Building muscle mass depends in 50% from the proper training. Another 50% is the food that we eat also called nutrition or diet. Some people say it’s 100% the training and 100% the diet and I agree with that. Without one of the above factors it’s highly unlikely we’ll be successful in bodybuilding or our progress will be very slow.
First rule says: ‘If you want to get big you have to eat big’ but this is only half of the story.
We can divide the food into few groups:
Our theme is ‘Making Bodybuilding Simple’ therefore I’ll try to describe everything as easy as I can. Don’t want to put much science into it, HOW2GETBIG is not about that.
Carbohydrates also called carbs or sugars are used by our muscles as a fuel or energy. They stimulate body to produce insulin – the most powerful anabolic hormone. List of food containing carbs:
- Grains (rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, cous cous);
- Fruit and honey (bananas, apples ,oranges, pineapple …);
- Pastas (spaghetti, macaroni, penne, etc…);
- Starchy vegetables (white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, corn…);
- Breads (bread, baps, tortillas, wraps, baguettes);
- Dairy products (milk, yoghurt);
- Sugar and its products and other junk food (sweets, sodas, chocolate bars, cakes, etc…).
Carbs also fill up our muscles along with water what makes them look bigger and fuller. They are the most important ingredient in building muscle mass and the best source of energy for our body. We wouldn’t grow without them.
Our body use protein as a building material for muscles. They are like a bricks in a house. We couldn’t build bigger body without them either. We can find them mostly in animal products:
- Meat (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork…),
- Fish (cod, tuna, salmon, mackerel…);
- Dairy (milk, cottage cheese, greek yogurt…);
Proteins also exist in beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds. These ones come from plants and are very healthy however not as valuable as animal sources of this substance.
Fats or fatty acids are another great source of energy and are essential in the production of anabolic hormones and general physical and mental health. It’s very important ingredient of any healthy diet, not only for athletes. Sources of fats:
- Oils (olive, coconut, rapeseed, sunflower, etc.);
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts…);
- Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax-seed…),
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines…),
- Meat (poultry skin, high fat parts of meat, bacon, lard, etc.),
- Diary (milk, cream, cheese, butter, egg yolk…),
- Junk food (chips, crisps, nuggets, doughnuts, cakes, cookies, margarine).
Besides health benefits fats have high content of calories and therefore are very helpful in building bigger body. Hardgainers can really benefit from eating extra portions of nuts, peanut butter, olive oil or fish. This will help them to gain weight.
Natural fats are the best for us especially those that come from plants. Artificial fats – coming from fast food, crisps or margarine for example are harmful and can cause fat gain. Try to minimise the consumption of them.
Water is probably the best anabolic we can get. It’s essential. Every human’s cell is built in nearly 70% of water. We are water. We need it more than food. It builds our muscles and fills them up. You’ll not grow without it. Try to drink even up to 4 litres per day.
Drink water with your meals and between. Drink it during your workout and keep a bottle next to your bed if you are thirsty at night.
5. Vitamins and minerals
I think it’s the most overlooked ingredient of bodybuilding diet. Vitamins and minerals are responsible for all processes in brain, nerves, muscles and really the whole body. Deficiency in any of them can cause serious sickness. Because athletes train really hard they use more of these nutrients than any other mortal man. So it’s essential to provide enough food containing vitamins and minerals if we want to be fast, strong, confident, good looking and of course big. They exist in nearly every type of food on this planet but mainly in natural and not processed, however products very rich in these nutrients are mostly fruits and vegetables, especially raw:
- Lettuce, cabbage, kale…;
- Tomatoes, peppers, onions…;
- Beetroots, carrots, parsnips…;
- Apples, pineapples, bananas, kiwis…
I’m not going to list here all fruits and veggies. Hope you know them. Add vegetables to your meals in a form of salads and eat some fruits in-between as a snack or a dessert. Because it’s very difficult to provide enough of vitamins and minerals from your food, especially if you are a bodybuilder you can buy some multivitamins.
How much to eat
If you don’t like counting macros simply buy yourself a bigger plate and use it for every meal. Fill half of it with carbohydrates like rice, pasta or potatoes for example and half with proteins like fish, meat or eggs. Top it up with olive oil or seeds or some other source of fats.
If you are the one who prefers to know exactly how much to consume, here are the proportions:
|per pound of bodyweight||per kilogram of bodyweight|
|2 grams of carbs||4 grams of carbs|
|1 gram of protein||2 grams of protein|
|0.5 gram of fat (minimum)||1 gram of fat (minimum)|
So 200 lbs. or 100 kg man should eat each day about:
- 400g of carbohydrates
- 200g of protein,
- 100g of fat
Remember to include some salads and fruit in your menu. It’s not possible to say how much to eat of them exactly.
If you want to build lean muscle mass, with minimum of fat, you should eat clean – mostly natural food and avoid processed products like fast-food, sweets, crisps, doughnuts, etc.
Here are some examples of meals designed for athletes who want to get bigger – increase their muscle mass:
- oats with honey, 3-5 fried eggs, can of beans, water
- oatmeal, cottage cheese, banana, glass of water
- sandwich with ham (double portion), tomato & lettuce some olive oil, water
- sandwich with turkey, tomato & lettuce some olive oil, water
- rice, chicken breast, broccoli, water
- rice, salmon, cauliflower, water
- potatoes, steak, vegetables, water
- potatoes, beef burgers, vegetables, water
- pasta, can of tuna, spoon of olive oil, salad, water
- baguette, can of tuna, spoon of olive oil, sweetcorn, water.
Snacks between meals: nuts and fruits.
I’ve prepared 3 sample muscle building meal plans for you. If you like them you can download, print and attach them to your fridge. Here is full Grocery Shopping List. Pick food that you like. Remember to include proteins in every meal and some healthy fats as well.
If you want to get big you must:
- eat more that you are eating now (get yourself a bigger plate),
- eat even 6 meals a day (every 2-3 hours),
- fill half of your plate with carbohydrates like oats, rice, pasta or potatoes,
- fill other half with proteins like eggs, beef, chicken breast or fish,
- include some fats in a form of olive oil, peanut butter, nuts and seeds,
- drink water with every meal and between, during workout and at night,
- remember about salads, fruits and vegetables, they are essential.
Your meals should consist of around 50% carbs, 30% proteins and 20% of fats. You have to eat much more that you used to eat before. Focus on proteins. Sleep much, train hard and at the weekends try to do as little as possible to not burn too many calories.
Always read the label. Nobody will do it for you. On the beginning nutrition might sound confusing and hard to remember but this is a part of bodybuilding you have to get familiar with because at the end success in this and any other sport depends very much from it.