Nutrition is just as important as training. Although everyone’s body is unique thus may have different nutritional requirements there are a few key elements of nutrition that apply to most everyone when it comes to building muscle. To build muscle you need 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day (split up throughout 6-7 meals) from quality sources such as chicken, lean ground beef, lean cuts of steak, turkey, eggs and fish.
Protein powders (specifically whey isolate) are also an excellent way to meet your protein needs (especially post workout). Carbohydrates should come from sources such as rice, whole grains, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables. Some healthy sources of fats come from fish, certain types of nuts, natural peanut butter and olive oil. You can also take flax or fish oil.
One important thing before moving forward is I want you to replace the evil word ‘diet’ with Nutrition Plan. A diet will make you weak and skinny. However, getting enough of the proper nutrients needed for growth and recovery will make you bigger and stronger as well as leaner.
Meal Planning Chart
For building lean muscle, choose 1 item from each food category below. If your goal is to gain size and strength then choose 1 from the Protein category and 2 from the Carbs category (or stick with the 1/1 and simply increase your portions). The serving sizes should be adjusted depending on your current body stats and/or your goals. This is just an example of a few protein, carbohydrate and fat sources (as there are many more) to be used as a guideline, so you may need to modify the chart below to meet your own goals.
|Protein Based Foods||Carb Based Foods|
|Steak||Sweet potato or baked potato|
|Pork||Whole grain pasta|
|Turkey||Brown or white rice|
|Skinless boneless chicken breast||Beans|
|Fish (tilapia, salmon, catfish, etc.)||Veggies (broccoli, spinach, carrots, etc.)|
|Tuna||Fruit (bananas, apples, berries, etc.)|
|Ground beef, pork or turkey||Oatmeal|
|Whole Eggs||Whole grain wheat bread|
You’ll notice that fats are not included. You will more than likely get adequate fat intake from the sources of foods listed in the chart above (ex. Red meat, salmon, eggs, milk). As stated above, you can also supplement with flax or fish oil. It’s important to read the labels for content of the foods you buy. Make a note to buy foods that are organic and/or have all natural ingredients. * Nuts and all natural peanut butter are also great sources of healthy fats.
Lean Muscle Meal Plan: 1 Protein, 1 Carbs, & low healthy fats (ex: Omega-3 fatty acids and fats from whole eggs)
Size and Strength Meal Plan: 1 Protein, 2 Carbs, & moderate healthy fats (ex: all natural peanut butter and whole eggs)
This depends on your goals. If you compete in bodybuilding and are a few weeks out from a show, then you probably don’t need to mess around with cheat meals. But if you’re in the off season, or do not compete and just simply do this recreationally (as many do), then there’s no reason to deprive yourself all the time of foods you enjoy. If you’re training hard, getting plenty of protein and rest, then you can afford to treat yourself in moderation.
Remember, moderation is the key. If you down a whole pizza every night, you’re going to gain body fat no matter how hard you train. Or if you drink alcohol excessively, you can kiss any muscle gains good-bye. Many recreational weight lifters will keep a somewhat strict diet during the week and save foods like pizza or hot wings for the weekend. This doesn’t mean that it’s ok to load up on junk food the entire weekend; again, moderation is the key here.
More Nutrition & Meal Planning Tips
Try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible as well as foods that are high in artificial or processed sugars. You should consume a meal every 2-3 waking hours. It may be beneficial for you to consult with a nutritionist and tell them your goals to have a precise nutrition plan. Again, not every nutrition plan works the same for everyone as our biochemistry is unique.
A great way to be successful with your nutrition plan is to list several foods from each group of protein, carbs and fats, and choose 1 per group for each meal. This allows you more control over what you want to eat, and also allows you to switch it up at any time.
Train (and eat!) with Passion,