Creating an effective bodybuilding diet is the most essential aspect of any muscle building plan. Even if you have the best weight lifting routine known to mankind, you can forget about putting on size, you can absolutely forget about adding muscle mass if you fail to consistently follow a high quality diet plan. So hit the back button now if you’re not serious about eating to gain muscle…
…Still here? Good.
Now I’ll continue by laying out the 9 steps you must follow to guarantee your bodybuilding diet plan is on on-point. No extras. No frivolous BS. Just integrate these simple steps into you muscle building plan, forget about all the distracting details that you can find on the vast abyss that is the Internet; then simply add water and watch your muscles blow up like balloons.
- Choose Your Goal. More specifically, decide on your short-term goal. Many of you reading this may want to lose fat while gaining muscle, but you will see significantly more rapid results if you focus on one goal at a time. From this point on, I am assuming your goal is to gain muscle mass.
- Calculate Your Caloric Needs. If you remember one fact from this bodybuilding diet article, then make sure you remember this: You must consume more calories than your body burns per day if you want to gain muscle. As a starting point, consume 18 calories per pound of your bodyweight (i.e. total calories = 18 x bodyweight in lbs). You may very well need to eat more or less than this, but remember it’s an estimate.
- Calculate Protein Intake. Your muscles need protein to physically increase your muscle mass. Consume 1.0 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight (i.e. grams of protein = 1.0 x bodyweight in lbs). To figure out how many calories this is, multiply your daily protein intake (in grams) by 4.
- Calculate Fat Intake. Dietary fat plays a vital role in a laundry list of body functions, related to both general health, energy and muscle building. So don’t skimp on it – And FYI, eating fatty foods does not equate to being fat. Start by eating 30% of your calories from fat. To convert calories of fat into grams of fat, divide your daily fat intake (in calories) by 9.
- Calculate Carb Intake. Carbohydrates give you energy, but technically, your body doesn’t even need them to survive (which is why we calculate carb intake last). But just because your body doesn’t need carbs, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any. Okay, so now to calculating: You know how many total calories you need per day; and you also know how many of those calories will come from protein as well as how many will come from fat. So, to find the number of calories from carbs that you should eat per day, simply subtract protein calories and fat calories from total calories. In mathematical terms, that’s: Calories from carbs = total calories – (protein calories + fat calories). To convert calories of carbs into grams of carbs, divide your daily carb intake (in calories) by 4.
- Eat Pre- & Post-Workout. Be sure to eat meals before and after your workout. Pre-workout nutrition fuels your muscles and provides your body with energy for the ensuing workout. In simple terms, post-workout nutrition halts catabolism (the breakdown of muscle caused by weight training) and triggers anabolism (the building/re-building of muscle). For pre-workout nutrition, eat 0.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight as well as 0.25 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight. For post-workout nutrition, eat 0.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and between 0.25-0.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight. Fats are optional for both meals. These meals can be solid, “regular” meals; or they can be liquid meals, using weight lifting supplements such as whey protein and dextrose.
- Foods to Eat. I am a proponent of flexible dieting. It’s much more productive to eat foods that you enjoy eating; restricting so-called “unhealthy” foods from your diet will make you less successful in the long term, and you’ll constantly be grumpy. That said, you can’t eat candy and junk food all day long without expecting to gain some hefty lard rolls on your pouch. Eating too much junk and greasy foods makes you fat because it produces a surplus of calories. So what to eat then? A large portion of your food should be common sense “healthy” foods, but never deprive yourself of a food you crave – Assuming you follow this one condition: Make sure you still hit your caloric requirements (step 2), protein intake (step 3), fat intake (step 4) and carbohydrate intake (step 5).
- Drink Water. Water is a true life force. Everything and everyone needs it. And you, in your muscle building pursuits, need a lot of it. Although it varies between people, and there are many factors that can influence your optimal water intake requirements, most people should try to drink about 1 gallon per day of high quality H20.
- Test & Modify. Put it into practice. Don’t expect for your bodybuilding diet plan to work like a charm the first time around. You’ll likely have to adjust the total calories up or down until you strike a balance. Aim for a steady rate of lean weight gain. On average, pure beginners can expect about 1-2 pounds per week (although a portion of this will be water weight). Check the mirror or take pictures; drop the calories if you start to resemble the Michelin Man. More experienced lifters will be should aim for a slower rate of weight gain (unless you want to be a fat blob) since it is more difficult to build muscle after the beginner stage.
Now take the relatively little time needed now to implement these directions and create a bodybuilding diet that actually works! Seriously. It takes a maximum of 20 minutes, but it will guarantee success in the years to come. It’s the best time investment you can make.