Diets for Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders are notorious for being “protein hogs,” as their rigorous resistance training programs give them a hearty appetite. Muscles are made from protein, and the building blocks of protein are amino acids. Were you to eat only protein, however, you’d miss the vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. To gain mass and keep a good training table, eat a varied diet such as the one described in the nutrition matrix My Food Pyramid, designed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Eat a Variety of Low-Fat Protein Foods

Eat about half your body weight in grams of protein. For example, if you weigh 150 lb., consider eating about 75 g of protein daily. Bodybuilders need a variety of quality, lean protein sources such as lean cuts of beef, poultry, fish, legumes consumed with whole grains for complete protein, nuts, low-fat dairy foods and eggs. This does not mean eating only steak and eggs at every meal. You could eat a cup of Greek, non-fat yogurt to give you a whopping 24 g of protein. Half a cup of almonds provides only 6 g of protein, but combined with yogurt in a blender drink with a small banana, you have 30 g of protein to fuel a workout.

Eat Several Smaller Meals a Day

Eat several small meals and nutrient-dense snacks throughout the day to get your calories and protein. Doing this will keep your blood sugar level and give you the energy you need to work out and for recovery to feed muscle tissue for growth. For example, someone on a 2,000-calorie diet could eat four meals of 400 calories each and two snacks of 200 calories each. A mini-meal might be 4 oz. of salmon with a cup of steamed vegetables and 1 tbsp. of flax seed oil and lemon juice for a dressing (400 calories). A snack could be two slices of whole-grain raisin toast with 1 tbsp. of unsalted, no-sugar peanut or almond butter (200 calories).

Eat Heart-Healthy Unsaturated Fats

Watch the kinds of fats you consume. The USDA recommends eating no more than 30 percent of total daily calories from fats. Of that number, consume no more than 10 percent from saturated fats; these are solid at room temperature and can increase risk for heart disease. Instead, eat non-saturated fats such as nuts and olive, canola, flax or hemp seed oil. Fish also is a heart-healthy fat. Bake, steam, broil or bake food, and avoid any deep frying, which creates harmful trans fats. Eat low- or non-fat dairy foods such as yogurt, 2 percent milk, or soy or almond milk.

About this Author

Sava Tang Alcantara has been a writer and editor since 1988, working as a writer and editor for health publications such as Let’s Live Magazine and Whole Life Times. Alcantara specializes in health and fitness and is a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. She does volunteer work regularly and has taught free public yoga classes in Santa Monica, Calif. since 2002.