In part one of this series of articles we covered how you should train if new to bodybuilding, outlining a training approach that will bring consistent results, while avoiding the pitfall of overtraining. Assuming training is properly implemented, diet then becomes even more important as even the best training program will only work if your diet provides optimum sports nutrition support for your training efforts. Before we can begin to offer advice on what specific diet is best for you, we must first cover some nutrition fundamentals.
Protein is the most important ingredient of a sports nutrition program designed to build muscle and strength. Muscle tissue is built from protein so unless you are consuming sufficient amounts you will never make much progress no matter how solid your training program. At a minimum you should be consuming 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, or 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Even better would be consuming up to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, which will provide the best footing for making rapid progress in the gym. Protein supplements can help with this.
Unlike protein, carbohydrates are not something your body can use to incorporate into its structure. Instead, Carbohydrates are important as a fuel source to power your training efforts. Although there is widespread disagreement on the optimum amount of Carbohydrates, it is best to consume a high amount of carbohydrates early in your training career as they will help ensure more rapid progress than a diet insufficient in carbohydrates. Later, if you decide to diet, you can try lowering carbohydrates, but for rapid muscle mass gains a high carbohydrate diet is recommended. An intake of around 3 grams per pound of bodyweight will result in rapid muscle gains allied to a high protein diet. Try to consume up to 50% of your carbohydrates before and after training. During the post-workout period a drink such as Volu-Gro or Dark Matter is highly recommended to promote muscle growth. Fats There used to be a time when an ultra low fat diet was very much in vogue in bodybuilding, but nowadays it is recognised that fats, especially essential fatty acids, play a very important role both in overall physical health, and in optimising a sports nutrition program. It is recommended to take 3-6 grams of Fish Oils every day as part of your nutrition program. You could also look to incorporate an essential oil blend such as Udo's Choice to provide for a more balanced intake of essential fats. Only by eating an optimum level of fat will you be able to maximise your body's natural testosterone levels, as well as encouraging an environment conducive for muscle and strength gains.
Superfoods - Foods Everyone Should Eat
Having outlined recommended macronutrient intakes it is worth looking at foods whose inclusion in your diet can really help power your training results. These superfoods are all rich in nutrients that make them ideal choices for everyone, whether they are seeking to gain muscle or to lose fat.
Meat of all kinds is high in protein which is the macronutrient essential for muscle growth, and also helps to suppress appetite naturally. Only proper cuts of meat should be incorporated in your diet not junk food such as burgers, sausages, fried chicken, or anything with breadcrumbs. Instead, focus on eating lean cuts of chicken, turkey, beef, or any other meat, avoiding ribs and other very fatty cuts. By basing meals around lean meat you will advance your goals quickly.
All types of fish should be eaten liberally, avoiding anything fried, or battered. A mixture of lean fish such as tuna, and oily fish such as salmon or rainbow trout is best, with the latter providing a natural source of essential fatty acids which can enhance fat loss and overall health.
Dairy products of all kind are very high in protein as well as being low in carbohydrates. Milk, cheese, eggs, and yoghurt should be included in a good diet as they will all provide essential protein but also an array of minerals and vitamins that help to provide your body comprehensive nutritional support.
Fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage, provide a great source of minerals and vitamins, as well as providing fibre and bulk to a diet, making them particularly good choices when you are dieting as they will suppress appetite naturally.
Bringing it all together
No matter whether you are seeking to gain or lose weight, a program centred around the foods listed above, with protein set at 1.5 grams per bodyweight will ensure an adequate supply of protein. Essential fatty acids should be consumed daily. The only real variable that needs to be adjusted, depending on whether you are bulking or dieting is carbohydrate, and overall calorie intake. For someone, looking to gain weight then carbohydrate intake should be increased and the trainee should look to consume around 40 calories per kg of bodyweight. For a 100 kg (220lb) individual, this would mean consuming 4000 calories a day. Once protein (4 calories a gram) and essential fats (9 calories per gram) are taken into account, the bulk of the rest of the calories should come from carbohydrate sources, with some mono-unsaturated and saturated fats okay. Track weight on a weekly basis and aim for a gain of 1lb a week. Any more and you will gain too much fat so trim calorie intake down from 40 calories per kg to 38 calories per kg (4000 to 3800 for our 100kg trainee).
If you do not gain any weight or less than 1lb a week, then you can afford to gain weight a little faster. In this case increase calorie intake to 42 calories per kg (4200 calories for our 100kg friend).
Continue to monitor progress weekly but basically tailor calories up or down slightly if needed to ensure progress remains at 1lb a week.
For someone, looking to maintain bodyweight but maybe get a little leaner, and gain a muscle at the same time, protein and essential fatty acid intake should remain the same as for someone bulking but carbohydrates reduced, as well as non-essential fats. Calorie intake should be set at around 35 calories per kg, so 3500 calories for our 100kg individual. Again, adjust slightly up or down depending on results.
For someone wanting to diet, calories should be set to 30 calories per kg of bodyweight (3000 for someone weighing 100kg). Protein and essential fatty acid intake is as normal. The rest of the calories should come predominantly from fibrous vegetables. Weight loss of 1-2lbs a week is the most anyone should aim for to ensure consistent, long term progress, without excessive muscle loss. Again, if you exceed this figure or are below 1lb of weight loss a week, adjust calories up or down until you hit the sweet spot of losing 1-2lbs a week.
After first working out what you need to eat and then assessing your goals, and whether you need to gain weight or lose it, individuals should begin a training program based on the principles outlined in this article. Allied to a solid training plan, results should come consistently on a weekly basis.