You may be like a lot of other people out there.You want to get huge. You want arms like Arnold, delts like Cutler and a back like Coleman.
You look up the routines they use and try to really push it when you get to the gym.
After a while you are putting together some great workouts, you get a pump every time you are in the gym, and you drink your protein shakes after every workout but no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get bigger.
For most people, the reason they aren’t getting jacked is because their nutrition is not where it needs to be. The foods you eat are one of the most important things for your gains. You simply can’t get massive if you aren’t eating enough of the right foods often enough.
Bodybuilding Diet for Gaining: The Basics
If you want to get big, you need to EAT, and when I say eat, I mean you need to eat a lot.
Putting on size ultimately comes down to eating enough calories. Your body cannot make something out of nothing and if the fuel to create muscle is not there, your body cannot magically create muscle out of nothing.
With so much advice on the what is the best mass building diet, it can get pretty confusing to know what you should be eating and what you should be avoiding. Is it better to do a dirty bulk or should you be bulking clean?
The fact is that a cookie-cutter nutrition plan will only get you so far and if you want to take your gains past the beginner stage you will need to know what will work best for your body.
Determining exactly how many calories your body needs will take some trial and error though and I’ll cover that a little more in Part 2 of this article.
If you look at the diet plans of the top bodybuilders you will notice that they all have different diet plans with different foods, different meal timings and different macros but they adhere to the same basic principles. Let’s take a look at what some of the legends did with their diet.
Let take a look at what the biggest icon of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended as far as foods. The 7-time Mr. Olympia would primarily focus on eating whole, natural foods and avoiding foods that were too heavily processed. Some of the principles he recommended are:
- Eat 5-6 smaller meals a day
- Eat carbs half an hour after exercising
- Eat 30 to 50 grams of protein with each meal every 3 hours
- Not avoid saturated fats because they raise hormone levels
- Eat no more than 3 eggs a day
- Substitute beef and pork with chicken and fish
- Avoid sugar — it contains empty calories; eat fruits and vegetables for carbs instead
- Use supplements and protein shakes to get the required daily amount of protein
Eating many meals makes since so you can provide your body with a constant stream of calories and protein and getting carbs after your workout can help to raise insulin which helps your protein uptake.
A mistake that a lot of beginners make is to try and avoid fat and cholesterol, but they are necessary for the production of testosterone so it is counter-productive to avoid them.
It was said that in his early days his post workout meal included a whole chicken and a pitcher of beer. Liquid meals which included eggs and ice cream were also supposedly on his list. I am not sure of his reasoning behind eating no more than 3 eggs a day. Eggs are a great source of protein and have a high biological value, but who can argue with his success. Arnold ate a lot of good muscle building foods. To get some great recipes click here.
Let’s compare this to the bodybuilding diet followed by 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. Coleman has changed a lot over the years and he’s published his daily menu for building muscle on a few occasions. One version includes cheese grits along with chicken breast, egg whites and beef.
He has also shown his food intake during each of his workout videos. In one video he eats tons of hamburger with lots barbeque sauce on everything and drinks a Sprite/ grape juice mix, which are not really the most common foods when you think of eating clean.
At the end of the day his calories are around 5500, his protein consumption is 546g, his carbs are 474 grams and his fats 150g. This is a ratio of about 40/ 35/25 for proteins, carbs and fats respectively.
Some of the guidelines he shoots for include 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (600 grams per day and 100 grams per meal.) This is more than most bodybuilders and it have obviously worked well for him. He eats 6 meals a day and his primary sources of protein are chicken, steak and turkey.
Another bodybuilder that has shared his nutrition plans on many occasions is 4-time Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler. His diet has changed over the years and he is constantly monitoring his progress.
His calorie goal is about 4,700 per day and tries to keep his macros around 40/40/20.Cutler also eats a lot of chicken and brown rice and says that about 5-6 hours of his day are spent cooking and eating. That is an insane amount of time per day and is much harder to do consistently than any workout.
Jay even wakes up at night to eat more because he says he sometimes loses up to 10 pound while he is sleeping. Most of his carbs come from simple carbs because he say his size decreases with complex carbs.
Some of his older nutrition plans included a lot of oatmeal and sweet potatoes but his more recent plans seems to have replaced them with white and brown rice. He eats up to 2 pounds of chicken breast and beef per day and opts for 2 cups of egg white in the morning with Ezekiel toast.
Six-Time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates would consume up to 6,000 calories during the off-season when trying to build muscle. Yates recommends 1- 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and recommends double that for the carbohydrates.
His fat recommendation is at around a third of the protein consumption. Someone eating 300 grams of protein would get 600 grams of carbs and 100 grams of fat for a total of 4500 calories.
When preparing for a contest he did not drop his carbs as much as a lot of people do because his energy levels suffered.
While Coleman and Cutler did a few things that were outside the norm, the meal plan that Yates used seems a lot more traditional with some very sound principles utilized.
The point of this first section is that there is no one program that works for everyone.
These elite-level bodybuilders got their results from different diet routines, different protein levels (1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight) and different meal timing , but they all had great results.
The big key is they evaluated how their bodies reacted to the variances in their macros, meal timing and food choices.
I’ll teach you how to start to creating your own plan in part 2.
In this 2-part series you’ll learn about what some of the top bodybuilders do for their nutrition and learn how to create your own diet for putting on size.