At the heart of looking good is eating well. Unfortunately, that’s the bit that often stops people from reaching their full potential with getting the body they want.
Once you’ve focused on your diet, cut out the wrong foods, and really worked hard to build it into becoming a daily habit, you’ll see more dramatic changes.
So what we’re going to do here is look at how you can construct a bodybuilding meal plan. I’ll show you that it doesn’t have to be hard, and I’ll also talk to you about everything that underpins it. The macronutrients, the ratios, how to change things when you are bulking or cutting, and what supporting supplements you should be using.
Why Would You Bother To Construct An Exact Bodybuilding Meal Plan?
A lot of people make do when it comes to eating well to bulk up or cut fat. They have a general idea, so they try and stick to those foods, and they know they have to eat more, or less, depending on what they are trying to achieve.
The problem is that you’re losing 10% of what you could be gaining (or losing) by not focusing on diet and nutrition properly.
I found it to be absolutely crucial, and if you really do aspire to develop a fantastic physique, and maintaining it, then you have to not only change your mindset and physical effort, but you also have to change your diet and stick to it.
Changing How You Eat When You Are Bulking Or Cutting
There’s a bit of a misconception out there that you have to completely change your diet, depending on whether you are in a bulking or cutting phase.
You’ll see some guys online just hammering calories when they bulk. I’m talking a crazy amount of calories of any type. The idea being that any calories will do. Yes, they will talk about good nutrition, but it’s calories, calories, calories that matter.
And when they cut, it’s the same. Doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as it’s low-fat and there’s not much of it. While you hammer the gym like crazy to burn calories.
But here’s the thing. What I’m now going to tell you is very different from some of the crazy stuff you’ll see. The truth is, you can continue to read exactly the same great diet, no matter whether you are bulking or cutting. All that matters is calories.
Understanding The Three Types Of Macronutrients And How To Ratio Than
Calories come in three different forms, called macronutrients: fats containing 9 cal per gram, alongside carbohydrates and proteins that contain 4 cal per gram. The ratios you should eat these three macronutrients within our around 30% of your calories in protein, up to 60% in carbohydrates, and 10% in fat.
That carbohydrates total may look high, and you could drop it to 50% and add another 10% to the protein, but you have to have carbohydrates to fuel your body. Otherwise, although you will feel hungry, you just won’t have the burst of energy needed, which is why people then resort to things like sugary energy drinks.
Working Out Your Calorie Intake During A Bulking Or Cutting Phase
I mentioned a little while ago it’s not the foods that you need to change when you are bulking or cutting, is just the number of calories.
You now also know you don’t even have to change the ratio of macronutrients; it really is all about the calories. You could literally eat the same diet, as long as it’s great, and just alter the calorie intake.
What I’m gonna suggest you do is use a calorie tracking app when you are in maintenance mode. Do it for about six weeks. That will help you to build up a really comprehensive picture of your average calorie intake, and how good your food intake generally is. You’ll also get an idea of the macronutrient ratio that you naturally tend towards.
Once you are armed with that, you can then tweak your diet to get all the right foods in place, cut out the bad foods. You can then start to tweak your macronutrient ratio.
Then when you bulk, with all that in place, you simply put 15% extra calories per day on top of what you eat in maintenance mode.
Cutting? No problem, you just take 15% off each day. Maybe 20% if you want to push a little further without exhausting yourself and suffering from malnutrition, which will actually get your body to cling onto the fat and burn muscle.
So if you’re eating 3000 cal in maintenance mode, you’ll eat 3450 when you are bulking, and 2250 when you are cutting. It really is that simple, and just continue to use a calorie tracking app to make all this easy for you.
The Foods To Build Into Your Workout Plan And The Foods To Cut Out
Let’s start with the negatives first. These are the foods (and drink) you really need to stay completely away from if you’re going to make your work out diet plan waterproof:
Alcohol (it slows things down and lowers your motivation)
Anything with added sugars (especially sugary drinks)
Sugary foods generally
Stay away from sweetened drinks of all types (including sugar in coffee and tea)
Deep-fried foods (including deep-fried fish)
High-fat foods (me, buttery foods, heavy foods)
It’s not rocket science, but those things are usually heavy, unhealthy, and don’t help you mentally or physically. They are definitely not the sort of things you should be eating if you are trying to fuel muscle growth or cut fat.
So here’s a basic list of the sort of food groups you should be eating all the time whether you are bulking or cutting:
Lean meat, poultry, and fish
Some dairy (natural yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cheese)
Whole grains (but try and stay away from even wholemeal bread)
Fruits in moderation (focus on berries more than any other type)
Vegetables, especially broccoli, leafy salads, spinach, tomatoes, green beans
Seeds and nuts (but not salted peanuts to excess)
Beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, quinoa
For oil stick to olive oil, flaxseed oil, and a little avocado oil
Now that isn’t comprehensive, but you’ll see the pattern here. And importantly, I’ll mention again, you don’t vary this whether you are bulking or cutting, it’s just the calorie intake volume that you alter.
