Nutritional Guidelines for your Bodybuilding Diet Plan
Are you reaching for that doughnut instead of the apple more often than not? Does the doctor say you need to shed a bit of weight? Perhaps you simply want to lose a bit of fat in order to get beach ready. Whatever the case may be, a healthy diet is something that’s important for everyone.
Excuses are pretty common when it comes to making bad dietary selections. However, the truth is that it’s okay to make an unhealthy choice or two every so often. The key is to make healthy choices most of the time.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Nutrition is very important. If you don’t eat right, you won’t reach your goals no matter how hard you exercise. Nutrition is much simpler than many believe. A proper nutrition program should be well balanced, which means eating a variety of foods from all four food groups every day. This would mean a daily intake of:
1) Four servings of fruits and vegetables
2) Four servings of cereals and grains
3) Two servings of meat, fish and poultry
4) Two servings of milk and dairy products
Your should have natural and healthy carbohydrates as 60 percent of your calorie intake, with 25 percent high quality protein and 15 percent healthy fats. Also, keep in mind that calories aren’t all the same. For example, 300 calories from fruit is not the same as 300 from a single slice of cake. Specifically, the effects on the body are different in terms of digestion. This is due to the different types of chemical compositions that are found in the each type of food.
My personal experience is if I consume 3000 calories of “clean” food versus 300 calories from “junk” food, all other things being equal (workout duration, cardio, and recuperation) my body responds many times better on the clean food. Your body will always function better if your daily calories come from “clean” wholesome foods, prepared as close to their natural state as possible. Think about it. All that sugar and fat (unclean food) going down your throat is like pouring mud down your bathroom sink and expecting the drain to work right.
Eating “clean” does not mean:
High fat foods
Deep fried anything
Regular salad dressings or mayonnaise
Any food that is high in fat, sugar or salt
Another thing about carbs is that when you take them in, they are converted to what is known as glucose. The glucose is then utilized to produce energy. For consistent levels of energy, complex carbs, such as brown rice, are your best choice. Carbs with starch on the other hand can lead to too much glucose which can ultimately result in a crash.
Keep in mind that not all fat is equal. Unhealthy trans fat and saturated fat should be avoided. However, some healthy types are necessary. Avocados and fish oil are two examples of good types of fat. What’s more is that a diet with limited fat levels reduces your risk for heart disease and may help you lose weight. In addition, you should limit the amount of cholesterol in your diet. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in animal products such as meat and eggs. Your diet should include no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day (one egg contains about 215 milligrams of cholesterol, and 3.5 ounces of cooked hamburger contain 100 milligrams of cholesterol).
Nutrition to Lose Fat
The fact is that losing weight isn’t always piece of cake (pun intended). It can take a lot of dedication and hard work. Before we go any further, let’s clear up two common questions:
1. Is calorie counting necessary?
2. Is healthy food expensive?
No, it’s not necessary to count calories all of the time. And yes, healthy food tends to be more expensive, but you must consider the health factor that you’ll gain from it as a trade-off. If you are looking to lose fat, you need to take in less calories then your body burns in a day. There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so if you wanted to lose a pound of fat per week you would have to eat at least 500 calories a day less then your maintenance level of calories.
If you are not getting leaner, then you need to decrease your calorie intake (through physical activity such as exercise, consuming lower calorie foods, etc.). This makes the body turn to its fat stores for the extra needed energy. Note though that if you’re working out to build muscle and get stronger, it will be difficult to achieve this while attempting to shed fat too. These type of workouts use up a lot of calories.
Nutrition to Gain Muscle
If you are looking to gain muscle, you need to take in more calories than your body burns in a day. There are 600 calories in a pound of muscle, so if you wanted to gain 10 pounds of muscle in the next 3 to 6 months you would have to eat at least an extra 6000 calories over and above your maintenance level over that period of time. If you are training and getting stronger but not getting bigger, you need to increase your calorie intake.
