Ok, so you want to get huge?! You get into the gym, pound weights till you have a big red head, go home and that’s it, you maybe think that all you have to do. Pump the weights. If only it was that simple.
Nutrition plays a very large part of recovery and growth. Without both you won’t put muscle on. Bodybuilding diets are constantly changing due to the increase of your muscle mass; if you put muscle on you have to eat more, if you lose muscle you need to eat less. So how do you keep an eye on what is happening inside the body?
Well, you have two means that would work. The first is the good old scales that sit gathering dust in the bathroom; you should monitor your weight to see if your goal to put muscle on is causing an increase in bodyweight. If the scales show that weight are staying the same or going down then its time to look at the diet and eat more. If the weight is going up then is it muscle? or is the stomach getting bigger? If it’s the stomach getting bigger then you are eating too much. But be cautious, you can expect to put some bodyfat on when trying to put muscle on, but you want to monitor that the dreaded fat isn’t going on to much.
Another good method of checking which is going up, muscle or fat is to use a set of body fat calipers. By using the calipers every two weeks that will show exactly what is happening, if muscle is going down due to not eating enough then that will show with the calipers and you will need to eat more. If the calipers show that bodyfat percentage is going up then you need to eat less. All good gyms will have a set of calipers and as long as the same person does the measurements every time you should be able to get a true reading as to what exactly is happening. Once you have obtained the amount of total millimeters and your bodyweight, the chart that comes with the calipers will show what bodyfat percentage you are. Now comes the clever bit. If you take your bodyweight in pounds and times it by the bodyfat percentage then that will come out with your total bodyfat. Then take this figure from the total bodyweight and that will give you a figure for your fat free mass. The figure is not all muscle but includes internal organs, bones etc. but just use the figure as muscle for our calculations.
The two figures you have just worked out, the total bodyfat and fat free mass, should be written down and kept. Then next time you have the measurements done you will see if the bodyfat percentage has gone up. But more importantly has the total fat stayed the same or gone down?. Has the fat free mass gone up? Which is what we want, or gone down, which we don’t want. You will find that if your food intake is right then with your exercise and nutrition the fat free mass will go up and the total bodyfat will go down. But if your not eating enough then you will find that the fat free mass (muscle) is going down and the bodyfat will go up - not what you want!
Example of calculations of bodyfat, and fat free mass, using the weight as 200lb, and a bodyfat percentage of 21%.
|Bodyfat Calculations Example|
Step1. Bodyweight x bodyfat percentage = lb bodyfat.
(200 x 0.21 = 42 lb bodyfat)
|Step2. Bodyweight – 42 = fat free mass (200 – 42 = 158) (This figure is the total amount of fat free mass).|
|So now we know...|
|Fat Free Mass:||158lbs|
The next time you have the bodyfat percentage done ideally, you want to see that the fat free mass has gone up and the total bodyfat has stayed the same or has gone down. That is the ideal situation. But sometimes it doesn’t happen and the fat has gone up and the fat free mass has gone down. The reason that the fat free mass goes down is that possibly you are losing muscle which you are not eating enough food for the amount of work/training you are doing.
Ok, I hear you saying, what if I train at home? Well in this situation we can use the old favorites, a set of scales and the mirror. You know, the one you use to admire yourself in!
The bathroom scales should show an increase in your bodyweight, if it's not going up then your not eating enough. If the mirror is showing an increase of bodyfat around the middle then you are eating too much.
So how do we set about setting a nutrition plan for ourselves? Firstly we need to know how many calories we should eat in a day, on top of the calories required for our body at rest we need to add into the diet calories we expend on daily activities and our training.
Use This Calculator to work out your calories per day. As a basic starting point, we use a ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats (PCF) of 30% protein, 50% carbohydrates and 20% fats. Remember that protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, fat contain 9 calories per gram.
An example: The calculator has given us a value of 2900 calories per day, so use the following calculation to find the PCF ratio:
- Protein: 30% of 2900 = 870 calories / 4 = 217.5g per day.
- Carbohydrates: 50% of 2900 = 1450 calories / 4 calories = 362.5g per day.
- Fat: 20% of 2900 = 580 calories / 9 = 64.4g per day.
So now you know exactly how much food you require per day. Now you will need to find out how much food you require (approx) per meal. You should be using frequent feedings and as such should divide the grams of food given above into as many meals per day as you can fit in, usually between 5-8 meals per day.
So to work the above amount of grams of food per day you use the following calculation:
- Total meals required per day 6. (Figures rounded off)
- Protein: 217.5g / 6 = 36g of protein per meal x 6
- Carbohydrates: 362.5g / 6 = 60g of carbohydrates per meal x 6
- Fat: 64.4g / 5* = 13g of fat per meal x 5*
* Note: In the after training meal you want the nutrients to be digested quickly and fat delays the digestion of the meal, so fat is omitted in this meal only.
Below are listings of the best foods for our nutrition plan, and for our recovery and growth from training. The amounts have been put as per ounce (28g) of each food for easier calculation.
So to work out a meal you have to look at the lists given below and choose what foods you want to use in a particular meal to give you the amounts required per meal.
Example: Evening meal.
(Requirements, protein 36g, Carbohydrates 60g, Fat 13g)
|Beef (sirloin grilled) 3oz||27.9||0.0||8.4|
|Brown rice (cooked)6oz||4.2||38.4||1.2|
|Carrot (2 large)||2.0||14||1.2|
|Green beans (2oz)||1.0||4.0||0.0|
So you can see by the above meal that you are very close to the total amount that is required per meal, you can have larger meals for the main meals like breakfast, lunch and evening meal, and smaller meals for mid morning, mid afternoon, and supper time.
