Bodybuilding Nutrition for Beginners

29 June

Bodybuilding nutrition requires the proper amount of food in the correct macronutrient ratios to aid in muscle growth. It is best to eat 5-6 meals a day to supply a constant stream of nutrients to the muscles. The meals do not have to be large, they can be relative of a snack size. The idea is to eat every 2-3 hours, even if it’s just a snack. This also keeps the metabolism high to aid in fat burning.

The ideal macronutrient ratio for bodybuilding nutrition is 40/40/20, which is 40% each of carbohydrates and protein and 20% fat.

Complex carbohydrates should constitute the bulk of your carbohydrate intake. Compared to simple carbohydrates, they are slow digesting and therefore do not cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. They also help satiate your appetite so you do not overeat.


Examples of complex carbohydrates are unflavored oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat bread and tortillas, whole wheat pasta, and green vegetables.

Protein sources should be lean, meaning they contain very little fat. Dietary fat derived from animal sources is mostly saturated fat, the kind that is not good for your arteries. However, the one exception to this rule is fatty fish such as salmon. Fish contain essential fatty acids (EFA), which are not manufactured by the human body and must be supplied in the form of food or supplements.

Lean protein sources include chicken breast, lean ground turkey, lean ground beef, tuna packed in water, any type of fish, egg whites and low fat dairy products.

Fat should be kept to a minimum as it slows down digestion and if taken excessively can hinder the muscle’s rate of recuperation. The majority of fat intake should be unsaturated plant based fats, such as raw nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, natural peanut butter and fatty fish such as salmon.

Bodybuilding nutrition encourages spices and seasonings to add flavor to the food. Sugars should be avoided, but natural low calorie sweeteners such as Stevia are encouraged to add sweetness.

A typical day for bodybuilding nutrition will look like this.

Breakfast is a serving of complex carbohydrates and some protein. Examples are oatmeal with cinnamon and Stevia or one tablespoon of peanut butter, and an egg white omelet with vegetables or salsa.

Mid-morning snack can be a combination of protein and carbohydrates or just protein. Example is a protein shake, or an apple with one can of tuna.

Lunch is another combination of protein and carbohydrates. Examples are a turkey sandwich with small salad, or chicken breast, brown rice and serving of green vegetables.

Mid-day snack is usually also the pre-workout snack. It’s best to eat some simple carbohydrates or something that will digest quickly. Your pre-workout snack should be taken about 45 minutes before the weightlifting workout. Examples are a piece of fruit or yogurt.

A whey protein shake should be taken within 15 minutes after the workout is finished. Whey protein is very quick to digest and will start working to repair the muscle tissue almost immediately upon ingestion.

The post-workout meal, usually dinner, is the most important meal of the day for a bodybuilder. Within 1-2 hours after a workout, the muscles are starving for nourishment and this is the “window” of opportunity to feed them correctly. If not enough carbohydrates or protein are eaten, the muscles will not repair and grow at an optimal rate. Examples for dinner are chicken breast, brown rice and green vegetables, or turkey on whole wheat tortilla with salad.

The final meal of the day is usually a slow digesting protein, such as a casein protein shake. This type of protein will repair the muscles all night and allow a constant supply of nutrients while the body is resting. Carbohydrates and fat should be avoided within 2-3 hours of going to bed.

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