The Best Nutrition Tips
1. Drink enough water. The body is at minimum, 67% water; therefore we need quite a bit of this valuable resource throughout the day. Water flows throughout your body, piping through to keep everything functioning 100%. It helps to regenerate muscle cells, and removes all the toxins coming in and out of your body on a daily basis. Plus, did you know that dehydration causes you to eat too much? Believe it or not, many people reach for food when in reality, they simply need more water. Therefore, it’s important to know when you’re legitimately hungry, such as after exercise. What’s more is that once you get in the habit of consuming healthy foods and drinks, like water, you’ll actually begin to want them more often and your body will function better. Get at least 8 to 10 glasses, 8 ounces each, of water or water-based beverages, a day. You need more water if you exercise a lot.
2. Don’t eat too much or too little. Too much of anything is not healthy. Many bodybuilders in their quest for a muscular physique tend to overeat thinking these calories will all end up as newfound muscle tissue. Think again. To lose fat and build (or maintain)muscle you need to do cardio, and take in the exact ratio of protein, carbs and fat, this is right for your body. To keep all your hard earned muscle, you need high quality protein, on a regular basis. To have high energy levels to train hard you need quality carbs. You need healthy fats for general health, and to burn body-fat. Under eating will make it next to impossible to build muscle, and may also make it harder to lose body-fat. The key is balance. You need enough quality nutrients for muscularity, but they need not be in excess.
3. Get enough protein. Protein is the king for building muscle and recovery. If it is to come from food sources, it should be kept lean and low in cholesterol. Egg whites, skim milk, fish, chicken (white meat), lean steak, sirloin, lean cuts of pork, and of course whey protein (preferably an isolate or blended whey with isolate as its main ingredient) are good choices. These foods are “clean” protein sources that are healthy and can be consumed on a daily basis. By ingesting 1 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, divided over 5 – 6 meals, the uptake of amino acids will be an easy task for your muscles.
4. Take supplements. With all the potential shortcomings in our diet and training, supplements help to round them out. Many “old-school” bodybuilders follow the misconception that supplements are a hassle, expensive and overwhelmingly confusing. Supplements can save you money and time substituting for the large variety of food that you would need to ingest to attain the same array of nutrients. Weight training and other physical activity drain your body of vital nutrients. Providing your body with protein, vitamins and other supplements spurs muscle growth and fat loss. A multivitamin, quality protein powder, micronized glutamine, creatine and nitric oxide stimulator could exponentially aid in recuperation, training and intensity.
Bodybuilders and other athletes are notorious for overlooking vitamins and minerals simply because these nutrients don’t create a noticeable difference in their physique or training, like something such as creatine would. This doesn’t mean these nutrients aren’t integral to building muscle. Without enough of these key nutrients, muscle mass would decay, bones would become brittle, and all the basic functions of the body would begin to deteriorate. Proper supplementation is often what the “average” weight trainer is missing that is preventing them from realizing better results.
5. Cheat meals are OK. If you totally ban doughnuts, you’re more likely to want them even more, right? The bottom line is that it’s OK to indulge or cheat sometimes as long as it isn’t often and excessive. What’s truly important is that you make a habit of choosing the healthy options more often than the unhealthy ones. Just remember that eating is ultimately about fueling your body, which can help you reach your goals for weight loss, muscle gain, and so forth.
6. Fresh is best. When it comes to what you consume, the fresher, the better. Try to get it directly from the farm if possible. Stay away from food that’s processed, frozen, and made with preservatives (this includes fast food restaurants). Raw and fresh fruits and vegetables have live food enzymes. These enzymes are the life force of the food. They unlock important nutrients and assist in the digestion and absorption of foods. The simplest way to understand this is to notice what happens to a piece of fruit as it ripens. Once it has over-ripened, the food enzymes go to work to “break it down” as it decomposes. Foods with enzymes in them help you digest them better and therefore, improve the absorption of their nutrients. Think of it like this: what you choose to put in your body shows on the outside too.
Many bodybuilding diet plans do not incorporate enough fruits and vegetables into them and as a result, lack the vital nutrients that your body (and muscles) needs to achieve total health. Did you know there are at least four great reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables?
1) It is easy to do.
2) Almost all are low in calories and fat.
3) They are a good source of vitamins and minerals and provide fiber.
4) They may help reduce cancer risk.
Here are some ways that you can use them in your bodybuilding diet to remain healthy and fit. You can utilize two or three ways now and try more later.
* Buy many kinds of fruits and vegetables when you shop, so you have plenty of choices, and you don’t run out.
