A body building diet should focus on supplying the body with enough nutrition to enable the building of new muscle tissue while controlling fat levels so that the muscle groups are as defined as possible.
I will provide you with a nutritional starting point that you should follow to get you started on your body building diet. In order to ensure that you are providing your body with the nutrition necessary for building new muscle, you will take bodily measurements every week or two and modify your diet accordingly.
This page gives you the information you need to get started on a body building diet plan and you will need to visit my bodybuilding measurements page for instructions on taking bodily measurements and manipulating your body building diet for maximum lean muscle gains.
This is the nutrition that I suggest for a good starting point:
In order to most effectively supply your body with the protein required for muscle building and control increases in your blood sugar that will lead to fat storage, the ideal ratio of nutrients consumed for meals that do not surround a weight training session should be 60% carbohydrates and 40% protein.
Since carbohydrates provide your body with the necessary energy for exercise and muscle recovery, you should consume a ratio of 75% carbohydrates and 25% protein for meals that are consumed before and after your weight training workouts. This increased ratio of carbs/protein will lead to an increase in blood sugar, but it will not be an issue before and after your weight workouts as your body will use this energy to fuel your workout and to recover after your workout and will not lead to unused energy being stored in the form of fat.
Another reason for this increased ratio of carbs/protein surrounding your weight workouts is that studies have shown that an increase in insulin corresponds to increased testosterone production. While increased insulin will lead to an increase in testosterone production, if your body does not have a need for the excess blood sugar, it will store the unused energy in the undesirable form of fat. It is for this reason that you should maintain a 60/40 carbs to protein ratio for all meals in your body building diet plan except those that are consumed before or after a weight workout.
If you would like more information on carbohydrates and insulin response, see my bodybuilding nutrition page.
What About Fat
You will inevitably consume a certain amount of fat throughout the day as part of your body building diet, but I do not feel it is important to monitor your fat intake as closely as carbs and protein. It is already tedious enough to make sure you are eating the right amounts of carbs and protein for every meal. You should focus on eating low fat foods as much as possible as eating too much fat will result in fat being stored on your body.
I typically consume less than 50 grams of fat per day, and if you stick to this rule, you will not have any problems with building lean muscle mass.
5 Meals or More Per Day
You will notice that I have allowed for 5 meals every day. On the days that you workout with weights you will follow one body building diet plan and a different plan on days that you do not workout with weights. I have found that by slightly decreasing the amounts that you eat on non-weight workout days, you can encourage fat loss while still providing your body with sufficient nutrition for muscle building and recovery.
Your pre-bedtime meal will always contain more protein than carbohydrates. The purpose of this is to provide your body with the muscle building protein it needs to build new muscle while you sleep. And you do not want to consume large amounts of carbohydrates before sleep because your body needs very little energy while sleeping and any unused energy will inevitably turn to fat.
On the days that you workout with weights, you should consume a meal before and after you workout, a meal before you go to bed and 2 other meals throughout the day.
Your pre-workout meal should be consumed about 1 hour before starting your weight workout and your post workout meal should be consumed within 30 minutes of completing your weight workout.
All other meals should be spaced approximately 3 hours apart with your pre-bedtime meal being consumed within 2 hours of going to sleep. See my page on increasing metabolism for more insight on why you should space your meals approximately 3 hours apart.
On days that you do not work out with weights, you will simply eat the 5 meals in order as shown in the body building diet plan above for non weight training days.
If this meal schedule is not clear to you yet, don’t worry, I will give a couple of examples to help make things more clear.
Examples of Meal Schedules On Weight Workout Days
If you like to perform your weight workouts first thing in the morning, you will want to eat your pre-workout meal as your first meal of the day – about 1 hour before starting your weight workout. Within 30 minutes of completing your weight workout, you will consume your post-workout meal as your second meal of the day.
3 hours after you have eaten your post-workout meal, you will eat one of your “other meals” and will consume the second “other meal” 3 hours after that.
3 hours after eating your second “other meal” you will likely be ready to eat your pre-bedtime meal. If this schedule does not cover enough time to fill out your day (i.e., your pre-bedtime meal would have to be eaten at 6pm), you may split one or both of your “other meals” in half to give you one or two more meals for the day.
By splitting one of your “other meals” in half you will be consuming 20 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs two times (giving you 6 meals for the day) instead of 40 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs once using the 5 meals per day split.
This will allow you to consume the same amount and ratios of carbs and proteins throughout the day and add another meal or two to ensure that you are able to eat every 3 hours.
If you prefer weight training in the afternoon, you will start your day by consuming one of your “other meals”. Depending on your schedule or when you want to workout, your second meal will either be your second “other meal” or your pre-workout meal.
If you consume your second “other meal”, you will then consume your pre-workout meal 3 hours after that and workout an hour or so later with your post-workout meal to follow within 30 minutes of completing your weight workout.
If you consume your pre-workout meal as your second meal, you would workout an hour after eating the pre-workout meal and then consume the post-workout meal within 30 minutes of completing your weight workout. You would then consume the second “other meal” 3 hours after eating your post-workout meal followed by your pre-bedtime meal about 3 hours after that.
Please feel free to split one or both of your “other meals” in half if you need to add another meal or two in order to be able to eat every 3 hours while you are awake.
Example of Meal Schedule on Non-Weight Workout Days
On days that you take a break from weight training you will follow the body building diet plan for non-weight training days.
This plan is more simple to follow than the weight training days because you will simply consume the five meals in the order they are shown.
You should do your best to space all meals 3 hours apart to help increase your metabolism and control your body fat levels.
Although the non-weight workout plan is fairly simple, I have displayed an example daily schedule just to ensure that there is no confusion on how this should be followed.