Use the charts below to calculate your meals for your given calculations, you will find that after you have done it a couple of times how easy it is, and you will also get to know what the portion size you require for that given amount of food.
Once you have your food sorted out, give the plan two weeks for the body to adapt to your new eating plan. Then if...
- You're not gaining weight. Eat twice the amount of carbs and 1.5 times as much protein at two of your meals per day.
- You're gaining weight, but its as much fat as it is muscle. Eliminate carbs at your last two meals of the day, (excluding your post workout meal.
- You're gaining weight and losing bodyfat. Follow the directions in rule (1) above at every meal.
- You did fine at first, but now your bodyfat has increased. Halve your carbs at your last two meals. If the bodyfat falls in two weeks, increase your carbs.
Best Foods For Muscle Building
Below is a list of the best bodybuilding foods and their macronutrient profiles, with the information below you can build a diet based on your own particular goals, mass building, getting lean, or just basic maintenance of your diet.
Meat, Fish, Poultry. (per ounce, 28g)
|Bacon back (grilled)||27.0||3.4||nil||1.2|
|Deli roast beef||15.5||2.5||0.6||0.3|
Dairy & Egg Products. (per ounce, 28g)
|Egg (whole-1 large)||74||6.0||trace||5.0|
|Egg (white-1 large)||18.0||4.0||trace||trace|
|Low fat buttermilk (250ml)||98.0||8.0||12||2.0|
|Ricotta cheese (part skimmed)||38.3||3.13||1.3||2.24|
|Yogurt (plain fat-free)||15.8||1.6||2.1||trace|
|Cheddar Cheese (reduced fat)||54.8||7.8||1.1||2.2|
|Swiss Cheese (reduced fat)||56.0||8.9||1.1||1.1|
|Cottage Cheese (2%)||25.0||4.0||1.0||1|
Nuts Seeds and Oils. (per ounce, 28g)
|Almond Butter (1 tbsp)||101||2.5||3.5||9.5|
|Canola oil (1 tbsp)||124||0.0||0.0||14|
|Flaxseeds (1 tbsp)||59||2.3||4.0||4.0|
|Olive Oil (1 tbsp)||119||0.0||0.0||14|
|Peanuts (dry roasted)||186||7.8||6.7||15.6|
Grains, Breads, and Pasta. (per ounce, 28g)
|Bagel, plain (1 small-3”)||190||7||37||1|
|Barley, pearl (cooked)||33.7||7||7.7||0.1|
|Bran Muffin (1 small)||178||5||32||5|
|Brown Rice (cooked)||31.1||0.7||6.4||0.2|
|Corn, tortilla (1)||58||2||12||1|
|Flour, tortilla (8”dia)||146||4||25||3|
|Rye bread (1 slice)||83||3.0||16||1.0|
|Sourdough Bread (1 slice)||88||3.0||17||1.0|
|Spaghetti (wholewheat) (cooked)||39.3||1.4||8.0||0.2|
|White rice (cooked)||31||0.6||6.8||trace|
|Wholegrain Crackers (5)||90||2.0||14||3.0|
|Wholemeal Bread (1 slice)||73||3.0||13||1|
|Wholemeal Pitta (1)||170||6.0||35||2.0|
|Wild Rice (cooked)||28.1||1.1||5.9||0.1|
Fruits (per ounce, 28g)
|Apple 1 (med)||72||trace||19||trace|
|Banana (1 med)||105||1.0||30||trace|
|Grapefruit (1/2 Medium)||41||1.0||10||trace|
|Grape Juice (100 ml)||45.2||trace||19||trace|
|Melon (cubed) Honeydew||10||0.1||5.4||trace|
|Nectarine (1 medium)||60||1.0||14||trace|
|Orange (1 navel)||69||1.0||18||trace|
|Orange Juice (100ml)||44.8||0.8||26||trace|
|Peach (1 med)||38||1.0||9.0||trace|
|Pear (1 med)||96||1.0||26||trace|
Legumes (per ounce, 28g)
|Lima Beans (baby)||33.8||2.0||6.1||trace|
|Soya beans (cooked)||79||6.8||6.2||3.1|
|Split Peas (cooked)||32.4||2.2||5.8||trace|
Vegetables (per ounce. 28g)
|Artichokes (1 medium)||60||4.0||13||trace|
|Asparagus (4 large spears)||16||2.0||3.0||trace|
|Beats (sliced cooked)||2.35||0.8||2.8||trace|
|Broccoli (florets raw)||7.7||0.6||1.2||trace|
|Carrot (1 large)||30||1.0||7||trace|
|Chinese cabbage (cooked)||3.3||0.5||.05||trace|
|Collard greens (chopped)||1.6||0.1||0.3||trace|
|Garlic (1 clove)||5.0||trace||1.0||trace|
|Green peas (raw)||24||1.6||4.3||trace|
|Pepper (green) Chopped||5.6||0.2||1.3||trace|
|Potato (1 med) Baked||161||4.0||37||trace|
|Potato (mashed with milk)||23||1.0||5.0||0.0|
|Romaine lettuce (shredded)||6.2||0.6||1.2||trace|
|Sweet potato 1 med, baked)||103||2.0||24||trace|
|Tomato (1 lge)||33||2.0||7.0||trace|
|Tomato juice (100ml)||16||0.8||4.0||trace|
Remember that if...
You're not gaining weight.
Eat twice the amount of carbs and 1.5 times as much protein at two of your meals per day.
You're gaining weight, but its as much fat as it is muscle.
Eliminate carbs at your last two meals of the day, (excluding your post workout meal.
You're gaining weight and losing bodyfat.
Follow the directions in rule (1) above at every meal.
You did fine at first, but now your bodyfat has increased.
Halve your carbs at your last two meals. If the bodyfat falls in two weeks, increase your carbs.
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