Over the past month I have received many emails concerning the same thing… is my nutrition ok for muscle gain and fat loss? Now first off let me set the record straight by saying that you can not change muscle into fat and vice versa. So if anyone tells you that you changed fat into muscle, say “Thanks” and never consult with that person again. You can gain more muscle and lose more fat at the same time. But again most do not know how to do that.
I can admit to all that when I first started bodybuilding I use to listen to the local big guy and he would tell that to get big you have to eat big. So I did. I was the VIP customer at Burger King. Damn those whoppers were good. But the end result was that I gained fat and very little muscle. Shit… I won my first open class contest as a lightweight competitor (151lbs). Do the math I had to lose 50lbs of fat to get to the end result 151lbs of lean muscle tissue.
“In order to get big, you have to eat big” what does that mean? Well that statement is true and bodybuilding is a lifestyle. I’m Hispanic so giving up tacos, enchiladas, and menudo wasn’t easy, but it had to be done. My family thinks I’m abnormal but in reality I am healthier now then I was then.
So where do you begin. The first place is with protein. Open up an ASCM training manual and it recommends 0.8g per kilograms of bodyweight. That would be 73g of protein for a 200lbs person daily. Now notice I said “person” not “athlete.” But in reality that number is giving the very minimum amount of protein you need for everyday life. Protein is not only for muscle but also for all tissue. This means hair, skin, nails, etc. Recently research has proven that high protein diets do not have any negative effects on kidneys, bone health, and cardiovascular. Although I would recommend that anyone with a risk of kidney disease should consult with a doctor and nutritionist to balance and monitor the amount of protein taken in for his/her health.
So the recommendation of 1g per pound is a great place to start for all people. Even the most sedentary person will benefit from that recommendation. But I would begin with 1.5g and as your training intensity increases I would shoot for 2g per pound. Now no matter what you are trying to do I would recalculate that number every 5lbs lost or gained. This will ensure that you are gaining or preserving muscle during any phase of your training.
Now your body needs energy and its main sources are from Carbohydrates and Fat. Now I could write a book on these two alone but respect to all the Core readers I am going to keep it brief and concise. Carbohydrates have received a lot of bad wrap over the past few years as the low crab craze has truly set in. But carbohydrates are not all bad. At the right times they produce an anabolic effect that is most beneficial for an athlete. But how many carbs should I take in? That number can vary depending on the body type you are.
The three body types are Endomorph, Mesomorph, and Ectomorph. The ectomorph is our typical hard gainer. Usually very tall and slender with little body fat. The endomorph is what most women consider them. (Not that any our this) The idea that they think of food and they gain weight is the usual consensus. Last is our mesomorph. These are those people who are the natural talents. They can bench press once a week and its almost like they grew ½ inch of size each time. So with respect to each body type, carbohydrate count should be…
Ectomorph: 2-3g per pound
Endomorph: 1g per pound
Mesomorph: 2g per pound.
Now you may be thinking that those numbers are very low, its actually not. Give your body what it needs for the energy you are going to expend. For instance you should have carbohydrates for breakfast, pre-work out and post training. If you are going to be sitting a desk for hours, or traveling, or just vegetating in front of the TV, you do not carbohydrates, as you are not expending any energy.
Your total fat count should be minimal as you are getting enough fat from the animal sources you are eating. Obviously beef has the most fat as where chicken and turkey have less. Protein powders have very minimal amounts of fat also. I would include at least 6g of EFA’s in your diet. This would come mostly from omega 6 fats. If you are going to use oils like extra virgin olive oil, flax oil, or even MCT oil. Use them sparingly. This is your template diet formula so you body does not excess amount of energy, as it will first use carbohydrates for energy then fat. If you body has excess of each the body will begin to store it. Ketosis diets, low carb dieting, extreme high protein diets are much more complicated and are not the purpose of this article.
So lets put this program to use with an 180lb bodybuilder with a mesomorph body type. Minimally he should eat daily180g of protein and up to 360g of protein for muscle gain. That would be at least 45g of protein over 8 evenly spaced meals. His carbohydrate count should also be at least 360g daily. Lets say that he has a sit down job so all he needs is fuel in the morning, pre-work out, and post work out. So for three meals he should have 120g of carbohydrates. This is really not that hard to do so get over the actual number. The other meals he should add in vegetables as they are used for fiber and we do not count them as part of complex carbohydrate count. Fat should be 1tablespoon of Olive or Flax Oil with the rest of his fat coming from his animal sources.
Now the trick to growing is being consistent and the next aware of your changes. Weigh yourself once a week at the same time. I usually weigh myself first thing in the morning as this would give me a much more accurate reading of my true weight. Every 5lbs I redo my calculations. The adjustments will be small but non-the less an impact on your body. The goal is to constantly put on muscle and lose fat, while monitoring our goals accurately.
Bodybuilding is a lifestyle and not a 12-week program. It should be embraced and used to make your life better. Success in life is because you put in the time. Failure to plan is planning to fail. Till then, train hard; eat well, and lets put on some muscle.