Ah, the kitchen – the make-or-break factor in every bodybuilder’s quest to build the perfect physique. Bragging about having a great meal plan might not sound as sexy as bragging about how much you can bench, but it’s definitely just as if not more important.
Simply put, if your diet sucks you’ll always be a skinny guy who looks like he doesn’t lift. Now, we are going to assume you are not some genetic freak who can get huge from eating pizza and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this).
Of course you have to have the right plan of action, make sure you are following a proven workout and nutrition plan for the best results. Take the 30 second survey to see which workout plan works best for your body type.
The 12 tips below have been proven to build great physiques time after time. As long as you follow them religiously you will build yourself a physique that is in the top 1% of men.
1 – Track Your Weight
While this isn’t the only indicator of change, it’s certainly an important one. You see, when you are looking at yourself in the mirror every day it can be hard to notice changes.
That’s why tracking your weight is helpful – it gives you an objective, measurable indicator of progress. It’s the only way to know if your calorie surplus is working properly otherwise it could take weeks or months to notice if your diet is working based on what you see in the mirror.
Weigh yourself 2-3 times per week in the morning after using the washroom. Track these numbers and don’t get too concerned over week-over-week progress but rather focus on the general trend over time.
It takes awhile to make progress and a single week can be thrown off by carrying more or less water weight or even what you ate the night before.
Your goal should be to gain 0.5-1.5 pounds per week. That might seem low, but over three months that will be 6-18 pounds. Over a year that’s 25-75 pounds! It will also ensure that you put on mostly muscle instead of lots of unsightly fat.
Remember that the further you go with bodybuilding the harder it will be to put on more muscle. Don’t expect to put on 20 pounds of muscle next year if you have already been training for 5 years.
The goods news is that while it might be harder to put on more mass as you go farther, it will also be easier to stay in shape since all that muscle will be burning a ton of calories around the clock!
2 – Consume a Calorie Surplus
In order to build mass you need to consume more calories than you burn – it’s as simple as that. If you consistently eat at maintenance calories you won’t build any muscle and your hard work at the gym will go to waste.
So how can you make sure you are eating a calorie surplus? You need to track how many calories you’re consuming each day and measure the corresponding weight gain. If you consistently eat 2,400 calories per day and your weight stays the same you will know that you need to increase calorie intake.
A lot of people are tempted to just guess how many calories they consumed, but this is not ideal.
It’s important to know the exact amount as we are aiming for a specific calorie surplus. Too large a surplus and you will gain fat, too little and you will barely make any gains. Once you know the specific calorie surplus you are consuming and the corresponding impact on the scale you can adjust it to hit the ideal weight gain target of 0.5-1.5 pounds per week.
3 – Consume Lots of Healthy Fats
Why are healthy fats so important? For starters, they contain 9 calories per gram – twice the amount contained in carbohydrates and protein. Therefore consuming healthy fats is a great way to achieve your calorie surplus without stuffing your face around the clock.
In addition to being high in calories, these fats contain a ton of health benefits. They improve cardiovascular health, boost cognitive function and work as anti-inflammatories which is crucial for training success.
Saturated fats specifically will help boost testosterone production and keep those pesky estrogen levels down.
Fatty foods also have the benefit of being delicious. Some examples of fat sources include avocado, fish, olive oil, animal meat and egg yolks. Most people consider it a lot easier to eat these foods than foods like chicken breast and rice.
It’s worth noting however that you should always avoid trans fat as they do not contain the same benefits as their unsaturated and saturated counterparts.
4 – Track Protein Intake
Most people at this point know the importance of consuming lots of protein. This is because protein is crucial in rebuilding and repairing damaged muscle tissue. In addition to a calorie surplus and a resistance training program, consuming a high protein diet is essential for anyone looking to build mass.
When it comes to protein, the source matters. High-quality animal protein sources should be prioritized as they are loaded with essential amino acids. Aim for 30-40 grams per meal from sources like egg whites, chicken breast, beef sirloin, greek yogurt, whey protein, turkey breast, tuna, etc.
Intake should fall between 1-1.5g per pound of bodyweight – going above this level has not shown to yield any advantages for building mass. In fact, it can actually make it more difficult to build more mass since it makes you feel so full!
Therefore, once you know you have enough protein to hit your daily target get the rest of your calories from complex carbs and healthy fats.
5 – Eat More Frequently
Chances are if you are new to bulking you will be eating a lot more food than you are used to. Instead of trying to get all those calories from 3 meals stretch it out to 5-6. That means eating more frequent, smaller meals.
In fact, even if you need to switch to 7-8 meals to hit your targets it will be a lot easier than getting it from just 3.
It will take some getting used to but once you work the meals into your daily routine you will find it easy to do. To make the process easier for yourself try preparing all of your meals in advance so all you need to do is grab a container from the fridge and eat.
