Eat to grow. It’s as simple as that. Bodybuilding requires the application of consistent nutrition all throughout the day so that the essential nutrients required for growth are present at predetermined times. Typically speaking, those times vary anywhere from every two to three hours versus your standard three square meals a day. Why more meals you ask? Well, the more muscle you have and the more muscle growth you are initiating via your training and sleeping, the more calories your body will need to support those efforts. Now that you understand meal frequency, what foods should you eat during those meals? Without putting together a specific meal plan, here are my top five go to foods for bodybuilding purposes.
Our body needs energy to perform the daily tasks we ask of it. The first source of energy our body will look for is glycogen, which comes from glucose, which we get from our nutrition in the form of carbohydrates. The best source of carbohydrates to get this from, so that sustained energy will occur, is oatmeal. It is a complex carbohydrate, which means it is slowly digested in the body and releases energy over a longer period of time, which makes it an awesome choice for your first meal of the day.
It’s hard to find a better source of protein than eggs. Some will say it is the perfect food for bodybuilders because of it’s very high protein content per measured weight and its ability to digest quickly. The digestion rate is important as you want to get the aminos from the protein into the blood stream as quickly as possible and you don’t want to have the feeling of food sitting in your stomach for any length of time while it breaks down. If you want, you can simply eat the egg white only, but unless you are on a very restrictive dietary protocol and you’re trying to keep your fat intake down, then I say eat the whole thing.
#3: Green Vegetables
You were probably always told to eat your vegetables when you were at the dinner table as a kid and chances are, if you were like me, you didn’t. If I could go back in time and know what I know now, I would have probably eaten the veggies first. Here’s the thing with vegetables, especially greens; yeah they can sometimes taste terrible but what they’ll do for your digestive track by way of their fibrous nature is second to none. And because of that, the protein that you consume will be used much more efficiently and your body’s ability to absorb the protein becomes much better. Therefore, eat your veggies!
Protein, protein and more protein is all that you’ll see on my grocery list as this macronutrient group is most responsible for supporting hypertrophy. Chicken has been a bodybuilding staple for as long as bodybuilding has been a thing. Reason being, its high protein content per measured weight is incredible, it’s very low in fat, digests relatively fast and you can make it taste really good with added spices and condiments. It also goes well with just about every carb source you can think of. You should also note that it won’t stink up your house either when you cook it like some other really good sources of protein can do such as fish and even steak.
Bodybuilders understand the need for energy and understand that because of some insulin sensitivity issues that many of us have, we can’t always look to carbs for energy as it may contribute to the accumulation of unwanted fat. So instead, we look to the highest calorie per gram macronutrient group in healthy fats. The best, most enjoyable source of healthy fats to consume, in my opinion, are nuts. Consuming natural almonds and walnuts along with eating copious amounts of natural peanut butter not only gives you the energy you’re looking for but also some sanity when you’re dieting hard because these items just taste good.
Now, as a bodybuilder, you have to get used to the idea of spending a lot of your time in a grocery store, walking up and down the isles looking for bodybuilding friendly foods and pushing that damn cart all over the place. Most times this happens right after the gym when you’re hungry so chances are you’ll be spending even more time than what you have to just simply looking at all of the glorious items you have to choose from and thinking about eating all of the foods you shouldn’t be. Luckily, you’ll have probably just finished your post-workout cardio so you’ll already have your Super Freaks on so a few extra steps won’t hurt you.
The most important thing to remember about nutrition is that one diet won’t fit all and all foods weren’t created equal. Find what works best for you, stick with it until it doesn’t work anymore and then find something else. If you’re not paying attention to how your body responds to your nutrition, then you aren’t really a bodybuilder.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.