How to Create a Bodybuilding Diet

So, you want to look like a Herculean champion. To get that kind of body, you need to do more than train. You need to eat like a champ, too. Timing, macronutrients, and supplementation are all key components to a bodybuilding diet. Don’t worry, it’s not as regimented as it sounds. Here’s the breakdown for everything you need to know about creating a bodybuilding diet. 

Understanding Macronutrients

In order to build a bodybuilding diet, you must first understand the concept of macronutrients and how they can either make or break your nutrition. 

Understanding Macronutrients

Carbohydrates

Carbs are fuel that break down into sugars when digested. If you don’t eat the required amount of carbohydrates to fuel activity, your body will feel sluggish. If you eat too many carbs, that sugar gets converted to fat. It’s important to find balance. 

Carbs are 4 calories per gram. 

Protein

Protein is the most valuable macronutrient for bodybuilders, because it does more than build muscles. Protein helps repair muscles after a workout, and it can prevent catabolism, or the breakdown of muscles overtime. For bodybuilders, you should aim to eat a gram of protein for every pound that you weigh. If you weigh 180 pounds, then you need 180 grams of protein. Some people who are hard gainers will need a little more protein to help their muscles grow. 

Protein is 4 calories per gram. 

Fat

The body needs fat to survive. In fact, you can’t burn fat without eating it. Though you don’t need as much fat in your bodybuilding diet as you do protein and carbohydrates, fat does deserve a place in your meals. Fat is 9 calories per gram. 

Knowing the above information, you figure out your ideal macronutrient ratio. For those trying to build muscle, you should aim for 30% protein, 10-20% fat, and 60-65% carbohydrates. If you’re trying to cut fat and gain muscle, cut the carb intake to 35% and up your fat and protein intake. 

Determine Caloric Needs

Before you can even start plotting out meals and when to eat, you need to know your daily caloric needs. There is your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the calories you burn just breathing and functioning throughout the day. BMR is generally affected by your activity level, height, weight, and age. A 20 year old lean male is going to burn more calories than a 50 year old moderately active male even if they sit on the couch all day. 

Then, we have your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which looks again at age, weight, and activity level as well as body fat. 

There’s a number of TDEE and BMR calculators online that are very accurate and can help you; but you are going to need to do a body fat measurement first to gain the most correct results from the calculators. You can either do a skin caliper test, or you can use a handheld bio-electrical impedance tool. 

Using the calculation of your TDEE and BMR, you can then figure out the amount of macronutrients you need for your bodybuilding goal. 

Let’s say you get 2600 calories for. You then take the macro ratios from above (30% protein, 50% carbs, and 20% fat) to see how many grams you need of each. 

For example, protein = 0.30 x 2600 = 780 calories / 4 cal = 195 grams 

Figure Out Your Eating Schedule

Figure Out Your Eating Schedule

The best bodies in the world are not built from haphazard nutrition and poorly-timed meals. The standard three-meal plan won’t serve you either. 

If you want to gain muscle, you go eat maintenance level calories. Everyone’s metabolism is different, based on activity level, body fat and lean body mass. Because of this, two people of the same height and weight can be completely different metabolically and well need different diets. 

Based on your needs, here’s a sample meal plan that you can customize: 

Meal 1: Oatmeal, sprouted grain toast, egg whites, 1 egg yolk, 1 banana 
Meal 2: 1 orange, 1 whey protein shake mixed with milk 
Meal 3: 1 serving of broccoli, 3-4oz of chicken breast, baked potato or sweet potato or brown rice 
Meal 4: 1 whey protein shake mixed with water or milk 
Meal 5: 7oz of lean beef, mixed vegetables (carrots, cabbage, green beans, etc), brown rice 
Meal 6: Oatmeal, egg whites and 1 yolk 

Ideally, you want each meal to be around 30-40g of protein, 50-60g of carbohydrates, and no more than 12g of fat. Meal 5 alone would pack in more than 40 grams of protein and about 60 grams of carbohydrates. 

Meals 1, 3, and 5 are generally your bigger meals (larger portions). You can eat smaller meals or drink protein shakes for means 2, 4 and 6. 

The important thing to take away from this sample meal plan is that you are going to want meals that digest quickly before a workout. You will want to eat carbohydrate-rich foods that are low in fat, because fat can slow digestion. After a workout, you can eat a meal or drink a protein shake to shuttle nutrients directly to the muscles that will need repair. 

If you don’t have time to eat meals before a workout, or you have a schedule that doesn’t allow you to eat a meal beforehand, you can use creatine shakes, granola bars, and other options to give yourself some fuel. 

Conclusion

All in all, getting the perfect body is not rocket science, but it does come close! You need to be diligent, especially when it comes to your diet. Training and dieting go hand-in-hand when it comes to bodybuilding. Remember to first calculate your daily caloric needs then figure out how much more you need to put on muscle. From there, it’s all about the timing and the planning! 

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