I have been bodybuilding for only a couple of weeks and I have no clue when it comes to nutrition. Everybody at the gym says that what you eat makes up 50% of the results you will make when weight training, so I need to figure out what types of foods are the best. My diet right now is pretty bad and I eat mostly fast food during the day and some snacks when I get home, so any helpful recommendations on what to eat will really help me out. Should I be eating protein before or after my workouts for the best results?
Your gym buddies were right when they expressed the importance of nutrition but I would actually say that as much as 70% of your results are completely dependent on the foods you put into your mouth. If you ever see any really muscular and lean people in the gym who have that incredibly lean and ripped look to their physiques, I guarantee you that the first thing they will say when you go up and ask them how they got in that type of condition, will be something along the lines of “It’s all about diet”. This statement is so true because the foods that you eat will either help you gain lean muscle mass and burn off unwanted body fat or they will do exactly the opposite. It truly is all about the diet when it comes down to seeing incredible results in your physique!
I need to be really upfront and honest with you at this point and let you know that eating a bodybuilding diet day in and day out is going to take a lot of discipline and hard work. If it was easy, so many more people in the gym would look shredded and jacked. However, how many people do you actually see that are truly impressive with lean and muscular bodies in the gym? It’s maybe 5-10% of the gym members and that’s in a popular city where people are really into health and fitness.
Are you really willing to make the commitment and do what it takes to see improvements in your physique? The answer lies in your willingness and vigilance to reach your goals and if it’s truly worth it to make the difficult sacrifices that need to be made in order to get what you want. This means totally changing your current way of eating and adapting a true bodybuilding diet that contains nutrient dense whole foods that will help give you the energy and macronutrients to run optimally. I highly recommend reading the Nutrition 101 article which provides a huge list of muscle building foods with great sources of lean protein, clean carbs and healthy fats.
For your concern regarding eating protein before or after your workouts, it’s actually critical that you consume protein at both of these times for the best results. It’s great to have some slow releasing complex carbs and some protein before you workout which will provide you with long-lasting energy to power you through an intense workout.
A great pre-workout meal to eat before your workout is:
- 1 cup of oatmeal (old fashioned)
- 1 scoop of whey protein powder
- Mix everything in a bowl and microwave
After your workout comes a critical time when you want to consume a high level of protein along with a fast acting simple sugar to replenish your glycogen levels. Shoot for at least 20-40 grams of protein and about 60-100 grams of carbs. The total grams will depend on a few factors like your overall weight and your body type. If you are more of an endomorph and hold a lot of body fat, then you probably want to cut back on the overall number of carbs post-workout and shoot for 50-60 grams total. However, if you are an ectomorph body type who is very lean then you can shoot for the higher range of around 100 grams of carbs after training.
The reason why I recommend taking whey protein powder is because it’s a very fast acting source of protein that will get to your muscles quickly before and after your workouts when you really need them. If you like eating a whole food source of protein pre-workout, you can opt for egg whites which are a fantastic source of protein and contain one of the highest BV values available for any food. BV stands for “biological value” and it’s a scale of measurement used to determine what percentage of a given nutrient source is utilized by the body. The more protein that is utilized and absorbed means the more lean muscle tissue you can build!
I wish you the best with your bodybuilding program and I respect the fact that you have made the positive choice to live healthier by including a weight training plan into your overall lifestyle. Just getting yourself into the gym is one of the toughest things to do, so excellent job getting after it and I’m sure you will be able to implement many of the nutritional recommendations I have advised. Be patient and determined with your long-term goals and I’m sure you will reach all of your bodybuilding and physique dreams!