Working out stimulates your muscles to grow, but you cannot capitalize on this effect without proper nutrition. If you regularly train with resistance, your requirement for protein is higher than that of the average population. Protein is the raw material your body needs, to repair and build your muscles, after a training session. Properly planning your meals, and ensuring an adequate intake of protein, is essential if you want to make progress as a bodybuilder.
As a bodybuilder, you need around one gram of protein per pound of body weight. No matter how hard you train, there is little evidence that you will benefit from consuming more than this amount. The exact amount of protein you require depends on your weight, and the heavier you are the more protein you will need. Use nutritional information to check the protein content of foods, and choose a portion size that is appropriate to your own size.
When you wake up in the morning, your body is in the fasting state and will not have received nutrients for a number of hours. This makes breakfast an important meal, and consuming enough protein is crucial to offsetting the muscle-degrading effects of the fasting state. Served together with a complex carbohydrate, such as oatmeal, and some fruit for vitamins, eggs and smoked fish are both rich sources of high quality protein that would not be out of place at the breakfast table. Together, these foods will satisfy your need for protein and energy until you next meal.
Consistently consuming a high-protein lunch can be challenging, especially if you usually eat lunch at work or college. You cannot rely on the cafeteria to provide meals that are acceptable to a bodybuilder. Prepare lunch at home and store it an insulated container, to ensure that you have the kind of foods you need, when eating away from home. Chicken breast or turkey salad, with some sweet potato, is a simple but high-protein option that is suitable for a packed lunch.
Your muscles grow when you rest, so it is vital that you consume sufficient protein in your last meal before bed. You will probably have more preparation time before dinner, compared to your first two meals, and you will be more likely to stick to your diet if you cook something appetizing. Sirloin steak or shrimp can help you meet your dinner-time protein requirements. Stir-fried with some fibrous vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, and flavored with garlic, ginger and soy sauce, these foods will make for a rewarding meal after a day's work and training.
- "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition"; Contemporary Issues in Protein Requirements and Consumption fo Resistance Trained Athletes; J. Wilson, et al. 2006
- "Journal of Sports Science"; Protein and Amino Acids for Athletes; K.D. Tipton, et al.; 2004
- "Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding"; Robert Kennedy; 2008