“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the father of low-carb diet, wrote this nearly two centuries ago. His wisdom rings true even today. This means, if you want to be a muscle builder, you must eat a muscle building diet.
In this article, you’ll find each aspect of an effective muscle building diet
under a microscope and answer critical questions that you may have regarding food
and muscle growth
. Let’s get started.
1. Calorie Isn’t Just a Calorie
Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy. It’s the energy needed to raise the temperature of a gram of water by one degree Celsius. This definition suggests that all calories are the same. It doesn’t matter whether the calorie is from chocolate or cabbage. Experience, however, teaches us that somehow the calories from the latter is healthier than the former. What’s the reason for this?
The truth is that it isn’t the calories that determine the nutritional value of food. To categorize food into healthy and unhealthy groups, you must look at the food’s nutrition profile. To do this, you need a basic awareness of nutrients, particularly macronutrients. Before we look into that, you need to establish how many calories you need to support your muscle building
To calculate your daily calorie requirement, you can use the calorie calculator. The number of calories you need to sustain your muscle building efforts is an important number. This is because you will portion your macronutrients based on this value. You’ll learn how to do this in the next section.
2. Know Your Macro Nutrients
Macronutrients are nutrients which your body requires in large quantities. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) for Adults recommends the following:
- 45 to 65 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates.
- 20 to 35 percent of your calories come from fats.
- 10 to 35 percent of your calories come from proteins.
To tweak your diet to suit your muscle building goals, you must stick to the upper percentage limit for proteins. At the same time if you want to lose fat, stick to the bottom limit for carbohydrates. Get the remaining calories from fats.
For example, if your daily need is 3,000 calories, then you need 1,050 calories of proteins, 1,350 calories of carbohydrates, and 600 calories from fats. Remember, this is just the starting point. Once you begin your muscle building program, you’ll significantly alter the macronutrient distribution depending on the results you want.
3. Consume Healthy Carbohydrates for Energy
The rise in popularity of low-carb diets has prompted the masses to ostracize carbohydrates just as they had excommunicated fat. It is true that lowering your carbohydrate intake leads to efficient fat loss. This is because in the absence of adequate carbohydrates, your body switches from burning glucose for energy, glucogenesis, to burning fats for energy, ketogenesis. However, if you are looking to build muscle, rapid fat loss may not be your primary objective.
If fat loss is your primary goals, then a diet geared towards muscle building isn’t right for you. Instead, you should lose excess pounds through a low-carb diet and then look to build your muscles. This is because you will need a lot of energy to carry out your muscle building workouts. If you don’t get enough carbs, you’ll get exhausted soon and quit.
When you’re body-weight is close to normal, your body doesn’t have extra fat to burn for energy. Therefore, you will need carbohydrates to fuel your efforts. But, these carbohydrates must come from foods rich in good carbs.
4. Sources of Healthy Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates come in two primary forms – simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates consist of glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose. We call them simple carbohydrates because their molecular structure has single or double sugars. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, have molecules made of more than two sugars.
The simple molecular structure of simple carbohydrates allows your body to assimilate it for quick energy. For this reason, you must limit your intake of simple sugars to your pre-and-post workouts. Your body needs more time to process complex carbohydrates into energy. Eating complex sugars makes energy available to the body for non-workout periods.
Sources of complex carbohydrates include green vegetables, whole grains, starchy vegetables and lentils. Potatoes require a special mention here. Although it is a complex carbohydrate, it behaves like simple carbohydrates in your body, so it is an ideal pre-workout food. Avoid carbohydrates from refined and processed foods
, such as soda, candy, sugar syrup, pastries and desserts.
5. Portioning Your Carbs Correctly
The first step in portioning your carbs is calculating how many calories of your daily calorie requirement must come from carbohydrates. Assuming you need 1,300 calories from carbohydrates, the next step is to divide that number into two parts.
The first part consists of the energy you will need for your workout. For example, consider your workout requires 450 calories. This energy must come from a mix of simple and complex carbs. The second part is the difference between 1,300 and 450. This energy must come from complex carbohydrates.
After you’ve distributed the calories into simple and complex carbohydrates, you can select foods to supply the required calories. When choosing your food sources, choose simple foods that don’t have too many ingredients. This makes it easier for you to track your calories.
6. Say Yes to the Fabulous Fats
Fats got a bad rap from nutritionists because they thought that eating more fat makes you fat. Just as eating brains doesn’t make you more intelligent, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. There is growing evidence indicating that fat storage is regulated by hormones that respond to blood sugar level. This makes excess simple carbohydrates the reason for excess fat storage.
Fats are essential to you diet. They help store energy for later use. Plus, fats act as the medium for many biochemical reactions. Fats also help regulate your body temperature. Overall, fats aren’t that bad. So, you’ll not cause yourself any trouble by getting a considerable number of your calories from fats.
The only thing you must be mindful about is that the fats must come from healthy sources. Fats are mainly of two types. Saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats stay solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats stay liquid at room temperature.
Between the two, unsaturated fat is the healthier kind, so skew your consumption in favor of unsaturated fats. There’s a third type, called trans fats. You should avoid this group at all costs.
7. Foods Rich in Healthy Fats
To get your fats from healthy sources, consider including the following in your diet:
- Avocados: Unlike most other fruits, the majority of calories of avocados come from fats and not carbohydrates. Most of the fat is monounsaturated fat and has many health benefits. Avocados are also rich in potassium and fiber. This means they can improve your cardiac and digestive health.
- Cheese: It takes a whole glass of milk to make a single slice of cheese. Consequently, cheese has a mega does of fats. Even though most of the fat is saturated fat, cheese is still an amazing source of fat because it is abundant in calcium and phosphorus.
