We all know that food is the source of our strength and one of the things that is essential for life itself, alongside how we look after our bodies.

Nutrition is even more of a focus for those people who are looking to build a slender, toned physique as they will be very aware that this is only achievable if both their fitness and food plans are adhered to.

Understanding how to incorporate the relevant diet and muscle building exercise into our routine to gain lean muscle and maximize fat burning is key to getting great results. In fact, there is a balance that is unique to each individual, referred to as the Personal Macro Nutrient Ratio.

You may think that your workout routines alone can make changes to your physical appearance and, while they can in the short run, food is equally (if not more) important when it comes to your fitness goals and maintaining that way of life. You need to make real changes to see real results - so let's get serious and look at what's needed in the diet of a fitness fanatic!

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Requirements For Successful Body Building

Gaining weight is easy, but if you want to gain lean muscle then you need to adopt more control over what you eat.

It is important to consume macronutrients, including quality proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids and complex carbohydrates. However, it is not good enough to just do this occasionally, you must regularly incorporate these into your diet for a permanent boost to your toning goals. Not forgetting, of course, a daily dose of a range of vitamins and minerals.

Protein

A high level of protein is essential to support your body after exerting your muscles, as it is needed to help them regenerate. Proteins are made up of amino acids such as valine, leucine and isoleucine. You probably haven't heard of these, which is why most trainers refer to them as their group - proteins.

Protein can be sourced from a variety of foods, both animal and plant-based. In terms of meat, you can find natural proteins in lean meat and fish, while in other food types you have the option of dairy products (preferably low in fat), eggs, soya and legumes.

It is recommended that you intake at least 2 grams of protein for each kilogram you weigh on a daily basis.

If you struggle to consume enough protein in your diet then you may also add protein shakes that act as diet supplements.

Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are the principle source of energy for muscles and contribute to consistent weight increase. Potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice and other wholegrain products... these all contribute to your daily carbohydrate allowance which should be 3-4 grams per kg of bodyweight in a 24-hour period.

Ever wondered what happens if you eat too many carbohydrates? If you ingest more carbohydrates than you need, the remaining sugar gets stored in your muscles and can be used as reserve for when you are doing intense workouts.

Healthy Fats

Along with carbohydrates and proteins, a supply of healthy fats is really important in muscle building.

Unsaturated fatty acids are the best and come from plant oils such as flax and coconut, fish (including cod and salmon), walnuts and avocados.

No more junk food if you want to see fast progress.
Food is power and energy, select your diet wisely if you want to get the best results. Photo Source: Unsplash

The Benefits Of Eating Right After A Body Strengthening Workout

Working out is essential to staying healthy and achieving our dream body.

Whether you are a novice or a frequent gym-goer turning to body building for personal or health reasons, having a fitness goal and nutrition plan is so very important to your success. What's more, without these targets, it can be find to hard motivation (especially if you are feeling frustrated that you can't see results - yet you need to have realistic steps to keep your journey positive).

Despite our best intentions, if we don’t eat well and workout regularly we will not have the body that we have dreamed of.

It is also really important to organise your workout sessions around your nutrition needs. For example, if you are eating three meals a day, then you may wish to head to the gym an hour or two before one of these meals. If, however, you are seeking to gain weight by eating 5 meals a day, you may find it difficult to find times to work out when you haven't just eaten (and it's hard to be on top form when you feel full and bloated).

You probably already know that it is really important to eat enough calories (and the correct types of calories and nutrients, as detailed above) to offset the amount you are burning off or converting into muscle, but did you know that you should be timing your calorie intake in a particular way?

Experts suggest that, to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and to aid the recovery of your muscles after a burn, then you should be eating the proper amount of carbs and protein within 45 minutes to 2 hours of completing the exercise session. Missing this window on a regular basis can slow your progress right down and even lead to unintentional poor health.

Just one of the reasons for not skipping a meal after your workout is this:

"Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged ( 1 , 2 ). After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster." - Healthline.Com

It would be a terrible shame to do all that hard work on building up your muscles only to allow them to become damaged because they are craving energy?

How To Build Muscle Eat After A Weight Training Session?

If you have eaten a pre workout meal, then the timing for the post workout meal becomes less urgent. If however, you have not eaten a pre-workout meal then the urgency for the eating your post workout meal is elevated. All high protein foods are perfect for your post workout meal. Try to find a sustainable protein source like grass-fed animals or animal products.

If you are hoping to lose weight or to lose fat and increase muscle mass effectively, you should make sure to include a pre and post workout meal into your bodybuilding routine. This will make sure you maximise muscle gain and train the physiology of your muscles to respond well to your fitness method.

The anabolic window is a period of time after working out that your body is either eating itself (catabolic state i.e. fat loss/weight loss) or building itself (an anabolic state). Within this window which is said to be between 30 minutes and 1 hour after working out. On the bodybuilding diet, you should consume protein-rich foods and carbohydrate-rich meals to refuel your body enough to build your muscle.

The digestion time of a piece of chicken is on average 4 hours and protein shakes are digested quickly much faster. Perfect for the fast inject of protein, essential amino acid and carb.

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Eggs are easy to use for protein diets
Eggs contain vitamins and minerals plus a highly digestible source of protein. Photo Source: Unsplash

What Are The Best Foods To Incorporate Into Your Body Building Diet Plans?

What you eat matters as all food is not created equal. For building muscle, it is well known that increasing your protein intake is essential. As well as eating a balanced diet. But when you are weight training and working out to build muscle, you also need to up your nutritious calorie intake.

