Although exercising greatly influences how much muscle mass you build, what you eat also plays an essential role in muscle growth. In fact, a bodybuilder’s diet affects muscle growth rate, so it’s vital that you put the right nutrients into your body to achieve maximum muscle pump. Here are some diet essentials for every bodybuilder.
Protein supports muscle growth and repair, and, with their high protein content, egg whites are a valuable food source for bodybuilders. Each egg white contains around 3.6g of protein. They’re also low in fat, so are ideal if you’re keeping an eye on your weight. Egg whites are also rich in potassium, which can reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.
Choice cuts of lean meat can provide bodybuilders with a raft of nutritional benefits, and can assist with muscle repair and growth.
Lean red meat is rich in iron, which helps maintain oxygen levels in the blood for improved circulation and energy levels. It’s also packed with zinc and B vitamins that can aid muscle repair. Avoid eating red meat daily, however, as it’s high in saturated fats.
Chicken and turkey are a good option for bodybuilders as they’re low in saturated fat and high in protein. Just remember to take the skin off, as this contains fat.
Every bodybuilder should incorporate fish into their diet, as this provides a great source of protein and is low in fat. Choose oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines, as these are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which support the health of your heart, brain and immune system. These ‘good’ fats also help to reduce inflammation in the body, so can assist with healing swollen or tender muscles and joints after a workout.
Bodybuilders should consume around 10 litres of water per day, as water delivers nutrients to the cells in the body, but also aids with blood circulation and can give your muscles the pump you’re craving. If you’re dehydrated, this can affect energy and concentration, making you more prone to injury down the gym.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables provide a whole spectrum of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help the body heal, support growth and remove toxic waste. They’re also high in fibre, so help keep the digestive system in good order. In particular, bananas are a great source of energy before or after a workout.
Meals and calories
If you’re serious about bodybuilding, you’ll need to sustain your energy levels, which may mean eating 5-8 small meals per day to promote muscle growth. Get into the habit of measuring portions to ensure you’re getting the right amount of daily calories and nutrients, especially protein. Bodybuilders need to consume an extra 500 calories daily to gain a pound of muscle each week, as well as 0.63 – 0.77g of protein per pound of body weight daily.
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