Proper bodybuilding nutrition is probably the most vital part in building muscle, possibly up to seventy percent of your muscle building program. You simply must get your muscle building foods right to build a healthy, muscular body.
Nutrition is probably the most complex aspect of bodybuilding. For bodybuilding beginners the macro-nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fats in your daily food intake should take priority over the micro-nutrients such as bodybuilding supplements like creatine, pro-hormones etc.
The bodybuilding foods you eat determine the whether the physiological environment in your body is either predominantly anabolic or catabolic.
- Anabolic foods help you to make steady lean muscle gains over time, requiring little energy to digest but providing high calorific value = good muscle building nutrition.
- Catabolic foods are the opposite, forcing your body to burn more energy metabolising them than the calorific value of the food itself. Good if you want to lose weight, not so good for bodybuilding nutrition.
Protein and Bodybuilding Nutrition
Protein is possibly the most important aspect of bodybuilding nutrition. Proteins are responsible for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. Without sufficient levels a bodybuilder will be fighting a losing battle to gain lean muscle mass. Bodybuilders require significantly more protein than the average / sedentary person, the amount we need being relative to our own individual bodyweight.
One rule of thumb with bodybuilding nutrition is that you should eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. Another approach is to eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight that you’re aiming to weigh, within reason. For example, if you’re 180lbs and want to build up to 200lbs your diet should include 200 grams of protein.
Some bodybuilding nutrition experts aim for 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, which would mean that a 200lb body builder consumes 300g of protein per day. For example, 6 meals containing 50 grams of protein per day. That’s a lot of protein, so start with lower daily amounts of protein first and increase as your bodybuilding workouts become intense.
Good sources of protein in bodybuilding foods can be obtained from lean meats, chicken, turkey, tuna and other fish, eggs, milk and nuts. But to get enough protein you would be well advised to supplement your diet with extra bodybuilding nutrition such as protein bars and especially whey protein.
Whey Protein Bodybuilding Foods
Whey Protein provides a concentrated source of branched chain essential and non-essential amino acids which allow for direct uptake and metabolism by muscle. Protein levels become depleted during bodybuilding workouts. The branched chain amino acids in whey protein fuel rapid muscle tissue repair when taken after a workout. Whey protein helps to develop endurance, build muscle, and reduce muscle deterioration. whey protein has proven to be an essential nutrient for bodybuilders.
Carbohydrates and Bodybuilding Nutrition
Carbohydrates also play a key role in bodybuilding nutrition. Regular carbohydrate consumption provides major benefits for bodybuilding:
- Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred souce of energy to fuel bodybuilding workouts. Carbs are much more easily converted to glucose than proteins or fats. Low carb diets may therefore restrict progress somewhat in bodybuilding.
- Carbohydrates help replenish glycogen stores in the muscles which become depleted through bodybuilding workouts.
- When carbohydrates digested and their sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream, insulin is released to control these blood sugar levels. Insulin has potent anabolic properties. One human study notes insulin’s “marked anabolic effect resulting from a dramatic stimulation of protein synthesis and a modest decline in protein degradation.” And goes on to conclude, “…results demonstrate an effect of high concentrations of insulin to markedly stimulate muscle protein synthesis.”
- Absorption of proteins and other nutrients essential for muscle recovery and growth increases when eaten with carbohydrates, which significantly reduces the onset of physical and mental fatigue.
There are two main varieties of carbohydrates, both essential to a healthy diet; simple fast burning sugars and complex slow burning carbohydrates.
Complex, Slow Burning Carbohydrates as Muscle Building Foods
These provide sustained energy over a long period, the slow release helping to control insulin secretion and prevent unwanted fat storage. These complex carbs should comprise the majority of your carbohydrate intake. Recommended muscle building foods providing complex carbohydrates are brown rice, potatoes, wholemeal breads, wholemeal pasta, oats, etc.
Simple, Fast Burning Sugars as Bodybuilding Foods
Try to restrict simple carbs to first thing in the morning to boost blood sugar and immediately after workouts to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Avoid all kinds of refined sugars. Recommended foods for bodybuilding providing natural simple sugars are most varieties of fresh and dried fruit such as oranges, bananas, prunes, grapefruit. Unrefined honey, preferrably from one hive if you can get it, is an excellent souce of natural, fast burning carbohydrates.
Fats and Bodybuilding Nutrition
Fats yield over twice as much calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins. It’s fairly important to ensure that your fat intake doesn’t represent more than about 20 percent of your total daily calories. As with carbohydrates, fats also can be categorised into two main types; saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated Fats in Muscle Building Foods
Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. These should form the bulk of your fat intake. Healthy sources of unsaturated fats also contain the essential fatty acids omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 which have a wide range of health benefits. For optimal bodybuilding nutrition, recommended food sources are oily fish, especially flaxseed oil (linseed oil), safflower oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil.
Saturated Fats in Bodybuilding Foods
Saturated fats are largely solid at room temperature and can be found on red meat, in butter, cream, cheese, and full fat milk. These fats should be kept to a minimum in any bodybuilding nutrition program.