s where those who don’t put the effort in, or don’t have the knowledge to put together a good diet plan fail. Cries of ‘I’ve tried bodybuilding, it’s impossible!’ abound, and all because the key factor was either overlooked, misunderstood, or simply not stuck to.
First things first: without eating more calories than you need, you won’t grow at all. You won’t put fat on, you won’t put muscle on, you won’t put any bodily mass on whatsoever.
Each and every day you need to eat more calories than your body needs, in order to grow muscle. By training well, your muscles will be crying out for calories to grow – so the amount of fat you put on will be substantially less than someone who is stationary and overeating. Just don’t overdo it. Try to aim for no more than 1-1.5lb in additional bodyweight per week, and you can be sure the majority is coming from muscle mass rather than fat.
Secondly, you need to ensure your diet contains the correct macronutrients in reasonably good ratios. Protein, carbohydrates and fats are your macronutrients. To make the best of it, you need a good mix of al 3. Splits are usually anything from 33% protein 33% carbs and 33% fats to 50% protein 25% carbs and 25% fats. It’s really up to you to try things out and see what you get desirable results from.
Try to get around 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. This helps to keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance which is crucial for muscle growth.
The best proteins are: eggs, milk, fish, beef and cheese.
Complex carbohydrates play very important roles also. You need complex carbs to repair your muscle, and also fuel you workouts. For this reason, the majority of your carb intake for the day should be an hour before your workout (pre workout) and also an hour after your workout (post workout). This ensures you have the energy to train your hardest, and also gives you a boost of energy to start the recovery process off quickly afterwards.
Try to limit carb intake the rest of the day, particularly before bed… too many carbs, particularly at the wrong times, will put you at increased risk of putting on fat.
The best complex carbs are: potato, brown rice, and pasta.
Healthy fats are also very important, as they are needed to enhance testosterone production and release, also vital for muscle growth. Not only that, but healthy dietary fats are important for everyday functions of the body – so don’t expect to cut them out and a: be healthy, and b: gain muscle – you won’t. Dietary fats which come from meat, eggs and milk are all good – and supplementing with fish oil or flax seed oil is also an option.
Meals should be eaten every 3 hours, with careful attention to include protein each time. This prevents your nitrogen balance from deteriorating, and keeps a steady flow of manageable nutrients (i.e.: not too many to overwhelm the system) coming into the body.