You’ve been lied to.
You’ve been bombarded with advertisements telling you what is right, wrong, healthy, and unhealthy.
The truth is, there is no magic pill.
The only way to truly change the way your body looks is by understanding food and how it works.
This guide isn’t only for bodybuilders. If your body doesn’t look the way you want it to, this guide is for you.
By the end of this Bodybuilding Nutrition 101 guide, you’ll know exactly how food works, how it affects your body, what foods to eat, how much to eat, and how to start getting the physique you’ve always dreamed of.
WARNING: THIS IS AN EXTREMELY LONG AND VALUABLE POST – MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW ALONG AND TAKE NOTES
Energy In vs. Energy Out
Everyone likes to focus on the supplements —
Buy fish oil to help your heart!
Drink protein shakes after your workout to build muscle!
Take fat burners to instantly lose weight!
While these aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re more of the cherry on top of the foundation that is your overall diet.
HERE ARE THE BASICS
Our bodies run on calories.
There are a certain amount of calories you burn throughout the day, just by living.
This is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
Factors that affect this are
- Your Age
- Daily Activities
- How much you exercise
- And Genetic background
If you eat as much as you burn, you’ll stay the exact same weight you are now. This is called maintenance.
Eat more and you gain weight (Surplus).
Eat less and you lose weight (Deficit).
Find your TDEE and come back to this article. (Everything after Maximum Muscular Potential is garbage)
If you’re not into working out and just want to eat better, this is where you start.
Controlling how much you eat affects your weight.
Technically, you could eat nothing but sweets and junk food, and if you stay below your TDEE, you’ll lose weight — your body will just look and feel terrible.
If you want to control how your body actually looks, this is where we move onto macronutrients.
Food can be broken down into two categories: Macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates, and protein — This is what determines your body composition (how your body looks).
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals — This is what determines how your body feels and functions.
Every single food you eat carries a mixture of macro and micronutrients and both are important to a healthy, well-balanced diet.
KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER
- 1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories.
- 1 gram of carbohydrates is equal to 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories.
So how much of each do you need?
Research has proven there is no scientific benefit to eating more than 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
However, if your goal is losing weight, it is recommended to eat more than this. Somewhere between 1.2 – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight…
Why is this?
Protein is the most filling food you can eat. This is why you could eat nothing but a giant steak and be satisfied for hours.
This helps when you are eating fewer calories and want to feel satiated.
If you’re building muscle however, keep your protein intake somewhere between 0.8 – 1.0 gram per pound of bodyweight.
Here’s what to do with this information:
- Weigh yourself
- Take that number and times it by 0.8 – 1.5 depending on your goals and how much protein you like eating (If you’re not sure, choose somewhere in the middle)
- This number is how many calories of protein you should be consuming daily
- Divide this number by 4. This is how many grams of protein you should be eating every day
The fat in your diet is NOT equal to the fat in your body. I could eat an entire stick of butter and it would have no effect on my abs.
Remember: You have a certain amount of calories you burn every day. Eating more than this is what causes fat.
The main function of fats in your diet is to make food taste better, give your brain energy, and provide essential fatty acids that your body can’t get elsewhere.
Here are some simple facts about fat:
- Eating fat doesn’t make you fat
- Completely avoiding fat will mess up your hormones, brain, bones, and a whole lot more
- Fats are delicious and good for you
Now depending on your goals, your fat intake will range from 15% to 30% of your daily calories. This is a huge variance but it’s pretty easy to figure out.
If your goal is to lose weight, keep it between 15% – 25%.
If your goal is to gain weight, keep it between 20% – 30%.
If you like more fat in your diet, go to the higher end, if you’re unsure, just choose somewhere in the middle.
How to calculate your daily fat intake:
- Take your chosen fat percentage and turn that into a decimal. Let’s say you wanted 20%, that equals .2
- Take your TDEE and multiply by .2 (This is the total daily calories of fat you should consume)
- Divide by 9 to convert calories from fat into grams
While protein is everyone’s favorite macronutrient, and fats are the life of the party, the one that always gets the hate are the carbohydrates — or carbs for short.
Talk to anyone who says carbs make you fat, and I can promise you, they know nothing about nutrition.
Talk to fitness “experts” who say carbs make you fat, and most likely they’re trying to sell you something.
Atkins, ketogenic, paleo, the low carb and any other fad diet all treat carbs like they’re the reason you’re fat — the truth is, they’re all just marketing ploys.
Most fruits and vegetables are carbs.
Do you REALLY think that by avoiding all types of fruits and vegetables, you’ll somehow become skinny?
If you still have some bias toward a certain type of food, simply put, you’re lacking in education.
The majority of your calories should come from carbs.
Carbs provide the most energy and are what actually provide the fuel for your workouts.
Here’s how carbs really work
Carbs come in two forms: Simple and Complex.
Simple carbs come in the form of sugar. These are things such as soda, cookies, juice from concentrate, baked goods, and cereals. These are the types of carbs you should minimize or avoid.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, are fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains — things that naturally come from the earth without being processed.
Think of your body like a car. Gasoline (carbs) is what gives cars the fuel to run — with some better than others. There’s a certain limit to how much gas you can use. If you keep filling up the tank, you’ll eventually start spilling over (get fat).
This rule applies to anything that you eat.
Remember, you have a certain amount of calories you burn a day. Eating more than this makes you gain weight.
Once you have your protein and fat numbers down, the rest come from carbs.
Here’s what to do with all this information:
- Take your total calories from your protein (step 3 in the protein section)
- Add your total calories from fat (step 2 in the fat section)
- Subtract this number from your TDEE or goal caloric number
- Divide this number by 4 to get the total grams of carbs you should consume in a day
If you followed along so far and wrote down your numbers, sticking to this is the key to having the body you’ve always wanted.
