Bodybuilding nutrition: the complete guide to eating well

Nutrition and weight training are inseparable. To progress in bodybuilding it is not enough to train, nutrition is one of the pillars of success and some even say that it is responsible for 70% of the results. Unfortunately, many practitioners do not know why a healthy diet is important in weight training and therefore have difficulty achieving their goals. You can give it your all, if your diet is not adapted, the results will be difficult.

We will show you why a strength training practitioner must have a healthy diet but also help you to create a diet plan adapted to your goals.

Dietary requirements for weight training

The needs of a sedentary adult compared to an adult who works out several times a week are different. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates make up the large family of macronutrients, fats and carbohydrates mainly provide energy, while proteins make up cell structures and body mass.

When we do sports and even more so when we do bodybuilding, protein renewal (the amount of protein destroyed and recycled per day) increases, so it is important to consume more protein to compensate for this increased renewal. On the other hand, the body needs protein to allow better muscle growth and recovery. For these reasons, 0.8 g per kg of body weight is sufficient for a non-athlete, whereas a body builder will have much higher needs, between 1.5 and 2.5 g per kg of body weight. This amount can easily be reached through diet and can also be supplemented with protein powder. It is important to diversify the sources of protein by drawing from vegetable (lentils, quinoa, etc) and animal (meat, eggs, etc) proteins.

The Recommended Nutrient Intakes indicate that no more than 35% of the daily caloric intake should be in the form of fat. In bodybuilding, it is recommended to reserve 15 to 20% of your calorie intake for these lipids, which corresponds to more or less 1g per kg of body weight. Too much fat intake will lead to the formation of fat mass, but too little can also have harmful effects such as a decrease in muscle development or a drop in testosterone levels. Beware, there are several kinds of lipids, you should give preference to unsaturated fatty acids such as egg yolks, olive oil or fatty fish such as salmon.

Like everyone else, a sportsman or woman needs energy and must therefore maintain a high intake of carbohydrates. The only differences with a sedentary person will be their sources and the time of day when we consume them. We will prefer carbohydrates with a low glycemic index such as rice or wholemeal pasta and we will choose the moment when the absorption of these macronutrients will be the most beneficial for our organism .

Learning to eat at the right time

It is fundamental to know what to eat at different times of the day in order to optimize your results. Try swallowing a pizza before your workout and you’ll soon regret it! Eating the right thing at the right time will help you get better results. A practitioner must be as involved in his weight training program as in his diet program.

Whether you want to gain weight or dry out, it is essential to eat healthy foods with a low glycemic index and as little industrial as possible throughout the day. It is important to ensure that you have an adequate intake of each of the essential macronutrients. Each food must be assimilated for a specific purpose, once you feel the benefits of your food program you will not be able to do without it. Healthy eating will become a pleasure.

The foods assimilated around the workout have a vital role to play:

Before training (1h to 1h30) it is recommended to take a source of complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread, oat flakes) as well as proteins (chicken breast or shaker) to get energy and better results during your session. Immediately after the workout, the body is drained of energy, a source of carbohydrates will create a peak of insulin to better assimilate the nutrients. This is also the best time to have a protein intake to stop the muscular catabolism generated by the session (a fast assimilation protein intake such as whey is convenient and very effective).

Create a personalized food plan easily

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Create a personalized food plan easily

If you don’t want to get random results you shouldn’t eat randomly. In order to increase your progress in weight training you must create a precise and adapted eating plan. There is not necessarily need to call on a sports coach, you have the possibility to create one yourself and that’s what we will do.

The first thing to do is to calculate your daily energy expenditure (DEJ). This is the total daily calories that do not change your weight. So you will need to list what you eat and add up the calories from the different foods you eat to get your daily calorie total.

Let’s take an example: You ingested 3000 calories per day for 5 days and gained 600 grams, so your calorie total was too high. You decide to decrease this intake and consume 2500 calories per day for 5 days, you lost 400 grams, so your total calories were too low. So you decide to increase this intake to 2800 calories per day, after a week your weight has not changed, victory! Your EJD is therefore 2800 calories.

This step can be laborious but it is necessary to create a meal plan, hopefully you’ll fall directly on your JDD and you won’t need to adjust several times. Once you’ve calculated your JDD, all that’s left to do is to distribute the macronutrients protein, carbohydrates and fat. As explained above, this is how we will do the distribution:

2 grams per kilo of body weight for protein.
1 g per kilo body weight for lipids
the rest as carbohydrate

The second thing is this:

1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 g of fat = 9 calories
1 g of carbohydrate = 4 calories

Let’s go back to our example and imagine that you weigh 70 kilos. Your EJD is 2800 calories, so the breakdown will be as follows:

140 g of protein (70 x 2) or 140 x 4 = 560 calories...
70 g of fat (70 x 1) or 70 x 9 = 630 calories
2800 - 560 - 630 calories = 1610 calories. This leaves 1610 calories for carbohydrates evening 1610 / 4 = 400 g.

The distribution may seem complicated, but it’s just basic math. Once you have obtained the quantities in grams you only have to eat to fill your calculated quantities every day, the MyFitnessPal application is very useful for this, it allows you to add what you eat and does the calculations for you.
A bad diet can make you give up

In weight training, the main source of motivation is to see yourself progress. Food plays a major role in achieving your goals, if you neglect it you risk stagnation and discouragement. On the contrary, if your diet is adapted your progress will be tenfold and you will obtain results that will push you to continue.

Weight training requires a continuous investment, get involved and make this discipline your way of life, the results will be there.