There’s more to bodybuilding than simply lifting weights. In addition to the time spent working out in the gym, having a set meal plan for weight training and sticking to it will optimize your accomplishments. Just as eating right helps you to stay healthy, the foods you consume as well as nutrition supplements will impact the results you see by enhancing your bodybuilding efforts.
The Benefits of a Meal Plan for Weight Training
You can have the top of the line dumbbell set, workout bench, and weight machines money can buy, but if you aren’t eating the right foods to boost your efforts, you won’t achieve optimal results. You may think that abiding by a strict diet is challenging and boring, but a well thought out meal plan can provide the nutrients you need without being so restrictive.
When you are weight training you need to fuel your body for exercise as well as replenish what is lost in order to promote adequate muscle growth. Nutritional supplements are great in aiding with lean muscle mass; however, it should not be a substitute for a healthy, well-balanced diet. When you choose the right foods to eat at the right times you will lose any unwanted fat and gain lean muscle growth. The 3 basic nutrients listed below will work with your body in order to compliment your weight training efforts when consumed appropriately:
You are most likely well aware of the importance of having protein in your diet, especially in bodybuilding. This key nutrient is needed to repair the muscle tissue that becomes broken down from your workout. You may be surprised to learn that you really don’t need to consume a large volume of protein as you might think. Unused nutrients are typically excreted from the body, although excess protein that your body doesn’t need may be stored as fat. Your protein consumption should consist of 25-40% of your daily calorie intake.
Choose lean protein sources such as:
- Lean beef
- Chicken and Turkey (white meat)
- Eggs (preferably egg whites)
- Low fat dairy products
Low carb diets seem to be the trend in losing weight and unwanted fat. The truth is your body needs carbs, not only for energy, but as a means of providing valuable nutrients including fiber, vitamins and minerals. Particularly starchy carbs aid in stimulating muscle growth as well as providing rapid energy before and post workout. Your carbohydrate consumption should make up 35-45% of your daily calorie intake and include fruits and vegetables naturally high in fiber. Ideal carbs that are low in fat to include are:
- Brown rice
- Bread (preferably whole wheat)
- Tropical fruits
While fats seems to be an ugly word in terms of dieting, your body needs them in order to absorb vitamins that are fat soluble as well as fueling your body and actually help maintain adequate blood sugar levels. The key in adding fats to your diet that are beneficial is to choose good fats such as Omega 3 fatty acids and avoid bad fats such as those that come from meat and egg yolks. Your fat consumption should consist of 15-40% of your daily calorie intake. Ideal fats to include in your diet include:
Additional Tips for Meal Planning
Eat Several Small Meals – We often stick to a 3-square meal a day routine; however, breaking up your meals into 6 smaller meals and snacks consisting of the aforementioned components throughout the day will aid in promoting new muscle growth. Think of a small meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a light meal/snack before and after workouts.
Choose Quality Foods – this should be a no-brainer, but many still consume highly processed foods which are high in calories and lack adequate nutrients. Leave out anything that comes in a box or package and stick to whole foods.
Be Sure to Drink Plenty of Fluids – Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout is vital to maintaining adequate hydration as well as staying hydrated throughout the day. It’s easy to get bored and tired of just plain water, but many sports drinks have a high sugar content. Be sure your sports drinks, vitamin water and other flavored beverages are calorie-free to avoid undoing your efforts in achieving your goals.
Keep supplements supplemental – There are some nutrients that are more easily obtained through supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids than relying strictly on food sources. However, keep in mind that supplements are meant to complement your diet. There are some valuable nutrients that can only be sufficiently acquired through fruits and vegetables.
Balance out your carbs – there are good carbs such as those high in fiber and low in starch, then there are starchy carbs that you should consume wisely such as those that raise blood sugar levels. While both should be included in your meal plan, an even balance is key to obtain the benefits. Limit your starchy carbs to your first and last meal of the day as well as your post workout meal.