July 27, 2022 6 min read
Muscle is made in the kitchen. You’ve heard it a million times right? What you may not have heard is exactly what in the kitchen helps you build muscle. Bodybuilding is a sport that requires time, dedication, and a strict diet to achieve those Herculean features.
Knowing how many calories to eat, and the right amount of proteins, fats, and carbs is essential for muscle growth. If all you know is chicken breast and rice equals muscle, you may not be totally wrong, but there are plenty of other foods you’ll want to add to your meal plan.
Whether you’re bulking up or looking for weight loss, counting macronutrients can play an important role in reaching your goals.
Counting your macros means keeping track of how many grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates you consume daily.
Macro counting is a lifestyle diet that’s not as restrictive and can be more sustainable compared to diet plans like Keto. All foods are made up of macronutrients, and each macronutrient has a certain amount of calories, so you will calculate your total number of macros by your daily calorie intake.
It may seem confusing at first, but once you break it down, it’s less intimidating, and if you’re serious about your bodybuilding diet, then this is key to gaining muscle mass.
The first step in counting your macros is determining your total caloric intake. Building lean muscle will mean creating a high-calorie diet plan, where the calories are healthy and intentional.
Adding between 300-500 more calories to your current diet can help boost muscle hypertrophy.
After determining your calories, it’s time to divide them into macros.
Protein is important for muscle growth and repair after exercise, and it can also be used as energy if no carbs or fats are readily available.
The general rule is to consume between 1g-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight depending on your activity level, so if you weigh 200 lbs, you’ll be consuming ~200 grams of protein.
Four calories are in one gram of protein, so to figure out your calories from protein, all you have to do is multiply it by four.
You might cringe at the word “fat”, but it is important for energy, cell function, nutrient absorption, and hormone production. Although essential, there are nine calories in one gram of fat, so it’s a nutrient that you’ll need the smallest amount of.
To maintain a healthy amount of body fat, consuming between 20-35% of calories from fat is recommended. This means if you’re on a 2,000 calorie diet, 400 of those calories should come from fat.
The main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for your body. Eating a healthy amount of carbs can aid in fat loss, despite low-carb diets claiming to be the staple of weight loss.
Consuming between 45-65% of calories from carbs is recommended, meaning a 2,000 calorie diet would consume ~900-1,300 calories from carbs.
Tracking your macros and being mindful of the foods you put into your body is important for gaining muscle, but when you consume your calories matters too. Hitting the gym for a heavy leg day or high volume upper body will require enough to fuel to help last you through the workout.
Taking a pre-workout like Pumped-AF can help provide more stamina to your workout and visible fullness to your muscles.
Unless you’re doing fasted cardio, fueling up before your workout can help give your body the energy it needs to get through the most grueling of sweat sessions, but it can prepare your body to recover afterwards.
Your pre-workout meal should consist of high-carb, moderate protein, and lower fat. You should aim to eat about one to two hours before you hit the weights.
A few sample pre-workout meals may look something like:
Some workouts are longer than others and may need a snack or protein shake to get you through. You obviously don’t want to take a break to scarf down a meal, but replenishing amino acids with our BCAA/EAAS can be beneficial.
You should never skip a meal after your workout because that’s how your body can repair and ultimately build more muscle.
After exercise, your glycogen stores are depleted, so your post-workout meal should consist of simple carbs and protein.
You’ll want to avoid too much fat after your workout because it can slow down digestion and limit the absorption of necessary carbs and protein. Your post-workout meal should be consumed within one to two hours after the gym.
A few sample post-workout meals may look something like:
Wandering aimlessly down the grocery store aisles can become overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure of where to start. Just like having a workout program in the gym, constructing a grocery list can help you stay on track and plan your meals ahead of time.
The foods that you put in your body can determine how fast you can reach those gains goals. Although it won’t happen overnight, making the right decisions everyday can help maximize muscle growth. Hitting the gym isn’t always easy, but healthy eating is arguably the hardest part of weight loss or gaining muscle mass.
Aside from having the best body on the beach, choosing the right foods for your body can improve your overall health and help you live a longer, more energetic life.
It’s important to understand that everyone’s body is different, and genetics can play a big role in body composition, so comparing yourself to the person lifting next to you shouldn’t be on your mind. If you find yourself still struggling with your diet, reach out to a registered dietician or nutritionist.
When it comes to gaining muscle, patience and perseverance is key. As the old saying goes, there’s no better time to start than now.
If you've got your macros dialed in and are looking to pack on even more lean muscle, you can find exactly what you're looking for here.