Your body is a marvel, breaking down tissues and bones and replacing them. When you work out, exercising causes protein within the muscles to break down and build up at a faster rate than average.
If you’re looking to build more muscle, your primary focus needs to be on weightlifting and nutrition. Bodybuilding is more of a lifestyle change, as it means that you have to pay attention to your time in the gym or your time at home with free weights and outside of your workouts. If you want to maximize your results, your diet plays a key role since the wrong foods can hinder your bodybuilding goals.
In order for your diet to complement and support your muscle-building efforts, there are certain things you need to consider and determine. The below guide should assist you in understanding your nutritional needs more efficiently so that you can have a much more effective workout that produces genuine results for your muscles.
Find Your Body Type
There are a few different body types, and you must know which type you are to plan your workout and diet around that. The three different body types are:
- Endomorph: more fat is found around the waist, hips, and thighs, with wider hips in women more specifically. Slow metabolism but fast development of muscle and fat.
- Ectomorph: more petite body with long limbs and lower body fat, with a slower weight gain.
- Mesomorph: more athletic, usually powerful arms, legs, and smaller wast with higher muscle mass and a higher success of building muscle.
The experts at the WTHN acupuncture clinic in NYC states that understanding your body type should help you know where your tendency to put on weight is and help you when creating a workout and nutrition plan. Bodybuilding is different from powerlifting, and it involves wanting to develop a balanced, muscular, and lean physique. You can research different types of weights, programs, and bodybuilding styles to see what will fit your goals within your fitness journey.
Bulking and Cutting Phases
Many bodybuilders start with two “seasons” of eating, more commonly known as the bulking and cutting phases. During the bulking, you would eat a more high-calorie and protein-filled diet, lifting weights intensely to build your muscle. The bulking phase lasts from about six months to a couple of years, depending on how long it takes to build your muscle.
The cutting part of the phase focuses on losing more fat while maintaining muscle mass. You would change your diet and exercise during this time, eating less to shed the body fat and become leaner, ensuring that you keep your muscle. At most, the cutting phase is usually only for a few months to a year.
Diet and Nutrition for Bodybuilders
Working for your muscle size to increase means that you need more protein, at least at first and especially if you are just beginning your strength training. This is because protein plays a significant role in bodybuilding since it helps build your muscle tissue.
But how much protein should you be consuming each day? You want to shoot for at least half in grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Ideally, a more specific target is .73 grams of protein for each pound of body weight.
The process of protein synthesis takes proteins from your food and turns them into muscle. Most people tend to consume more protein for dinner, instead of spreading it out throughout the day. Think of your body as a campfire – it needs fuel to keep it lit and going all day, so you should view your protein as something to intake with every meal to keep losing body fat and increase your muscle mass.
For example, if you’re planning to work out three to four times each week, your body will be building new muscles every hour, breaking down and repairing muscles as well. So, every meal counts – if you can break up meals into three to six times per day, ensuring that they are rich in protein.
When you become a more long-term and consistent weight lifter, the protein synthesis will happen sooner, so the protein you eat before and after your workouts is more vital. In addition, you might consider protein supplements to help gain more muscle if you’re still looking to bulk up.
Protein-Rich Foods and Meals
There are many various foods with combinations of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Leucine is the most important amino acid to help develop muscle, and it takes about two to three grams of leucine to get the anabolic effect.
Servings of meat and poultry typically contain at least two grams of leucine. For example, having a serving of fish, a cup of yogurt, a couple of glasses of milk, or three eggs gives you almost 2 grams, whereas a serving of cottage cheese or scoop of whey protein gives you 3 grams leucine.
Fat and Carbohydrates
While protein is essential, do not forget to incorporate fats and carbs within your nutrition plan. Eating carbohydrates before and after lifting workouts gives you energy and helps push nutrients to your muscle cells. In addition, carbohydrates spare proteins, giving the body something else to break down besides muscle tissue for energy, preventing muscle loss.
While fat is slower to digest, but also provides energy and is stored throughout the body. Dietary fats are essential for bodybuilders to help keep your heart beating, aiding growth and development and mineral absorption. Even though you are working towards fat loss, fats still play a role in your stamina, performance, and recovery.
Put it Together and Build Muscle
When you are eating, and strength training to look better, leaner, and gain more muscle, the total calories that you are eating also matter in the breakdown of macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Bodybuilding has several health benefits, including following a healthy eating pattern with nutrient-dense foods in a balanced amount. The easiest way to determine how many calories you need is by taking these measures:
- Weigh yourself a few times per week, recording what you eat using a calorie tracking app if possible. If your weight stays the same, the number of calories you are eating is for maintaining – not losing or gaining weight.
- While bulking, work to increase your calorie intake by around 15%, and then decrease your calories the opposite way (for a total of 30%) during the cutting phase.
- Frequently check your body fat percentage and macronutrient needs as you grow muscle and get leaner. Set your goals for where you want to be ahead of time, and work with a trainer or nutritionist to ensure that you have a plan to stick to for as long as it takes.
Consulting with a registered dietitian or nutritionist for bodybuilding assistance is the best way for them to help determine your nutritional needs and strength training workout regiment. Including various nutrient-rich foods across the food groups will help sustain your energy and help you build muscle over time.
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