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Bodybuilding: Diet for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss
Bodybuilding can be defined as the pursuit of lean muscle mass. The importance of a proper diet in achieving this goal cannot be understated. In fact, many experts argue that diet can account for up to 90% of a person’s success in building their body. Luckily, there’s an easy-to-follow meal plan that works like magic to burn fat and build muscle.
In this day and age of fad diets and fad diets and so on, it’s important to note that bodybuilding involves a lifestyle. Regular, intense and goal-oriented training sessions combined with a smart approach to nutrition will promote the development of the muscular physique most trainees desire. What is needed is discipline, patience, tenacity and perseverance. All of these attributes are beneficial and can lead to success not only in physical goals, but also in personal and professional pursuits.
When an individual adopts bodybuilding as a lifestyle, physical improvements can be sustained over the long term. A steady, consistent, daily approach will avoid the agony of short-term weight loss followed by rapid weight gain and the accompanying depression and feeling of hopelessness. Training and eating like a bodybuilder works, is addictive and ultimately gives a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
We like to adhere to the KISS (keep it simple, smart guy) principle when it comes to meal plans. So we won’t get too technical. We will explain it just for you. First of all, you should eat smaller meals, 5-6 times a day, 2 1/2 to 3 hours apart. This will keep your metabolism active and provide your muscles (stimulated by short, intense workouts) with the nutrients they need for growth. These meals will consist of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Proper protein intake will vary based on age, gender, goals, and so on. In general, each meal should contain between 25 and 50 grams of protein. A rule of thumb is that a healthy male looking to promote lean muscle mass should ingest 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Therefore, if your body weight is 200 lbs, a daily intake of 300 grams of protein would be required (6 meals with 50 grams of protein each). The key is that if you train hard, you need protein.
Sources of protein include lean meats, fish, egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese and whey protein. Avoid fatty meats and try to grill your meats and not fry them in fat. Remember to include a selection of proteins with each meal.
When it comes to carbohydrates, it is essential to distinguish between the different types of carbohydrates. For this discussion we will identify 3 different types of carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates include potatoes, sweet potatoes, breads, grains, cereals, pasta and rice; simple carbohydrates include most fruit and vegetable carbohydrates which include most green leafy vegetables and greens.
Fats are also a necessity, but should come from the following sources: extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts (almonds are best), and fish oil. The diet is very simple. For each meal, choose a serving from the protein group, the complex carbohydrate group, and the vegetable carbohydrate group. A good rule of thumb is that a serving size for your protein and carbs should be about the size of your fist. Eat a portion of fat in 2-3 meals a day and have only simple carbohydrates in the morning for breakfast and immediately after training. In fact, having a post-workout shake with whey protein and a simple carbohydrate like a banana is key. Take it to the gym with you and do it while the sweat is still on your body.
Now to fine-tune this diet you can do this: If you are looking to gain muscle mass and don’t worry too much about losing fat, eat as above. However, if you want to speed up fat burning, do not eat complex carbohydrates in the last 2-3 meals of the day. Lean protein (chicken breast or fish) and salads or chunky greens (broccoli and asparagus are excellent choices) will do the trick.
Let’s go one step further. Here’s a magic formula for extreme lean muscle mass and fat burning. For three days in a row, come to hell or high water, eat only complex carbohydrates first thing in the morning (a serving of oatmeal will do) and right after your workout. On day four, eat a ton of carbs. Actually cheating on this day. Eat whatever you want, but make sure you’re eating enough protein and plenty of complex carbohydrates. This is the time to eat pizza, pasta, cake and so on.
These three days off and one day carbs have produced fantastic results for many bodybuilders. We like it because any cravings we can put off until our “carb” day (which isn’t that far in the future) and then indulge in that moment. The secret is to stay strict on low-carb days. This requires planning, preparation and discipline. You can do it. Once you start seeing the results you get from this carb manipulation, you’ll find it much easier to stick with it.
This meal plan should produce such dramatic results so quickly that your friends will be asking what you’re “doing.” The real secret is daily discipline. Take it one day at a time. Eat well according to the principles outlined above, juggle cab intake, and train with intensity by focusing on basic, heavy movements. This is the bodybuilding lifestyle. Commit and change your life, long-term and for the better.
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