We all heard the notion that the right diet is more important than the right workout. The logic is simple: If you fail to supply your body with the necessary building blocks to build more muscle (=quality food), your hard work in the gym will yield little to no results. Fortunately, once you have found the right diet, your progress will be multiplied and you will be building muscle faster than ever.
In this article, I will teach you the exact steps you need to follow for effective diet planning. As with most things in fitness a good bodybuilding diet plan for beginners should be scientifically proven and timeless, which is why most of these “trendy diets” are a waste of your time.
1. Step: Define What’s Important To You & Set Goals
Different people want different things. When I started working out, I was a skinny guy looking for the perfect workout to get big fast
. Many of my friends felt the same, but I also know a lot of guys who want to build muscle and lose weight. This distinction is very important, because it will directly affect the design of your diet plan. How exactly? Gaining or losing weight really comes down to one important factor:
Calories In vs Calories Out
Is has been proven over and over again, that the most important aspect of your diet is not so much what you eat (we will come to that later), but how much you eat. Calorie counting does work and it will make the difference between a mediocre and a successful diet plan.
2. Step: Calculate Your Optimal Calorie Intake
To build mass and gain weight, you should run a calorie surplus, meaning you are consuming more calories than your body burns throughout the day. To lose weight, your bodybuilding diet plan should include a calorie deficit, meaning you are consuming less calories than your body burns throughout the day. These two rules are universal and can be applied to any diet and any human being around the globe.
So how exactly do you know, how many calories your body burns on a regular basis?
The simplest method is by calculating your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). I linked a popular TDEE Calculator here
. It will ask you for your age, weight, height and weekly exercise to determine how many calories you burn per day. While the result will not be 100% accurate – since we all have different metabolisms and genetics – it will give you a good idea of how many calories you need to consume in order to maintain your current weight.
3. Step: Build Your Diet Plan According To Your Needs
Let’s say you are a 25-year-old beginner looking to pack on size. You are 6 feet tall (182 cm) and weigh around 160 lbs (72.5 kg), which puts you in the skinny category. Depending on the TDEE calculator you are using, you will get a TDEE value of around 2100 – 2300 calories. Because you want to increase your current weight, you should add around 20 to 25% more calories to your daily TDEE value (in this case 400 – 500 additional calories). This puts you at a calorie surplus and – if followed correctly – creates a diet that will force your body to gain weight.
The opposite applies when wanting to lose weight. Instead of adding to your TDEE you will subtract around 20 to 25%. This calorie deficit will make you lose up to a pound and a half per week, but doesn’t change your basal metabolic rate or endanger your hormone production, which is what so many “drastic diets” do.
Do I need to be at a calorie surplus to build muscle?
You have probably heard that you need to be at a calorie surplus to put on any noticeable amount of muscle and that you should eat big to get big. While this is not completely true (as a beginner you can build muscle at a calorie deficit, but it’s less effective), you need to know that the less energy (=calories) you consume, the less your body will be able to lift heavy weights and build new muscle tissue.
This is why most beginners, who are serious about gaining muscle will work in two parts. First, they grow in size and strength by increasing weights and running a calorie surplus (a.k.a bulking
). Then they lose the extra fat while maintaining most of what was gained in strength and size (a.k.a. cutting
4. Step: The Right Foods For Your Bodybuilding Diet Plan
Counting calories was the first step to begin your diet planning. The next step is to eat the right foods with the right amount of macro nutrition. A good starting point is having your daily calorie breakdown be 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. The more you go into calorie deficit territory, the more you should increase your protein percentage, while slowly lowering carb intake. Here is a list of the perfect foods to cover your carbs, protein and fat intake:
Whole Grain Pastas / Breads / Cereals
Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Halibut)
Coconuts and Coconut Oil
What About Meal Timing And Supplements?
The two most important concepts of dieting and nutrition are How much you eat and What you eat. Fortunately, meal timing isn’t nearly as important as many gurus make it out to be. You will see amazing results by watching your energy and macronutrient balances while getting the majority of your calories from healthy foods. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder, meal timing and frequency aren’t going to make any noticeable difference in your results.
There are really only two times of the day you should be eating specific foods: Before and after your workout. This is when your body needs protein and carbohydrates. I suggest you have 30 to 40 grams of whey protein before and after your workout along with a banana or some instant oats
(they dissolve quickly and are a great source of complex carbs).
Just like meal timing, most supplements will have little to no actual effect on your results. Your focus should always be on a good workout plan
along with a healthy diet. There are, however, three supplements I recommend, simply because they will make your life a lot easier. They include a good protein powder
and fish oil
(I have linked the products I use).
You don’t need a protein powder to build muscle, but it is a lot more convenient than eating high protein foods all the time, especially before and after a workout or when traveling. I recommend getting a simple but quality whey protein like the one I linked above.
Creatine is an organic acid found in many foods (such as fish and beef). As a supplement, it will improve strength (thus build more overall muscle) and help you reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Myths about creatine causing kidney problems have been disproven by countless studies. For healthy adults, creatine has been shown to have no harmful side effects and only people who already suffered from kidney diseases reported problems from creatine supplementation. Research
indicates that the best time to take creatine is after a workout (you can mix it into your post workout shake).
While not as important as protein and creatine supplements, fish oil will not only boost your mood, but help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and strong bones and ligaments. It isn’t necessarily going to help you build muscle faster, but indirectly it will improve your health and increase the quality of your workouts.
Feel Free To Ask Questions And Share Your Thoughts In The Comments Below!