Nutrition is the single most important factor when it comes to adding muscle. I don't care what anyone says, you could work you're a$$ off in the gym but if your nutrition sucks, you won't gain a single ounce of muscle. This concept of good nutrition has plagued bodybuilders for years and most don't know where to begin. Thankfully, I have come to the rescue.
So then, what is good bodybuilding nutrition? Let's take a closer look.
There are three types of macronutrients. Protein, carbohydrates and fat. To begin, let's go over all three of these.
We've all heard the importance of protein, protein, protein. And yes, it's true. Proteins are composed of amino acids and amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Therefore, protein should be kept high in a bodybuilder's diet. But how much protein should we be eating on a daily basis?
Contrary to popular belief, the amount of protein required for a bodybuilder is nowhere near the amount that the popular fitness magazines and supplement companies are telling you. In fact, the notion of eating two, three or even four grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is completely ridiculous and will do you no good as a bodybuilder. You would be much better off lowering your protein intake to about 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. That's it!
In addition, spread your protein intake into 5-6 small, well balanced meals per day.
The body simply can't absorb huge amounts of protein in one sitting and consuming any extra will not go to muscle growth, it will simply get converted into glucose!
As far as the type of protein; chicken, turkey and fish happen to be my favorite. Some more include eggs, beef, milk, cheese and sausage. For vegans and vegetarians; nuts, seeds, beans, quinoa, soy and some types of vegetables are all great choices.
Protein should account for around 40% of all calories consumed.
Even more important than protein is your carbohydrate consumption and specifically, what types of carbs you are consuming. But what exactly is a carbohydrate?
Well according to dictionary.com, a carb is "Any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose." Have I bored you to death yet with my science yet? Stay with me, it gets better I promise!
To put in simple terms, anything belonging to the grain, fruit or vegetable group can be classified as a carbohydrate.
Now watch out, because I'm gonna throw some more science at you. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex.
Simple carbs digest quickly and enter the blood stream with one intent, to spike insulin!
Now, insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone that attempts to remove the carbohydrates from the bloodstream, since they are rapidly increasing your blood sugar. While insulin does its work at bringing the blood sugar down, guess what happens? The remaining carbohydrates that insulin cannot remove from the bloodstream are stored as fat! That's right, this means every time you eat a cookie, candy or cake, your body is storing fat too!
And let's not forget, insulin also has a direct effect at increasing hunger. So not only will you be storing the remaining carbs as fat in your blood stream, but you will be very hungry again which will most likely result in more fat gain, since you will just eat more food!
Can you say double whammy?
Simple carbs include: Soda pop, fruit juice, most breakfast cereals, most canned fruit, white bread, cookies, candy, cake, etc.
These carbs should be avoided at all times, except in miniscule amounts post workout.
To avoid the insulin roller coaster, forget about simple carbs! Complex carbohydrates have a direct effect at keeping insulin in the bloodstream stabilized, which means no fat gain and no hunger right after you eat. These carbs digest slowly and even if you consume too many of them, they will not be stored as fat since insulin is not high enough in the blood. Remember, insulin is a 'storage hormone'. Starting to get the picture?
Complex carbs include: Oatmeal, brown rice, shredded wheat, whole grain bread, etc.
All fruits & certain types of fibrous vegetables should be included in your diet as well. These vegetables include: broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, etc.
Carbohydrates should account for about 40% of calories in the diet.
Seriously guys, what is with this whole 'low fat diet' fad? And why does everyone have what I call, 'fat fobia'? We should know by now that fat is not the enemy, and fat is absolutely essential to include in your diet if you want to gain muscle fast.
Despite its horrible reputation as being a 'killer', fat is actually the complete opposite! In fact, fat keeps us healthy and protects us from developing various diseases and ailments.
And forget the whole idea of 'good fats and 'bad fats'. The only fat we truly need to avoid is trans fats, since this fat is the only one truly linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and various other diseases. This brings me to my next point, which is exposing the truth about saturated fat & cholesterol.
That's right, even though the government & mainstream media has told us all that saturated fat is evil, it's actually a very healthy fat.
"But Drew, I always thought saturated fat clogged your arteries and led to heart disease".
Look, whoever told you that is lying to your face. But I didn't come here to give you a long discussion about why saturated fat is good for you. If you don't believe me, check out this article on the truth about saturated fat & cholesterol.
Some great sources of fat include: nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, sesame oil, butter, cheese, red meat, beef, sausage, eggs, cheese, etc.
Fat should account for at least 20% of calories in your diet. No less!
So now that you know what types & the amount of food you should be eating, it's now time to answer the golden question, how many calories per day?
To tell you the truth, there is no set amount of calories that you should be consuming each day to build muscle. Everyone is different and therefore different diets will yield different results. For example, a 200 pound man who is 6 feet tall would surely not consume the same amount of calories as a man who is 130 pounds and 5 feet tall. So how do we know how many calories to consume?
Experiment! Instead of following generic '3000 calorie per day' meal plans, figure out exactly how many calories your body needs on a daily basis.
To do this, start small, say 2500 calories per day (enough for the average man) and go from there. If you're not gaining weight with this amount of calories, increase! And if you're gaining too much weight, decrease! It's that simple. The ultimate goal should be to gain one pound per week. No more, no less.
To Sum It Up
Nutrition is the most important aspect when trying to build muscle, and most bodybuilders screw it up. Don't be that bodybuilder! By following the above nutrition tips and following exactly what I have shown you, your nutrition will be spot on and you will be on track to gain rock hard muscle fast. After all, trying to build muscle without good nutrition is like trying to eat spaghetti without any silverware. It doesn't work!
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