For the non-weight workout days, you can split any meals except for the pre-bedtime meal in half in order to give you an extra meal (or more) for the day if you need to fill more time before you plan on going to bed.
Here is an example non-weight workout day eating schedule with one of the meals split in half:
Calculating Carbs and Protein Amounts
You may be wondering how you are to determine that you are eating the indicated amounts of carbohydrates and proteins for a given meal. If so, I am going to give instructions on how to correctly calculate the number of carbs and proteins you are eating for a given meal so you will be able to provide your body with the nutritional values provided in my body building diet plan above.
In order to accurately account for the carbohydrates and proteins in a given meal, you will need to have a digital food scale (available at most department stores) and a calculator.
Using the protein and carbohydrate amounts in the body building diet plan above, you will determine the number of each that should be consumed for a given meal based on which meal you are preparing. As an example, let’s say that you are preparing one of the “other meals” for a weight workout day that consists of 40 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbohydrates.
Let’s assume that you plan on eating grilled chicken breasts and mashed potatoes for this particular meal. You will start by calculating the amount of grilled chicken breasts you will need to reach 40 grams of protein.
Before you can determine how much chicken you need to consume, you have to know the serving size of the chicken and the amount of protein contained in a serving size. To retrieve this information, you will need to use the nutrition label of the food you are eating. Here is a sample nutrition label in case you are not familiar with them.
If you are eating a food that does not contain a nutrition label, you should refer to the USDA food database to determine the amounts of carbs or protein in a given serving size of food. Here is a link to the database for your reference: USDA Food Database
Let’s say that the nutrition label for the chicken breasts indicates that a serving size is 28 grams and that each serving size contains 7 grams of protein. Since you know that you need a total of 40 grams of protein for this meal, you can simply divide 40 grams of protein needed by the 7 grams of protein in each serving to determine the number of servings you will need to reach your 40 grams of protein total.
Dividing 40 by 7 will give a total of 5.71 servings. Since you know the serving size is 28 grams, you can simply multiply 28 grams by 5.71 to get the total amount of chicken that you will need to consume to reach 40 grams of protein. Multiplying 28 by 5.71 gives a total of 159.88 grams of chicken for 40 grams of protein.
You will then use your digital food scale to weigh out 159 or 160 grams of thawed chicken breasts (before seasoning and cooking) and you will have your 40 grams of protein for that meal.
Calculating carbohydrates works the same way except you will subtract the dietary fiber from the amount of total carbohydrates indicated on the nutrition label.
For this meal, we have decided to eat mashed potatoes for our 60 grams of carbohydrates. After referring to the USDA database we have determined that mashed potatoes contain 4.03 grams of carbohydrates and 0.6 grams of dietary fiber per 28 gram serving size.
In order to determine the amount of mashed potatoes needed for 60 grams of carbohydrates, you will first subtract 0.6 grams of fiber from the 4.03 grams of total carbohydrates per serving size giving an amount of 3.43 grams of carbs per 28 gram serving size. We can then divide the 60 gram requirement by the 3.43 grams per serving to determine the number of servings of mashed potatoes needed for 60 total grams of carbohydrates.
Dividing 60 by 3.43 gives a total of 17.49 servings. You will then multiply 17.49 servings by the 28 gram serving size which gives a total 489.72 grams of mashed potatoes needed for 60 total grams of carbohydrates.
Only Count Muscle Building Protein
Only certain protein sources can be used by your body to build new muscle. When you are calculating the amount of protein you are eating for a given meal in your body building diet plan, you only want to count the proteins that can be used to build new muscle. All other protein sources should be ignored.
For instance, if you are eating a sandwich with just turkey breast and bread, the turkey contains muscle building protein while the protein in the bread cannot be used for muscle building. Therefore, you would only count the protein in the turkey. However, carbohydrates should always be counted from all sources, but don’t forget to subtract out the fiber that is included in the total carbohydrate count.
For more on muscle building protein sources, I suggest visiting my bodybuilding nutrition page.
Consuming the Right Types of Carbohydrates
I will not be going into the details regarding simple and complex carbohydrates and how they affect the body on this page. I provide detailed explanations on both types of carbohydrates on my bodybuilding nutrition page.
For the purposes of following your body building diet, it is important that you simply know that the carbohydrates consumed for your pre and post workout meals should be predominantly simple carbohydrates, while the carbohydrates consumed for all other meals throughout the day should be mostly complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and lead to a quick spike in blood sugar. If this blood sugar is not used by your muscles in the form of expended energy, it will ultimately be stored in your fat tissue. Consuming simple carbohydrates before and after your weight workouts will ensure that you are using this energy to fuel your workouts and recovery and will not lead to the addition of unwanted fat.
Complex carbohydrates digest more slowly and provide a small spike in blood sugar that is sustained over a long period of time while the body breaks down these carbs. It is for this reason that you want to consume complex carbs for all meals not surrounding a weight workout when your body does not have a need for quick access to large amounts of energy.
It is fine to mix these two types of carbohydrates for any meal in your body building diet plan, but you should always strive to eat mostly simple carbohydrates before and after your weight workouts and mostly complex carbohydrates for every other meal throughout the day.
I have put together several sample meals to make it easier for you to get started on following a body building diet plan. These can be found on my bodybuilding meal plans page.
If you want to naturally build lean muscle mass, I have not found any body building diet that is more effective than the one described above. The results I was able to achieve as shown on the home page were obtained by following a body building diet just like this one.
It will seem cumbersome to measure your foods in order to follow your body building diet plan for the first week or two, but after that, it will become second nature and will not be much of an inconvenience at all. Using my meal plans and diet tips will also make following your body building diet much easier and more realistic.
The fast muscle gains you achieve will also continually motivate you to follow your body building diet plan week after week.