Most modern diets used in bodybuilding are not entirely correct. This is due to the desire of each author, when creating his own diet, to invent something new, but in 99% of cases, these innovations are completely absurd, and sometimes even harmful. Sophisticated cycling methods, the preference for some specific food products, the difficulty in preparing products, ridiculous combinations – all these are attempts to bring something new to the bodybuilding diet for attracts attention. If you are advised to eat horseradish with garlic, or use only a narrow range of products, for example, vegetables that are purple in color, etc., you can safely close this book or article.
Who needs this diet?
This publication is based on modern data from dietetics and bodybuilding, as well as on the rich successful experience of applying it in practice. It’s probably not even a description of a particular special scheme, but a compilation of effective principles of bodybuilder nutrition, regardless of his level of professionalism and muscle mass, which will allow you to understand the nutritional characteristics and create your own diet, with which you can improve health and achieve maximum results in bodybuilding.
The diet described in this article can last an unlimited period of time, does not have certain features of the “entry” and “exit” from it. Remember that you need to increase and decrease the amount of food consumed (calorie content and volume) gradually, otherwise metabolic and digestive upsets are possible. The body needs time to adapt to new nutritional features.
The basic principles of diet
1. 5-6 meals per day
Recent studies have shown that the anabolic effect of eating lasts about 3-4 hours, despite the fact that the high level of amino acids lasts longer. Therefore, when gaining muscle mass, you need to eat quite often: the optimal number of meals is 5-6 times a day. At this frequency, the digestive system is not overloaded, and small portions of nutrients are constantly entering the bloodstream that will nourish your muscles throughout the day. If you eat the same amount of food in 3 meals, then the absorbed nutrients will come in excess, so the body will begin to deposit them in the form of fat, where it is not possible to extract them in a high-calorie diet.
2. High calorie foods
About 70% of the eaten food should be high-calorie, otherwise overloading of the digestive system occurs, in addition, the degree of absorption of nutrients is reduced. No one denies the usefulness of fruits and vegetables, but when gaining muscle mass, their mass fraction should not exceed 30%. Fiber, which is found in large quantities in them, is not digested and stimulates bowel contraction, so most of the high-calorie foods will not be able to digest.
3. Limits in Fat and Fast Carbohydrates
Try to limit the consumption of foods rich in animals and other saturated fats (fatty meat, lard, margarine, butter, sausages, etc.). For muscle growth and energy production, the body primarily uses carbohydrates, so most of the fat in excess nutrients will be deposited in adipocytes (fat cells).
Avoid the consumption of fast carbohydrates, the most dangerous of them are sweet (confectionery, sweet fruits, etc.), the less dangerous are bakery products. Fast carbohydrates can be absorbed very quickly from the digestive tract, resulting in a sharp increase in blood sugar, in response to this; the body converts glucose into fat.
Fast carbohydrates can be consumed after training, when the muscles and other organs are able to quickly utilize glucose, in addition, the secretion of the anabolic hormone insulin increases, which is important when gaining muscle mass.
4. Drinking mode
When gaining muscle mass, many metabolic reactions are intensified, which necessitates a greater consumption of water. The optimal amount of liquid on average is (including water, which is contained in the products) – 3-4 liters per day. Do not allow the development of dehydration (dehydration), always drink when thirst occurs.
5. The distribution of servings during the day
When gaining muscle mass, the volume of food should be approximately equal, but in the first half of the day (before 4:00 p.m.) about 70% of all food consumed per day should be eaten. Although recent studies have shown that the daily distribution of servings plays a secondary role.
Never eat sweet or fatty at night. Food at bedtime should be easily digestible and rich in protein, for this, fermented milk products, vegetables (legumes and others), poultry meat, salads, eggs, fish are well suited.
Nutrition before training. Be sure to eat before training (2 hours before it starts). Protein dishes and products containing slow carbohydrates are well suited for this: cereals, flour, vegetables, etc. Carbohydrates before training are necessary in order to load glycogen depots and provide muscles and brain with energy during the training. Amino acids will trigger anabolism.
Nutrition after training. The greatest need for nutrients is observed soon after training. It is optimal to consume a carbohydrate-protein shake (gainer) immediately after training, and then a plentiful meal should be followed no later than 1–1.5 hours after training. Include foods rich in protein and slow carbohydrates, even a small amount of fast carbohydrates (sweet) can be consumed. After the training, the so-called protein-carbohydrate window opens, during this time the body is disposed to assimilate a large amount of food, while the nutrients are used to restore muscles and replenish energy.
6. Proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (in kcal)
* Carbohydrate content – 50-60%
Try to consume only slow carbohydrates.
· Protein content – 30-35%
These are essential muscle nutrients. Ideally, 50% of the protein comes from foods, the rest from sports nutrition. It is recommended that you calculate protein requirements using a calculator based on body weight, physical activity, and other factors.
· Fat Content – 10-20%
Do not limit the amount of fat below 10%; this will cause unwanted changes in metabolism. Try to consume only vegetable fats. Eat oily fish without restriction. Fish oil is very healthy.
It should be remembered that there is no ideal ratio that would suit absolutely everyone. Therefore, the main task of a novice bodybuilder is to find your own, which will be effective for you personally. Here we give the average numbers that are suitable for most people, you should start with this, and you can experiment. Interestingly, the ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates is not much different from the recommendations of nutritionists for ordinary people, and this is not surprising, since such proportions are best suited for both an ordinary person and an athlete.
The main principle of gaining muscle mass
Muscle mass begins to grow only when the amount of incoming energy in the form of food exceeds the amount of energy expended by the body. In addition, you need to remember that the body always tries to maintain homeostasis (constancy of the internal environment), so you can increase the calorie intake by 5, 10 and even 30%, while the mass will not change! Sometimes, in order to move the mass from the “dead point”, it is necessary to increase the calorie content of the daily diet by 50 and even 100%!
To determine the amount of food you need to gain muscle mass, you need to follow a simple technique: gradually increase the calorie content of the diet until the weight gain starts to reach 600–800 g per week. If the increase is less, then you need to eat more, and vice versa.
To do this, you need to weigh yourself at least once every three days. After a month, you can already adjust your rate. Do not exceed the increase of more than 800g per week; otherwise your body will begin to save a lot of fat!
Regularly monitor the percentage of body fat. According to a 2015 study on 58 pairs of twins, active formation of health-threatening visceral fat in men occurs when 20.6% of the total amount of fat in the body is reached, and in women when it reaches 39.4%. Therefore, with the accumulation of 15-20% fat in men, it is necessary to stop weight gain and switch to a diet for relief with a gradual decrease in fat level to 10%, and then a new mass gain cycle can be started.