* First, use the fruits and vegetables that go bad easily (peaches, asparagus). Save hardier varieties (apples, acorn squash) or frozen and canned types for later in the week.
* Use the salad bar to buy cut-up fruits/vegetables if you’re in a hurry.
* Keep a fruit bowl, small packs of applesauce, raisins or other dried fruit on the kitchen counter, table, or in the office.
* Pack a piece of fruit or some cut-up vegetables in your briefcase or backpack; carry moist towelettes for easy cleanup.
* Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables on the top shelf of the refrigerator.
* Add fruit to breakfast by drinking 6 oz of 100 percent fruit juice or by having fruit on cereal.
* Add fruits and vegetables to lunch by having them in soup, salad, or cut-up raw.
* Add fruits and vegetables to dinner by microwaving or steaming vegetables and having a special fruit desert.
* Increase portions when you serve vegetables and fruits. Season them the low-fat way with herbs, spices, and lemon juice. If sauce is used, choose a nonfat or low-fat sauce.
* Choose fruit for dessert. For a special dessert, try a fruit parfait with low-fat yogurt or sherbet topped with berries.
* Add extra varieties of vegetables when you prepare soups, sauces, and casseroles (for example, grate carrot and zucchini into spaghetti sauce.
7. Limit sugar. Specifically, try to stay away from starches that are processed, such as white bread, and products that contain refined sugars. These types of food have been linked to weight gain and even obesity. Instead, opt for natural sugars found in fruit.
8. Have smaller portions more frequently during the day. Doing this helps keep your blood sugar levels stable and as a result, you’ll be able to increase your energy levels which will help you burn unwanted fat. Remember to keep your meals balanced with carbohydrates, proteins and essential healthy fats.
9. Don’t forget about fiber (a daily fiber intake of 20 to 30 grams). Adequate fiber helps with proper bowel function. If you were to eat 1 cup of bran cereal, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 cup of kidney beans, a medium-sized pear, and a medium-sized apple together in 1 day, you would get about 30 grams of fiber.
6 Healthy Muscle Meals
Finding effective bodybuilding diet plans that promote muscle growth is hard to find. While the meals below are just a small sample of the universe of muscle meals, they will help you begin to think about incorporating the right types of meals into muscle and fitness regimen. The advice below them is equally important.
Oatmeal or shredded wheat w/milk
2-6 Eggs – use 1/2 yolks
2 Slices of Whole grain toast
8-12 ounces milk
1/2 – 1 banana
1-2 scoops protein powder
Lean Red meat
Baked potato or rice
8-12 ounces of milk
1-2 cans of Tuna
2-4 slices whole grain bread
Lite or no-fat mayonnaise
8-12 ounces milk
Large plate of pasta
3-4 ounces lean ground beef
small salad w/oil and vinegar dressing
8-12 ounces of milk
Lean red meat or chicken
1-3 baked potatoes
1 serving of mixed vegetables
8-12 ounces of milk
This diet will provide roughly between 3500-5500 calories depending on the size of the portions. You may need to adjust the calories upwards or downwards, depending on your present condition. Here are some general guidelines:
To lower calories:
1) Utilize smaller portions
2) Increase fibrous carbohydrates while decreasing starchy carbohydrates
3) Eat less red meat
To increase calories:
1) Eat slightly larger portions
2) Use a weight gain supplement instead of protein powder
3) Use 2% or whole milk
We cannot stress enough the importance of being as consistent as possible about your diet. Do not skip meals or eat poorly.
The Takeaway on Healthier Eating
Eating healthy and being healthy go hand in hand so to speak. You can’t really have one without the other. Remember that it shouldn’t really be about calorie counting and restrictions. Instead, it should be about making better choices overall, such as choosing to eat balanced meals that include healthy fats, an adequate amount of protein, and the right carbs.
It doesn’t take much to live a healthy lifestyle; simply make smarter choices on a daily basis. We all have people that care about us so take the time to show them that you care about yourself as well. Make an effort to follow the tips mentioned in this article most of the time and you’ll be on your way to a healthier you.
The basic tenets stated are often overlooked and worth mentioning. To learn more about proper nutrition during your bodybuilding workouts, visit the StackLabs.com Blog.
Which of the tips did you find most helpful and why?