Diet for gaining muscle mass /

Most of the modern bodybuilding diets are not entirely correct. This is due to the desire of each author to invent something new when creating his own diet, but in 99% of cases these innovations are completely absurd, and sometimes even harmful. Sophisticated cycling techniques, preference for specific foods, difficulty in preparing foods, ridiculous combinations are all attempts to bring something new and attention-grabbing to the diet of bodybuilding. If you are advised to eat horseradish with garlic, or use only a narrow range of foods , for example, vegetables with a purple color, etc., you can safely close this book or article.

Who is this diet for?

This publication has been prepared by SportWiki experts on the basis of modern nutritional and bodybuilding data, as well as a wealth of successful practical experience. Before you, rather than even a description of any special scheme, but a compilation of effective principles of nutrition for a bodybuilder, regardless of the level of his professionalism and the state of muscle mass, which will allow you to understand the nutritional characteristics and compose your own diet with which you can improve health and achieve maximum results in bodybuilding.

The diet described in this article can be followed for an unlimited period of time, it does not have specific features of “entry” and “exit” from it. Remember that you need to gradually increase and decrease the amount of food consumed (calorie content and volume), otherwise metabolic and digestive disorders are possible . The body needs time to adapt to new dietary habits.

Basic principles of the diet 

1.5-6 meals a day

Recent studies have shown that the anabolic effect of food intake lasts approximately 3-4 hours, despite the fact that high amino acid levels last longer. Therefore, when gaining muscle mass, you need to eat quite often: the optimal number of meals is 5-6 times a day. At such a frequency, the digestive system is not overloaded, and small portions of nutrients constantly enter the bloodstream, which will nourish your muscles throughout the day. If you eat the same amount of food in 3 meals, then the absorbed nutrients will be supplied in excess, so the body will begin to deposit them in the form of fat, from where it is not possible to extract them in a high-calorie diet.

2. High-calorie food

About 70% of the food eaten should be high-calorie, otherwise the digestive system is overloaded, and the degree of absorption of nutrients is reduced. No one denies the usefulness of fruits and vegetables, but when gaining muscle mass, their mass fraction should not exceed 30%. Fiber, which is found in large quantities, is not digested and stimulates intestinal contraction, so most of the high-calorie food will not have time to be digested.

3. Limiting fat and fast carbohydrates

Try to limit your intake of foods rich in animals and other saturated fats (fatty meats, lard, margarine, butter, sausages, etc.). For muscle growth and energy production, the body primarily uses carbohydrates, so most of the fat in conditions of excess nutrients will be deposited in adipocytes (fat cells).

Avoid consuming fast carbohydrates, the most dangerous of them are sweets (confectionery, sweet fruits, etc.), the less dangerous are baked goods. Fast carbohydrates are able to be absorbed very quickly from the digestive tract, as a result of which the blood sugar level increases sharply, in response to this, the body converts glucose into fat.

Fast carbohydrates can be consumed after training, when muscles and other organs are able to quickly utilize glucose, in addition, the secretion of the anabolic hormone insulin increases, which is important for gaining muscle mass.

4. Drinking regime

When gaining muscle mass, many metabolic reactions are intensified, which leads to the need for more water intake. The optimal amount of liquid on average (including water contained in products) is 3-4 liters per day. Avoid the development of dehydration (dehydration), always drink when thirsty.

5. Distribution of portions throughout the day.

When gaining muscle mass, the volumes of food should be approximately equal, however, in the first half of the day (before 16:00), about 70% of all food eaten per day should be eaten. Although recent research has shown that daily serving distribution plays a secondary role.

Never eat sweet or fatty foods at night. Food before bedtime should be easily digestible and rich in protein; sour-milk products, vegetables (legumes and others), poultry, salads, eggs, fish are well suited for this.

Pre-workout nutrition . Be sure to eat before your workout (2 hours before the start). Protein meals and foods containing slow carbohydratesare well suited for this: cereals, flour, vegetables, etc. Carbohydrates before exercise are necessary in order to load glycogen stores and provide muscles and brain with energy during exercise. Amino acidswill trigger anabolism.

Post-workout nutrition . The greatest need for nutrients is observed soon after exercise. It is optimal to consume acarbohydrate-protein cocktail immediately after the end of the training, then a plentiful meal should be followed no later than 1-1.5 hours after training. Include foods rich in protein and slow carbohydrates, even small amounts of fast carbohydrates (sweet) can be consumed. After training, the so-calledprotein-carbohydrate window opens, during this time the body is disposed to assimilate a large amount of food, while nutrients are used to restore muscles and replenish energy.

6. Proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (in kcal)

  • Carbohydrate content – 50-60%

Try to consume only slow carbohydrates.

  • Protein content – 30-35%

These are essential nutrients for muscles. Ideally, 50% of the protein comes from foods , the rest from sports nutrition . It is recommended that you calculate your protein requirement using a calculator based on body weight, physical activity, and other factors.

  • Fat content – 10-20%

Do not limit the amount of fat below 10%, this will cause unwanted changes in metabolism. Try to consume only vegetable fats . Eat fatty fish without restriction. Fish oil is very healthy.

It should be remembered that there is no perfect balance that would suit absolutely everyone. Therefore, the main task of a novice bodybuilder is to find your own, which will be effective for you personally. Here are the average numbers that will work for most people, this is where you should start, and you can experiment. Interestingly, the ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates is not much different from the recommendations of nutritionists for ordinary people, and this is not surprising, since it is these proportions that are best suited for both an ordinary person and an athlete.

The main principle of gaining muscle mass

Muscle mass begins to grow only when the amount of energy supplied in the form of food exceeds the amount of energy consumed by the body. In addition, you need to remember that the body always tries to maintain homeostasis (constancy of the internal environment), so you can increase the calorie content of the diet by 5, 10 and even 30%, while the mass will not change! Sometimes, in order to get the mass off the ground, it is required to increase the calorie content of the daily diet by 50 or even 100%!

To determine the amount of food you need to gain muscle mass, you need to follow a simple technique:

Gradually increase the calorie intake until the weight gain begins to be 600-800 g per week. If the increase is less, then you need to eat more, and vice versa.

To do this, you need to weigh yourself at least once every three days. After a month, you will already be able to adjust your rate. Do not exceed the amount of the increase of more than 800 g per week, otherwise your body will begin to store a lot of fat!

Fat control

Track your body fat percentage regularly . As shown by a 2015 study on 58 pairs of twins, active formation of visceral fat, hazardous to health, in men occurs when 20.6% of the total body fat is reached, and in women when it reaches 39.4%. Therefore, when men accumulate 15-20% fat, it is necessary to stop weight gain and switch to a relief diet with a gradual decrease in fat level to 10%, and then a new cycle of weight gain can be started.