Should You Use Bodybuilding Supplements?
Some bodybuilding supplements can really help you. But others aren’t so good. You’ll have to do some research to see one’s that work, and why others aren’t so recommended.
But things like good quality whey protein powders, are great ways to get a boost of protein either within your diet plan or after you have hit the gym as an additional layer of protein supply.
You should also consider taking a creatine monohydrate supplement an hour before you hit the gym. It will allow your muscles to have a little bit more energy to complete those additional reps that you usually struggle to do with good form. Alternatively, or in addition, you can take some just after the gym, mix in with your protein shake (many brands contain it anyway).
Caffeine is also good. Not to excess, but it does give you energy and focus. As a mild nootropic, I’d suggest that 30 minutes before you hit the gym take a 200 mg caffeine pill with a 400 mg L-Theanine capsule, as it smooths out the jitteriness of the caffeine hit and allows you calm and focus.
How To Construct A Simple Workout Meal Plan
So now we’ve covered the basics. You know the sort of food you should eat, and those which are excluded from any good quality bodybuilding meal plan.
You now also understand the proportion of macronutrients you should be eating, and how the carbohydrate proportion is slightly higher than a lot of people think. But if you are going to use protein shakes around the time of your workout, then that can up your protein proportion. Just account for the calories.
On top of all that, you understand that it’s not about changing the foods, it’s just about changing the calories depending on whether you are bulking or cutting.
So let’s now put all that together by giving you an example of the few average days of meal planning that you can use as a building block to create your own meal plans from.
Meal planner example day 1
Breakfast: scrambled or fried eggs with avocado toast
Morning snack: low-fat cottage cheese with blueberries
Lunch: venison burger with broccoli
Afternoon snack: protein shake and fruit
Dinner: mackerel, brown rice, and a green salad
Meal planner example day 2
Breakfast: low-fat Greek yoghurt with blueberries or strawberries
Morning snack: yogurt with granola
Lunch: chicken breast, brown rice, sour cream and broccoli
Afternoon snack: protein shake and fruit
Dinner: turkey steak in a marinade sauce with wholemeal pasta
Meal plan example day 3
Breakfast: chicken sausage with egg and peas
Morning snack: jerky with a handful of mixed nuts
Lunch: chicken breast, sweet potato mash, bell peppers
Afternoon snack: protein shake and fruit
Dinner: stirfry with lean meat, brown rice, broccoli, carrots, and peppers
As you can see, it’s impossible to be comprehensive, mainly because everyone is different and won’t like a lot of those foods. For example, I know a lot of people loathe cottage cheese, but you can swap it out for something else. But you get the idea of what we are talking about here. You just tailor the volumes to whether you are bulking or cutting. All of the same healthy principles apply for as long as you are working on your body.
Notice how the afternoon snack is always a protein shake with fruit. You could alter that simply by turning it into a food snack, something like low-fat cottage cheese with fruit. You could then switch the protein shake, maybe with creatine monohydrate added, in as a post-workout boost. Just account for the fact that your average protein shake can contain 500 cal or more.
Make Sure You Work Hard And Use All The Tools At Your Disposal
So my final word here guys is that it’s not actually that difficult to put together a bodybuilding meal plan really easily and stick to it.
The basics are pretty straightforward. All you’re doing is moving the calorie intake up or down, like a gear lever, depending on what phase you are in on your bodybuilding journey. Don’t be tempted to add different types of food in just to bring calories, or to start slashing foods out to cut Fat. If you’re having to do that, you should question why you have those foods in your diet in the first place.
Also, remain motivated. Don’t beat yourself up if you end up having a few beers, or you pick up a burger and chips with your kids once a month. Otherwise, it becomes obsessional and unhealthy.
The only thing I’d add to that is you could use additional supplements as well to rocket things further upwards towards your goal more quickly.
SARMs are one option. I use them sometimes. Ostarine is particularly good for cutting, because it tells the body to cut fat more, and protect muscle. It’s quite mild, meaning you don’t have to worry very much about testosterone drop. But SARMs definitely will significantly help you to achieve results more quickly.
An alternative is the natural herbal supplements from CrazyBulk. They aren’t as potent, but alongside everything I’ve talked about here, they will definitely help you to bulk up more quickly, cut more fat, and have more energy.
You have to look at this as a holistic lifestyle change. You can’t just suddenly change your diet to all this stuff, work hard, and then give up after six months.
So take a look at everything I’ve said here, consider using high-quality whey protein supplements that have added vitamins and creatine monohydrate in them, and on top of that look at SARMs or natural bodybuilding supplements to help the results you get to be that little bit more pronounced than you can achieve naturally.