The caveat to this is – this is only what changes your body composition. If you eat McDonald’s every day, you’ll have a nice body, but you’ll feel like crap.
If you want to have sustained energy without ever needing another coffee or power shot ever again, read on.
Here’s an experiment: Look at the food choices of other people and see how many vegetables they actually eat.
Unless they’re Vegan or Vegetarian, most likely it’s about one serving a day or even less.
Vegetables are LOADED with micronutrients, but society rarely eats them.
Let’s break them down.
What are they and what do they do for you?
Micronutrients are made up of two categories: Vitamins and Minerals.
You’ve probably heard of these but have no idea what they do for you. They’re basically the Men in Black of your body and help keep things under control.
If you’ve ever wanted a better metabolism, better skin, hair, nails, or just want to heal like wolverine, micronutrients are the answer.
Since there are so many micronutrients, let’s just keep it simple:
- Vitamins – Different vegetables contain different vitamins. Eat a variety every single day.
- Minerals – Meats are the best source for minerals. Eat your daily protein amount and you’ll have plenty.
That’s it! — Pretty simple right?
The importance of micronutrients may seem overlooked, but trust me, if you added more vegetables in your diet, you’ll find that you’ll stop feeling the need for naps (while having more energy than ever), your skin, hair, and nails will be the healthiest they’ve ever been, and your metabolism will burn fat like crazy.
If you’ve ever wanted to know how it feels to be Superman, this is it.
So what are you supposed to eat? — Let’s dive into that.
What is healthy?
Take anyone through the produce aisle of the grocery store and every single one of them, without a doubt, will 100% agree that fruit and vegetables are healthy.
But then we go back through history and see our ancestors who had to hunt for their food. They mostly ate meat and fat, and they’re healthier than 90% of modern America.
So what’s going on here?
Well, the truth is, through evolution our teeth have been shaped to be able to break down both plants, and animals. This is our bodies way of telling us what we should eat.
What about things like cereal and bread?
Anything processed is generally bad for you (The few exceptions are spices, oils, and a few protein powders.)
That leaves whole foods as the main source of the foods that are actually healthy. Skip 95% of all the aisles in the middle of the grocery store and stay on the ends.
Here’s an easy rule I follow: If it came from the earth and wasn’t manmade, it’s probably good for you.
So what should you actually eat?
- Potatoes, rice, quinoa, and buckwheat are great to get your carbohydrate requirement for the day
- Eat a variety of green leafy veggies and eat as much as you want. These types of vegetables are low in calories but are powerhouses in vitamins and minerals.
- 1-2 servings of fruit a day is plenty (bananas, apples, peaches, oranges)
- Chicken and fish are high in protein with very little fat
- Pork, chicken, lamb, and everything else has a lot more fat in them
- Eggs are about 50/50 fat and protein
- If you’re vegan or vegetarian – beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh are all great options
- Seeds, nuts, or tahini if you’re Vegan or Vegetarian
- If you’ve already hit your fat requirement for the day, use fat-free cooking sprays as a replacement for oils when cooking
- Processed foods
- Drink as much water in a day as you can
- Black coffee and unsweetened teas are great for caffeine without any calories (Opt for no-calorie sweeteners if you absolutely need to sweeten your drinks)
- Juice is okay if it’s 100% but make sure to track the calories
- Alcohol has calories so make sure to stick with shots or low-calorie beers
- Nuts and seeds contain carbs, fats, and proteins. Great as fillers if you’re having trouble hitting your daily macronutrients
- Ice cream, chocolate, and snacks are okay if you still have room in your macronutrients for the day and would like to treat yourself without feeling guilty
- Protein powders are okay, ONLY if you read the ingredients and are NOT getting enough protein in your diet, otherwise, stick with real food
- Condiments are great, but be aware of how many calories are in it. (hot sauces generally have none while bbq sauce and ketchup has plenty)
- Spices – Use as much as you want but be conscious of how much salt you’re eating
When should you eat?
You may still believe humans should eat 3 square meals a day. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
Trust me, skipping breakfast won’t kill you and eating 6 meals a day isn’t necessarily better. What matters is eating the correct amount of calories every day.
I currently intermittent fast, meaning I skip breakfast and eat two massive meals for lunch and dinner.
There are plenty of reasons for this and you should know this type of meal timing isn’t better or worse for you in the long run. It just makes dieting easier.
Try it out and see how you feel. If you have trouble getting enough calories in for the day, feel free to add in breakfast.
This entire article was listed in order of importance.
If you consume your daily protein, fat, and carbohydrate requirements every single day while eating plenty of vegetables, there is absolutely no reason you would need to buy supplements.
Drinking a protein shake right after a workout doesn’t give you muscles — hitting your caloric intake does.
Multivitamins are great if you absolutely hate eating vegetables, but they’re a waste of money otherwise.
Fish oil would be the only supplement I would recommend since most people don’t get much omega 3 fatty acids in their diets unless you eat salmon or 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds daily.
My recommendation is to just eat real food, feel great, and save your money.
Hope this was helpful! The bodybuilding nutrition 101 guide was designed so you can enjoy the foods you want while getting abs in the process.
Of course, if you want nice muscles as well, follow a proven workout program like the Greek God Program.
If you’re still having trouble deciding what to eat, follow people with the body that you want. See what they eat, try it out, and if you like it, implement it into your diet.
If not, never touch it again.
Leave a comment down below and let me know if you have any questions and i’ll be happy to help!
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For more tips on how to improve your fitness, make sure to check out the following:
- Why Intermittent Fasting Works – And Why Every Fitness Expert Is Doing It
- Kinobody Greek God Program Review: Does it Work?