To eat your best diet, we need to include healthy diet foods from all of the food groups.

  1. Carbohydrates provide energy, which can be found in pasta, bread, and rice.
  2. Proteins to provide the essential growth and repair of the body, which can be found in meat, fish, and eggs.
  3. Lipids (Fats and oils) to provide us with insulation within the body, which can be found in Butter, oil, nuts, and seeds.
  4. Whole wheat dietary fiber to provide roughage to keep food moving through the gut, which can be found in vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal, and bran.
  5. Vitamins and minerals to provide maintenance for the health, which can be found in dairy, fruit, and vegetables. Including essential amino acids.
  6. Water to provide the much-needed help to the cells and make fluids in the body, which can be found in pure form, in juice, some foods or milk.

Once you have built up a stable foundation of nutrition which works for you, then you can begin to tweak your diet plan based on your fitness goals. For example, the nutritional plans for someone who wants to burn fat but not build muscle, raise their metabolism but maintain their weight or build muscle and lose fat. Would likely be eating very different meals throughout the day.

As an example, if you wanted to build muscle and lose fat, you could incorporate low calorific content and high protein diets into your day. A popular measure for this is to add roughly 2 grams of protein per kg of lean body mass or 1 gram per pound of body weight.

Include these healthy foods in your meal plan, foods such as:

  • Lean meats such as chicken, whose protein index is quite high for the low number of calories it includes. This makes it an excellent staple for the bodybuilder. Some well-known bodybuilders like actually make chicken shakes to be able to get enough protein into their diet. They are often quoted as saying that because they have to eat so often during the day, they actually get tired of chewing so mix their meals into shakes. Turkey also makes good sources of protein. Now that is dedication.
  • Sweet potato has a low glycemic index (a low glycemic index measures the effect food has on your blood), which is excellent for post workout nutrition because it won't spike your energy levels. The sweet potato is one of Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnsons staples and is included in his high protein diet plan as the carb portion of his food. The sweet potato while not low carb, is very starchy and delicious also it has a perfectly balanced carb to fibre ratio which means that after a workout. This is less likely to turn to fat, it keeps you fuller longer thanks to the fibre and will replenish your energy stores over a balanced period of time.
  • Green vegetables are not just right for you, but they also are full of high-quality vitamins, minerals, and water. Veggies are also low in calories and have good fibre content, keeping your energy balanced and maintaining the feeling of fullness. A good ration of green vegetables is popular in bodybuilding diets and plant-based diets. Perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Egg Whites are great muscle food because the protein in egg whites are easily absorbed into the body. They are high in vitamins and minerals but low in carbs and fat, which make them a uniquely high source of protein. Many bodybuilding diets add fat-free egg whites into the protein diet in different ways including egg white shakes. Great for low carb diets, for weight loss and lean mass. Can help with losing belly fat.
  • Fish is high in fat which seems to break the rules, but the fat in fish is one of the healthy fats in the way of omega 3 fatty acids. Cold water fish like cod, salmon, and tuna are high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids which support muscle growth. Avoid saturated fats.
  • Beans/Legumes like lentils are a powerhouse of protein and fiber and great for all bodybuilders including the vegetarian and vegan bodybuilding diet. The high fiber content of beans proves that meat and fish is not the only significant source of protein. Because beans and legumes have such a high fibre content, they help to clear the bowel regularly which helps with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, supplements and nutrients in general within the body.

Bonus: Supplement

  • Whey Protein is a protein powder supplement and meal replacement, not a food source. It has the macronutrients needed be a fantastic muscle protein. It is one of the best proteins shake sources so it should be added to your list. This protein shake is easy to prepare and supports you with the amount of protein required throughout the day. This can be made 3+ time a day to ensure you are getting your full protein requirement for the day. Whey protein will support serious muscles gains and is why many bodybuilders incorporate it into their diets. If on a vegan diet or you are not eating / can not support consuming dairy, you can incorporate a protein supplement made from whole grains like soybeans. You can boost your after workout smoothies with protein sources that include a fruit vegetable base and spirulina, walnuts, almonds, peanut sources or other whole food protein alternatives. Although nuts are high in fat, again they are full of the good fats which in moderation help you in the long run.

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Animal products are not the only proteins
A vegan bodybuilders diet is plant based but very effective. Photo Source: Unsplash

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So in summary, if you are serious about gaining muscle, you must ensure that you learn about athlete and bodybuilding nutrition and how it affects your fitness goals and body weight. You can do this by yourself or with a nutritionist or dietitian who will be able to create for you the healthiest eating plan.

This will be a great option if you don’t know how much protein you need on the bodybuilding diet or how many calories to include to get the most optimal results. The nutritionist will be able to align your protein needs with your body weight to ensure that you are boosting your inclusion of muscle building foods.

Search for "fitness classes near me" and get some personalised advice on your diet.

While bodybuilding supplements, high-intensity cardio and lifting weights are essential. A muscle building diet should be a nutrient-rich diet, full of foods that have high-quality protein to support your bodybuilding diet goals. Whatever your fitness goal, your eating habits will be equally important to the workouts that you do. Diet tips to shred fat and define muscle: Goodbye junk food consumption (unhealthy), Hello bodybuilding diet full of complete protein, carbs and healthy fats (healthier). On the bodybuilder's diet, you will be eating at the right times, throughout the day (including post-workout nutrition) you will consume more calories per day to avoid losing weight. Your meal will be full of the best protein that you can source, and you will exclude heavily processed foods. Your food choices matter, enjoy it!

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Daniel

A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.