6 – Use a Food Scale
It can be hard to determine how many calories we are consuming given that we don’t know the exact quantity of the food. That’s where a food scale comes in. We know 1oz of almonds has 163 calories, but how do we know if we ate 1oz?
Simplest way to figure it out is by measuring on a food scale. Often people are surprised they under-estimate the calorie content of foods, particularly high-fat foods that are calorie dense.
7 – Eat the Right Carbs
At this point you probably already know about the importance of complex carbs. They pack tons of fibre keeping you feeling energetic and full for longer. However, eating too much fibre can actually be a bad thing as it leaves you feeling too full to eat enough calories to hit your daily target. Therefore, it helps to work some simple carbs into your diet so you won’t feel so full.
The best time to consume simple carbs is right before and after you hit the gym.
These carbs are fast-digesting so they quickly make their way to your muscles providing extra fuel. They help enhance recovery and muscle repair given that complex carbs can take awhile to get to the areas where they are needed. Consuming a granola bar, fruit, or white rice after working out is a great way to get that much-needed insulin boost.
Keep in mind, however, that simple carbs should be avoided late at night when an insulin spike can lead to fat gain.
8 – Don’t Just Eat Clean Foods
While clean foods in general are good for you, sometimes it’s helpful to work in some “dirty” calories. That’s because clean foods tend to be lower in calories, making it harder to achieve your calorie surplus objective. Instead, work in some calorie-dense foods like pasta, oats, bagels and nut butters.
These foods are also loaded with nutrients you might not be getting from your typical bodybuilding foods. Just remember not to go overboard with these otherwise you might put on some extra fat.
9 – Drink More Shakes
It seems like just about everyone who is into bodybuilding drinks shakes and for good reason. They make for an easy way to boost calories and are much easier to consume than whole foods.
You can make them very calorie dense by adding in some fat sources like peanut butter or almond butter along with fruits, oats, protein, milk, yogurt, etc. These are also great for people to bring to the office and leave in the fridge to be consumed later while you work.
10 – Have a Cheat Meal Once per Week
Every week, make sure you treat yourself to a cheat meal. Don’t worry about counting calories, nutrient splits, etc. Just focus on getting lots of calories from a food you love but don’t usually get to eat.
Ideally have your cheat meal on a training day so you can at least put these calories to work for you. Eating a cheat meal will help keep you sane not to mention it’s an easy way to hit your calorie surplus for the day.
11 – Don’t Skip the Most Important Meals
Bodybuilding can feel like a full-time job, particularly if you are doing everything by the book. It takes around-the-clock focus and commitment. On that note, there are a few meals every day that you want to make sure you don’t skip.
They are absolutely essential for a variety of reasons
Breakfast – When you wake up in the morning chances are you are going to be hungry. After all, you haven’t had anything to eat for the past 8 hours at least. That means you should be eating within 30-45 minutes of waking up. That will provide your muscles and brain with the fuel they need to get off to a solid start. Don’t be one of those people who skips breakfast – it’s without a doubt the most important meal of the day and skipping it will hurt your progress big time.
Post-Workout – While it’s not essential for you to drink a protein shake right after working out, it’s still an important meal to get a kickstart to the recovery progress. After working out you will want to consume some simple carbs along with a fast-digesting protein. One great way to do this is to bring a shake with you to the gym. By consuming whey protein with simple carbs you will get those crucial nutrients to your muscles when they need them the most.
Last Meal of the Day – Remember how we said that you are basically going 8+ hours without eating during the night? Well you are going to want to make sure you set yourself up with the nutrients you need to make sure you don’t go catabolic overnight. A slow-digesting protein like casein protein works great late at night along with some healthy fats. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are popular sources of casein protein and can be mixed with peanut or almond butter to improve the taste and boost the total calories.
12 – Make sure your testosterone booster is legit
Some of you guys have been really skeptic on why we constantly talk about test boosters. I get that it might be annoying especially if you’ve never actually tried a product like that before. You’re probably just thinking “why would I even need this?”
Well guys to be honest we would never recommend something that we know wouldn’t benefit you. That would be wrong.
I hope that one day some of you at least will believe us because we’re in this together and we truly want the best for you and we truly believe that you will feel better once you start taking care of your testosterone levels.
Check this conversation out from our Facebook page as an example:
But anyway, let’s keep going with this article:
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13 – Be Patient
Gaining muscle is just as difficult if not more difficult than losing fat. Remain patient and remember that if you are doing this the right way it will take time. If it were easy we’d all look like Mr. Olympia contestants. Make sure you train hard and eat the right foods.
Also, track your progress obsessively and make the necessary adjustments. If you do the things we’ve outlined in this article you will build yourself a great physique.
When it comes to building mass, your diet is absolutely crucial. Most people focus on their workouts and give little thought to what they are actually putting into their bodies.
Well, as any bodybuilder will tell you nutrition is the most important factor regardless of whether you are trying to build mass or cut fat. If you are consuming a great diet then the gains will come, just stick to the tips in this article and you will be well on your way to building yourself a great physique.