Gironda, a legendary bodybuilder once said that, :Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition!”
When a champion bodybuilder says something like that it should not be taken lightly. But, unfortunately diet & nutrition are the most overlooked aspects in gyms across India. Gym trainers are mostly looking to make profits by selling supplements to their clients. Believe it or not, neither your most expensive supplements nor the weights on your barbell are going to you any gains if your diet is not optimized according to your goals.
“Ahhh screw the diet I’ll work harder and make all kinds of gains.” Most of the people use this as an excuse when not wanting to give up their current diet. Well, I hate to tell you that all your intense effort and diligence to your workout won’t add even a pound to your muscles if you don’t focus on your diet.
How am I so sure, you ask?
I’ve made this mistake in the past and I want to spare you from making the same. So here, let me tell you my story.
I started weightlifting as a skinny guy. My aim was to build an aesthetic physique similar to that of a fitness model. I was very hardworking and loyal towards my training schedule, I never skipped a single day, but even after 1.5 years of training I wasn’t even close to my goal.
I became frustrated, wondering what went wrong. And then I realized that I hadn’t done anything the right way. I didn’t know what I was eating and more importantly HOW MUCH I was eating. My foundation about nutrition had not been laid at all. I started to clean up my diet and started to keep a track of my macro-nutrients. And only in a few months the results I saw were astonishing.
Further, by enhancing my knowledge of nutritional science I was finally able to own the physique I always dreamt of.
If you’re still reading, I’m sure you’ve realized that nutrition plays a very important role in achieving your fitness goals than you ever thought. So what makes diet and nutrition so pivotal? Why working out alone doesn’t help us grow muscles?
Because by only working out you’re damaging your muscles without helping them get repaired. Yes, the growth actually takes place when you feed your muscles with proper nutrition and allow it to repair. And that is how you grow bigger and stronger faster.
Wondering what your diet should include? Food is our source of fuel. But many forget that this fuel has 3 types i.e. protein, fats and carbohydrates (macro-nutrients). For athletic performance, muscle building and daily well-being you need all three. We’ll focus on muscle building here:
The most important macro-nutrient for muscle building is protein. You just learnt that in the gym you damage your muscles while working out.
This is where protein comes to the rescue. Proteins are broken down into amino acids which are used by our body to repair & build muscle fibers. The ideal recommendation for protein intake is 1 gram per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 80 kg, which is 176 pounds, you need 176 grams of protein everyday combined with efficient strength training to build muscles.
Good protein sources: milk, cheese, peas, legumes, pulses, chicken breast, fish, soya, whey protein.
Only eating protein would get you nowhere to your muscle building goals. You need to lift and you need to lift heavy. To be able to do so you need carbohydrates. They are the preferred source of fuel for our body. If you felt weak and lethargic at the gym, that’s most likely due to lack of carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal. Roughly 40-50% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, if your goal is muscle building. So if you’re consuming 2,500 calories a day, 1,000 calories (40%) should come from carbohydrates.
Good carb sources: legumes, pulses, fruits, brown rice, oats, and sweet potatoes.
I can’t emphasize enough how important fats are. Unfortunately, because of their name they suffer a lot injustice. People imprudently reduce fats in their diet thinking it makes them fat. But fats are crucial for healthy hormonal function especially testosterone. And you don’t want your testosterone levels to go down because it’ll be a nightmare if you’re pursuing muscle building. Regardless of what a person’s goal, is 30-40% calories should come from healthy fats. For an 80 kg person consuming 2,500 calories a day it would be 740 calories(30%) i.e 83 g of proteins.
Good fats sources: Egg yolks, fish, chicken, olive oil, coconut oil, mustard oil.
These were some general guidelines to follow while planning your diet for healthy muscle building. Remember, you’ll need to customize these nutrients according to your own body’s need.