- Nuts: Nuts are nutrient powerhouses. Just a handful of nuts carries tremendous nutritive value. For example, an ounce of almonds provides more than a third of your daily vitamin E requirement. In addition to that, you get about 116 calories from fat, most of which is unsaturated.
You can also include foods, such as fatty fish, chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and yogurt, to meet your daily fat requirement.
8. How Much Fats Should You Eat
After calculating the calories from proteins and carbohydrates, you must subtract their sum from your total daily calorie requirement. This value gives you the amount of fats you need. This will always be the case. Let’s say you chose to decrease carbohydrate intake by 10 percent and increase protein intake by five percent, then the remaining five percent will come from fats.
Once you have the number of calories you need from fats, the next part is simple. Read the food label to see how many calories per serving come from fats. Then you can portion the food to get the required calories from fats. Since this is a numbers game, you can’t do this on the go. That’s why you must plan your diet in advance. You’ll read more on that later in the article.
9. Provide Proteins for Growth and Repair
Protein is the last macronutrient and also the most important nutrient in the eyes of bodybuilders. Your body needs proteins to create structural elements that constitute all your cells, including muscle cells. Therefore, its role in growth and repair after you do muscle building exercises
cannot be understated. But, a good muscle building dietmust also have other macronutrients in the right proportion.
So, despite the fact that proteins are important, don’t go crazy over them. When it comes to proteins, you must consider the quality of the protein source. You can evaluate the quality of a protein source by looking at the number of amino acids it provides. Almonds provide 10 essential amino acids and skinless chicken breast provides 12 essential amino acids. Therefore, chicken breast is a better source of proteins than almonds.
You can use the self-nutrition data website to look at each food’s amino acid score. The higher the score, better the protein quality.
10. The Best Protein Sources
The best muscle building foods to get your proteins from include the following:
When you are building muscle, your grocery shopping list will almost always include the above foods.
11. Quantify Your Protein Intake
There’s a lot of rules of thumb floating around regarding protein intake. Instead of using any rule of thumb, let’s use a more logical rule. You know your total calorie requirement and you know that up to 35 percent of it must come proteins. This gives you a starting point for how much proteins you need.
The problem is, this number gives you the value in calories. To convert it to grams, divide the calories by four, because a gram of calories has four calories. Once you have the quantity in grams, you can use food labels to get the required proteins.
When you start, don’t begin immediately at the 35 percent limit. Start at 25 percent. Then increase your protein intake only if you don’t gain muscle mass. Growing muscular and taking care of your dietary needs is a parallel effort, so keep an eye on the results your diet is providing.
12. Few Words on Micronutrients
We’ve talked a lot about micronutrients. Now, let’s look at the essential micronutrients for bodybuilding. Firstly, you should get enough B complex vitamins. This is because the B complex vitamins play an important role in converting food to energy. Next, you must get your daily quota of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium helps your bones become stronger and also helps your muscles contract. Phosphorus plays a key role in the energy release mechanism in your body in its phosphate form.
Other micronutrients essential to gain muscle include vitamin A, C, D, and E, along with the minerals iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. To get enough micronutrients, foods in its natural unprocessed form. For example, eat whole grains instead of processed grains.
This is because a lot of micronutrients are lost while processing. Also use methods, such as steaming or microwaving, to prevent micronutrient loss.
13. Plan Your Muscle Building Diet
If you are serious about your muscle building program, you will need a proper muscle building diet plan. We’ve spoken about each element in the plan separately. Now, let’s bring everything together. The first part of your plan should have your daily calorie requirement. Following this, you should partition the calories into calories from carbs, fats, and proteins.
Next, choose your meal times. Let’s say you eat three moderate meals and two intermittent snacks. Then, populate these slots with foods such that you don’t exceed your calorie limit for any category. While selecting foods, choose foods that are natural and not processed. If you want some relief from all the health food once in a while, you can use the 80/20 rule to keep food interesting.
14. Follow the 80/20 Rule
According to the 80/20 rule, you should get 80 percent of your calories from optimal sources. You can get the remaining 20 percent from whatever you want. As long as you don’t exceed your daily calorie intake and 80 percent of your bodybuilding diet is healthy, the 20 percent won’t make a serious dent on your efforts.
Another advantage of following the 80/20 rule is that you can sustain your efforts for long periods. If you go 100 percent, you won’t be able to sustain efforts for more than two or three months. Even if you force yourself to do so, your regime will make you feel miserable.
If you want to have a strong body throughout your life, you should adopt this principle. Five steps forward and one step backward is still four steps forward.
15. Consider Muscle Building Supplements Only If…
At times, you may be required to push your body beyond its natural limit. For instance, the highest fat free mass index observed in a natural bodybuilder is 27.9. Thanks to steroids, bodybuilders can push this limit to the 30’s. You should ask yourself whether you want to push your body to such limits. It will definitely create complications in the long run.
So, is the price worth it? If you are convinced that you want to push your body to and beyond the limit, then you can increase your human growth hormone
boosters, such as GenF20 Plus
, to achieve muscle gains.
Think Long-Term Sustainability
It is possible to craft an impressive physique and develop immense strength by purely natural means. Elevating your body to such high standards requires time. If you try to get too much done in too little time, you will burnout. To prevent this, break your journey into small chunks.
Breaking up your major goal into smaller mini-goals allows you better control over the results. Moreover, the habits you develop as you progress will stick with you throughout your life. This grants permanency to the results your achieved.
Imagine how you’d like to look and feel ten years from now. This puts things in perspective, because most people think about what they want to look like for their upcoming marriage or the big party coming 10days later.
Don’t be one of them. The only way to win is to play the long game. Be sure to execute your muscle building diet promptly. When you succeed in getting your dream body, you’ll thank yourself for starting when you did.