Are you finding it challenging to build your muscles? If you are struggling with gaining more muscles, maybe because you are new to bodybuilding, you should read on and learn the best bodybuilding meal prep ideas.
Successful bodybuilding involves building body muscles through proper nutrition and weightlifting. As a lifestyle, bodybuilders spend most of their time in the gym. To maximize the gym results, you must also focus on the diet as it determines the success of your bodybuilding objectives.
In this guide, we will take a look at the basics of bodybuilding, including nutrition (foods to eat and avoid). You will also access to an effective bodybuilding plan for successful bodybuilding.
The Basics of Bodybuilding
The primary objective of bodybuilding is to develop and maintain a balanced muscular physique. To achieve that, bodybuilders must pass through two stages, namely the bulking phase and cutting phase to achieve better results.
Each phase determines the kind of foods that one should eat. During the bulking phase (off-season), you should eat foods that are rich in calories and proteins with intense weightlifting to build the body muscles. It may take months or years to gain muscles.
The subsequent cutting phase aims at reducing the body fats while maintaining the muscles gained in the bulking phase. Your diet may change a bit during this phase. With the right diet and exercise, it can last between 12 and 16 weeks.
When it comes to bodybuilding nutrition, you should eat more calories and proteins than your usual intake to power the muscles and help in building and repairing them. However, not every calorie-rich foods and protein-rich foods are healthy for a bodybuilding program.
Besides going to the gym more frequently, having a well-balanced and nutritious diet is essential for successful bodybuilding. When organizing your gym schedule and fitness goals, you should think about what you will eat before and after a physical exercise.
Calories and Macronutrients for Bodybuilding
In general, bodybuilding focuses on increasing the muscles’ mass during the bulking phase and reducing body fats during the cutting period. Therefore, you ought to eat more calories in the first phase than in the second phase.
The Number of Calories You Need
To determine the number of calories you need in each stage of bodybuilding, you should check your weight for at least thrice a week while recording the foods you eat. If your body weight is constant throughout, your daily calorie intake is only enough to maintain your body weight and not to build it.
To get better results during the bulking phase, you should increase your calorie intake by about 15% above your maintenance calories. In the subsequent cutting phase, you ought to reduce your calorie intake by 15% below your maintenance calories.
Any time you gain or lose weight in the bulking and cutting phase, respectively, you should record the weight changes and adjust the calories you consume after every month for proper and uniform recording. In both stages, you shouldn’t gain or lose over 0.5 – 1.0% of your weight in a week.
The Number of Macronutrients You Need
After knowing the number of calories your body needs for successful bodybuilding, you should establish a right macronutrient ratio. That is, the ratio of proteins to carbohydrates to fats you ought to eat in each bodybuilding phase. Unlike calorie needs, the proportion of macronutrients doesn’t change throughout the entire bodybuilding process.
It is vital to note that both the carbs and proteins contain four calories in one gram while a gram of fats has about nine calories. You should maintain the right nutrient balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Here is the recommended macronutrient balance.
|30 – 35%||Protein|
|55 – 60%||Carbohydrates|
|15 – 25%||Fats|
An ideal target is to get 35%, 40%, and 25% of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats respectively, from your total calorie intake. To get the right nutrient balance, you must understand the types of foods you eat, and at what time you should eat them.
Foods You Should Eat and Avoid
Not every food that is rich in calories is healthy for a bodybuilder. Consuming the right proportion of healthy foods provides enough nutrients for enhancing the recovery of lost calories and building and repair of muscles after workouts. Such foods plus weightlifting facilitate the growth of body muscles. Eating the wrong foods or eating limited amounts of the right foods, on the other hand, may yield poor results.
Foods to Eat
You should focus on the right foods both in the bulking phase and cutting phase. There is no need to change your diet when transitioning between the two stages. Here are some examples of the foods you should eat.
- Grains: Oatmeal, cereals, rice, crackers, quinoa, and popcorn
- Meat, Fish, and Poultry: Ground beef, sirloin steak, pork tenderloin, tilapia, cod, salmon, chicken breast and venison
- Dairy Products: Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, cheese, and low-fat milk
- Starchy Veggies: Corn, green peas, potatoes, and cassava
- Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, grapes, watermelon, pears, and berries
- Vegetables: Spinach, zucchini, broccoli, cucumber, asparagus, tomatoes, leafy salad greens, green beans, and mushroom
- Beans and Legumes: Kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and pinto beans
- Seeds and Nuts: Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almond, and walnuts
- Oils: Avocado oil, olive oil, and flaxseed oil
If the foods you eat do not provide all the essential nutrients and energy you need, you may take dietary supplements such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
While it is crucial to incorporate various foods in your bodybuilding diet, you should stay away from foods that may hinder you from achieving the best results. Such foods include alcohol, deep fried foods, and foods rich in added sugars such as cookies, candy, cakes, ice cream, doughnuts, and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Additionally, you should also avoid foods that take longer to digest when you are about to go to the gym. You may end up experiencing a stomach upset and feel uncomfortable during your workout. Such foods include;
- Fiber-Rich Foods: Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli
- Carbonated beverages: Diet soda and sparkling water
- Foods rich in Fats: Buttery foods, high-fat meat, and heavy creams
Meal Prep Ideas for Bodybuilding
Checking every meal to find out if it’s suitable for your bodybuilding diet may be a tedious task and time-consuming. One of the best approaches that can help you to achieve your objectives is to establish a bodybuilding meal prep.
In a nutshell, let’s look at a few strategies to help you get the most out of your meal prep.
Develop Your Meal Plan: You ought to plan your bodybuilding meals to avoid inconveniences, and it should align with your bodybuilding plan.
Prepare the Meals in Bulk: During weekends, you can prepare the foods in bulk that can sustain you through the entire week to save on time.
Pack the Meals into Portions: Once the meals are ready, you should portion them into small food boxes. When packed, you can carry some to work.
Dieting plays a significant role in the success of a bodybuilding program. To get better results, you should increase and decrease your calorie intake in the bulking phase and cutting phase, respectively. With an effective workout meal delivery system, ActivEats can help you achieve your bodybuilding goals by providing foods that align well with your plan.