How many calories?
Now that we’ve covered how important meal timing is, next, we’ll discuss calories. It’s a tricky subject and the info found on the Internet tends to over-simplify things. And there are people who take things to the extremes both on the side of weight loss and weight gain. For example, 9 calories per pound of bodyweight are too little. It should be the top end when trying to lose weight.
When you’re cutting you could begin with nine calories per pound of body weight as the baseline level for at least 2-4 weeks and then you’ll proceed by lowering the calories at steady increments. Fifteen calories per pound of bodyweight are the best starting level suited for a moderate weight gaining diet. Start at 15 calories per pound and after two to four weeks have passed, increase the calories gradually. For example, someone weighing 200 pounds would start off with 3000 calories and then adjust according to his/her goals.
The truth is that when it comes to dieting, the majority of people are not led by common sense. The mentality of “more is better” is spreading like an epidemic. Modern people want immediate results and won’t satisfy with anything less. Well, good luck with that. In bodybuilding, patience is the most important factor, and you need time to figure out what works for you and ditch the things that don’t. If people were told the truth of what they really needed to do to get those huge arms they see in the magazines or become incredibly strong, the majority would simply give up before even starting, thinking it’s not worth the effort.
So, going back to our example of someone weighing 200 pounds. That someone would really have to resist giving in to the urge of starting off with 4000 calories. No matter if you’re in a bulking or cutting phase, never use these so-called “shock tactics”. You should never try to surprise your body with huge and sudden calorie increases or reductions. It’s already hard as it is to gain only one pound of lean muscle mass. Why shoot yourself in the foot with some crazy tactic that will cost you half a pound of that hard-earned muscle?
For example, let’s assume that you’re eating 200 grams or protein a day and you double that to 400. How do you think your body will metabolize all the extra protein? Chances are half of it isn’t going to get used at all, and it’ll just end up in the toilet. What’s more, it’s going to be really hard eating double the amount so soon and you’ll just quit after a couple of weeks. Patience is imperative in this case as always. It’s all about gradual increments. Start off with a sustainable caloric amount then increase gradually.
Next, let’s discuss the most optimal macronutrient ratio for muscle growth. Here’s the basic outline:
You can achieve this ratio by getting 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. Fats are the last macronutrient to consider and they need to be consumed from healthy fat sources. Fat can also be found in the foods rich in protein like chicken, eggs or beef. Protein is the number one nutrient for bodybuilding, which makes it essential to consume at every meal.
Taking the 200-pound guy as an example, it’s recommended that he start with 300grams of carbs and 400 grams of protein daily. If you divide this into 6 meals, you get 50 grams of carbs, 67 grams of protein and around 20 grams of fat in every meal. Again, this is just a basic guideline for a moderate weight gain plan.
In terms of what foods to buy, there are lots of awesome options. You can get protein from lean beef and chicken. Eggs are also full of it, as well as all types of fish or turkey. It’s not uncommon for bodybuilders to eat up to 10 whole eggs a day. If you’re on a budget, always look for good deals and the best cuts. Meat is expensive, so this will help you a lot in the long-term. Whey or casein protein powders are also a great addition to an already nutrient-dense diet. Always strive to get as much protein as possible from whole foods and only then switch to supplements.
You can get carbs from all kinds of sources, but it is important that you’re getting complex slow-digesting carbs. You can eat all kinds of oats, brown rice, integral pasta, potatoes, as well as eat a great variety of fruits and vegetables. The most commonly used source by bodybuilders are oats, since they are filled with low glycemic index carbs which are processed slowly by your digestive system, you full for longer periods of time and provide you with stable energy levels throughout the day, unlike fast carbs which give you an insulin spike after which you experience an energetic crash.
When it comes to healthy fats you can get them from all kinds of fatty fish, olive oil, peanuts, almonds, cashews etc. Unhealthy fats like trans fats are mostly found in junk food and if you are serious about bodybuilding you should avoid it at all costs.
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