I Started Bodybuilding…How Many Times A Day Should I Eat And What Should I Eat?

bodybuilding foodEarlier this week I received an email from Todd. Todd is 22 and recently started bodybuilding. He asked me the following: “I started bodybuilding…how many times a day should I eat and what should I eat?“, so I thought I’d answer his questions with this detailed article:

Bodybuilding is a long and painful process that requires proper nutrition, mental preparedness and a lot of hard work. It also takes times, so there is no room for slacking and quick fixes. Since you have already embarked on an effective workout routine, what remains is knowing what to eat and when to eat it. Read on for answers to all your questions.

The Best Bodybuilding Meal Schedule

It is important to note that as your activity level increases, your body’s demand for nutrients will also increase. Therefore, you must eat sufficient food every day to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to operate optimally. While you may be used to the standard three meals a day, I recommend between 5 to 8 meals per day. However, you should not assume that you need to eat more. All you need to do is split your three meals into six portions and take them at regular intervals of two to three hours.

bodybuilding meal scheduleFor instance, if you take your breakfast at 7am, you can take a mid morning meal at around 10am then lunch at 1pm. This should be followed by another meal at 4pm and another at 7pm. Before you go to bed, you can eat something nutritious to keep your digestive system busy before the next meal in the morning. These meals should contain all the essential nutrients; vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats that your body needs to perform optimally. Be sure to also drink one or two glasses of water between these meals.

Bodybuilding Nutrition

When you embark on a strict bodybuilding regimen, it is important that you up your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake. The right ratio for the proteins, carbohydrates and fats is 40:40:20. Finding a variety of carbohydrate and protein sources is the key to developing a successful bodybuilding nutrition program. Fortunately, this task is not as difficult as it sounds as it only requires a little bit of research.

40 40 20 ruleThe carbohydrates you consume are meant to provide the body with energy to power your muscles. When you consume food consisting of carbohydrates only, your energy levels will drop within the house and any excess carbohydrates will be converted to fat, which is undesirable. On the other hand, consuming a purely protein meal will deprive your body of energy. This will make it difficult for the body to convert the proteins into muscle tissue.

A balanced diet consisting of equal portions of high quality carbohydrates and proteins will give you the desired results, which include building muscle within a reasonable period of time. Since you are hyperactive, the standard restrictions on red meat and saturated fats do not apply to you, so you can eat as much steak as your bodybuilding nutrition plan would allow.

Bodybuilding Food Options

As mentioned earlier, you will need proteins, carbohydrates, fats an some vitamins to build muscles safely. The following are some food options to provide you with these nutrients.

i) Legumes

legumes

Beans, peas, lentils, tofu, soy beans, split beans and any other type of legume can provide you with enough proteins and carbohydrates to help you build muscle mass and strength. Most legumes can provide you with equal portions of carbohydrates and proteins. Beans are great for breakfast as well as lunch, but it should be combined with other sources of carbohydrates and fats to ensure that the recommended ratio of 40:40:20 is maintained.

ii) Animal Proteins

animal proteins

There are many types of plant proteins. They include; eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, fish, meat, butter, mutton, butter and pork among others. During the fitness regimen, you can eat several eggs per day as well as a sizable portion of beef or chicken. Basically, animal protein sources containing saturated fats may be consumed during the bodybuilding program. Full-fat dairy milk is also a great option as it contains special nutrients, such as whey protein, which can help you build muscle.
Drinking full-fat milk after exercising is highly recommended.

iii) Nuts

nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds contain a lot of fat, carbohydrates and proteins per ounce. For instance, roasted peanuts are not only tasty, but also nutritious. Snacking on roasted peanuts and groundnuts is a great way to eliminate salted snacks and processed foods from your diet. Alternatively, you can apply peanut butter on bread to get your carbs, protein and fats. Flax seeds, canola oil, almonds and olive oil are all great sources of fats, so be sure to include them in all your meals.

iv) Pasta, Bread and Grains

Pasta, Bread and Grains

The best sources of carbohydrates are grains. Consider adding bagels, bread, cooked barley, brown rice, bran muffin, oatmeal, macaroni, wheatgerm, spaghetti, wholegrain cereal, white rice, wild rice, sliced wholemeal bread and wholemeal pretzels in your diet.

v) Fruits

bodybuilding fruits

Except for avocados, most fruits only have trace quantities of fats. Most of them are rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Since fruits are seasonal, be sure to make the most of the in-season fruit. You can eat them whole or make fresh fruit juices from them. Apricots and grapefruits have the highest protein content in fruits. On the other hand, orange juice, pears, pineapples, bananas, grape juice and apples are the best sources of carbohydrates. In addition to these nutrients, fruits also provide the body with a lot of vitamins.

vi) Vegetables

bodybuilding vegetables

Your meals should also include a vegetable portion. Shredded cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbages, collard greens, butternut squash, broccoli, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, kale, mushrooms, green beans, garlic, chopped onions, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, mashed or boiled potatoes and tomato juice can all add some flavor and nutrients to your meals.

There’s a great product that goes more in-depth about bodybuilding food and it contains over 200 recipes. You can learn more about it here.

Supplementation

While these meals can supply the body with all the nutrients it needs to build muscle mass, it may sometimes be difficult for you to achieve your goals due to lack of time to find these foods and prepare them. You may also fail to meet your goals after following the recommended guidelines. In such cases, you may want to consider supplementing your meals with natural protein supplements. Whey proteins, which is extracted from milk, is a great example of protein supplements that can help you gain the desired muscle mass. Check out the 4 basic supplements to build muscle mass for more info.

Got more tips for Todd? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Comments
  1. Izam

    Hi Tom, great post! The link to look up the nutrient values for each food was very helpful, thanks a lot for sharing!

    • Tom

      No problem Izam :) I’m glad it helped you out!

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