Bodybuilders are a unique lot. These are people who have decided that ordinary will no longer cut it. They believe in embracing challenges and overcoming them. They enjoy the freedoms that optimal health affords them, and it shows in the way they live their life. If you have just joined the community, a better life awaits you.
If you desire to become a bodybuilder, recreational or professional, you must eat like one. Lifting weights does not give you the right to eat whatever you want. If anything, it makes you become more selective with your food choices.
Your end goals are the guiding compass that helps you build the right meal plan. The most consistent goal for beginners is lean muscle mass gain. For that you need to eat smaller more frequent meals to meet your new caloric requirements.
You needn’t start counting the calories when you begin. The process can be overwhelming, and until you determine how many calories your body uses up, it will be an equation that will be hard to decipher. That said, you should aim for a calorie surplus, to ensure the body has enough to work with.
Your meals should consist of protein, carbohydrates and fats. The ideal split is 30/50/20. Carbohydrates make up the bulk as they provide energy for workouts, and help with protein utilization. The split should only be revised once the goals change. A 40/40/20 split can be used if fat gains become more significant.
For these three food groups, the selection of available choices is elaborate. Some of these include
- Protein – Lean beef, low fat dairy, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, soya, beans and protein supplements
- Carbohydrate – Vegetables and fruits, oatmeal, non-white breads, potatoes, cereals and carbohydrate powders
- Fats – Virgin olive oil, salad dressing, fish oil, flaxseed, sesame, avocado
Your meal plans should be aimed at meeting your macros. This allows you more freedom in what you eat, since it seeks to balance your calorie intake with what is required.
If you are in the bulking phase, and want a diet plan that coincides with your goal, you should take at 1.2g/lb of protein, 0.3g/lb of fats and fill up the remaining calories with carbohydrates. A sample meal plan looks like this:
- 8AM – 1 serving whey, 1 serving casein, 3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites and 2 cups of oatmeal.
- 10AM – 1 cup quinoa, 1 serving casein, 2tbsps peanut butter
- 1PM – 1 cup brown rice, 6 0z chicken breast
- Pre-workout – 1 serving of whey protein, 1 cup oatmeal
- Post-workout – 1 serving whey, 1 serving casein
- 7PM – 300g steak, 200g sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables
- 10PM – 1 oz almonds
If you are on a cutting diet, there should be a decrease in carbohydrate intake, while protein and fats remain constant. Ideally, 1.4g/lb protein, 55g of fats, and around 230g of carbohydrates should do. A sample diet looks like this:
- Morning – 2 slices whole wheat bread, 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg, green tea
- Midmorning – 1 serving whey, 2tbspns peanut butter
- Lunch – 200g sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables
- Pre-workout – 200g salmon, whole grains, 1 serving BCAAs
- Post-workout – 1 serving whey, 2g Glutamine
- 2 hours after workout -200g steak, baked potatoes
- 4 hours after workout – Skim milk, assorted vegetables
- Pre-bed – ½ serving casein, 1 oz almonds
This is typically what a cutting diet looks like. You should adjust the quantities to fit your macros. Remember when looking to cut, your diet plays a more critical role.
As a budding bodybuilder, you should endeavor to find out the kind of diet that works best with your body. Good luck!
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