Bodybuilding nutrition explained

People are always asking me how they can get bigger, or put a stone on, or add inches to their arms, and all such like questions. I have come to the conclusion that people are looking for a quick fix, a 2 week programme to achieve all their goals - or a tablet to swallow that will make their muscles big in an instant. Well this article is for all those dedicated bodybuilders who are willing to put hard work and dedication into developing their physiques.

Sweet Potatoes - A great source of complex carbohydrates

First off - your quest for massive muscles can be broken down to two parts: training  and nutrition. Now some people may put more emphasis on diet over training or vice versa - but to me this makes no sense, as it infers that if you were to have a good diet and do no training then you would be able to build muscle. Conversely if you were to train your ass off in the gym and eat sparingly then you would most probably lose weight, let alone build any muscle. Therefore my personal view on this, is that training and nutrition both play a 50/50 role in your quest for ultimate physique development. Thus you will need to pay equal attention to both training and eating.
So lets address the nutrition part first. How much protein, how much carbs, how much fat, how many meals, what types of foods? You may be wondering about all of these questions, so we will address each one. Now before we get in to the specifics of each one of these questions, I feel it necessary to point out that this article provides the information for you to BASE your diet plan on, not your actual diet plan. It is a guide only, the quantities of food and frequency of meals needed to build muscle can vary vastly for the individual, depending on several factors. For example different body types and metabolisms (genetics). What I mean by body types and metabolisms is how different people have different metabolisms, and how the amounts of food needed to build muscle can vary significantly from person to person. Do bear in mind though, that the more muscle you are building, the more protein you will need to eat, not only to maintain your current muscle mass, but also to enable your body to keep adding new muscle to your frame.
Right, so lets decide how much protein is required to eat on a daily basis. A good guide to deciding how much protein to eat is using the age old value of 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This equates to 300 grams of protein for a 200lbs bodybuilder. Again this is only a guide, it is best to experiment with this figure to see what works best for you. As for protein sources - there are two classes of protein: first class proteins and second class proteins. What this means is this: in human nutrition there are 22 amino acids, 8 of which are essential. The other 14 are non-essential. A first class protein contains all of these essential amino acids, a second class protein does not. What I mean by essential and non-essential, is that if your body is for some reason short on a non-essential  amino - this amino can be manufactured in the body from a combination of other amino acids. However if your body is short on an essential amino acid, it cannot manufacture it from the ones that are available. Therefore it is important to eat a first class protein every meal. Good protein sources to use would be: Chicken, Turkey, Steak, Fish, Eggs etc. The more proteins you combine in a meal the greater the amino acid profile you get, and hence the greater the muscle building effects of the meal. 
The fat in your diet should be kept to a minimum. However this does not mean that you should cut it out 100%. As a quick guide to what fats are desirable and which aren't, if a fat is solid at room temperature then you should keep clear of eating it. If however a fat is a liquid at room temperature - then it is much more desirable. Remember  a certain amount of fat is needed to absorb fat soluble vitamins, for your skin, your joints and also keep your muscles sensitive to insulin. Good sources of fats in your diet are, Extra Virgin Olive oil/Safflower oil/Flax oil or almond oil. A few egg yolks, NATURAL peanut butter and other nuts such as Cashews/Almonds/Walnuts, seeds, oily fish such as Mackerel or Salmon and avocado pears. An off-season intake of 60 - 100 grams of fats should be ample.

Natural Peanut butter - no added sugers or salt, provide an excellent source of "good" fats

Lastly, lets talk about carbohydrates. In my opinion today's bodybuilders don't eat enough carbohydrates, and eat too much protein. What I mean by this is that they aren't getting the ratio of proteins and carbohydrates in their diet correct. Although in this part of the article I am going to be talking about carbohydrates, I also feel it necessary to talk about proteins. Although it's the proteins in your diet that are simulated into muscle tissue - this process of protein synthesis is made more efficient by the amount of carbohydrates you eat. For example, lets say that you can assimilate 100 grams of protein per day. Then by all means eat 110 grams of protein, or even 120 grams per day. However if you were to eat say 200 grams of protein daily, this would be a waste, as you would only be assimilating half of this amount, the rest could be burnt as energy, go to waste, or even be stored as fat. So lets say you have decided to eat 110 grams of protein daily, how do you know that the protein you consume is being used for what it is meant to be used for (building muscle)? This will be determined by how much carbohydrates you eat. The amount of carbohydrates that you consume will determine at what state your body will be in, assuming that you are eating enough protein i.e. Thermogenic (fat burning), Anabolic (tissue building) or Repair (static - no growth). If you are eating enough carbohydrates to feed your brain, fuel your body with energy, keep your liver and muscles full with glycogen, then the protein that you are eating will be doing its desired job of repairing and building muscle tissue. Eat less carbohydrates and your body will have to break into the protein to fuel itself, and thus the muscle building effects will be lost. Thus when you are happy that you have your protein right - the only thing you should change between off-season and pre-contest is your carbohydrates and maybe your fat - depending on how clean your diet is off-season. As a rough guide for an off-season diet, I recommend eating at least double the amount, if not three times the amount of carbohydrates than protein.
This article is only a very basic guide for beginning bodybuilders, more advanced athletes will and should already have their diets finely tuned and tailored to meet their own metabolic requirements. Use this information as the bare bones of your diet - and please remember be consistent, if you think that you did well eating six meals for two days - then you are wrong. Try eating six meals for the rest of your bodybuilding life - then you have done well. Green beans - don't forget your veggies! A great source for natural vitamins/minerals and fibre.
Good Luck - PJ