Do you want to be big like Arnold? We won’t try and spell his last name (you know who he is).
What you shove in your mouth helps determine what you lift in the gym. Most bodybuilders benefit from eating 2.3-3.1 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass per day of protein.
If you really want to be a bodybuilder, then 15-30% of your daily caloric intake should be from fat, while the rest should be made up of carbohydrates – probably not french fries! So what are the foods that are packed with nutrients and the healthy fats and carbohydrates you need in order to have the low body fat that allows you to look ripped like Bruce Lee?
Whether you’re looking to build mass or lose weight and tone up, these superfoods will be both instrumental as well as enjoyable to add to your bodybuilding diet:
It doesn’t taste great alone, but protein is the building blocks of muscles. It makes sense then to structure a bodybuilding diet around protein. But just because a food is high in protein, doesn’t mean it’s what you need.
A McDonald’s Big Mac has 25 grams of protein, but for several reasons (most of them obvious), is not going to be a recommended source of protein for someone looking to build muscle and lower total body fat.
Let’s take a look at some great sources of protein that will be great additions to your bodybuilding diet.
Whole eggs, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids, are a great source of protein. A whole egg can have up to 31 grams of protein – yes, that’s more than a Big Mac. And if you’re selecting a brand of eggs with omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are also a great source of healthy fats.
Note: If you’re worried about too high of a fat count, especially if you’re eating several eggs in a sitting, try leaving half of the yolks out to reduce some of the fat content.
Wild-caught salmon contains 39g of protein per 154g filet. They also have tons of omega-3 fatty acids.
Wild-caught salmon instead or farmed salmon? Farmed salmon has much lower omega-3 count than the wild salmon.
Greek Yogurt & Cottage Cheese
Greek yogurt, as well as cottage cheese, are two dairy products that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates and sugar. They also have the added benefit of live active cultures that will aide in healthy digestion.
Going number two just got better for you.
If you don’t like plain Greek yogurt, try making a parfait with a tablespoon of chia seeds, fresh berries, and a teaspoon of local honey. For all you smoothie drinkers out there, use Greek yogurt in your smoothie as a base instead of milk or water.
Flax & Chia Seeds
It feels like just five years ago flax and chia seeds have become all the rage, but both have been used for their health benefits for thousands of years.
They both are full of omega-3 fatty acids that lend to their high protein content (flax seeds have 1.9 grams of protein per tablespoon and chia seeds have 4.7 grams of protein per ounce).
There’s an infinite amount of ways to add these superfoods to your bodybuilding diet. You can add ground flax seed powder to smoothies or whole-wheat pancakes. As stated previously, you can add chia seeds to yogurt parfaits or oatmeal.
The most obvious sources of protein are meat. Choose lean meat, however, that will allow you to consume large quantities without too much fat.
Great choices of lean protein are lean ground beef (95%/5% ratio), ground turkey and chicken, chicken, and turkey breasts, pork tenderloin, bison meat, and any game meat (venison is the best option).
In addition to wild-caught salmon, there are plenty of great sources of protein that can be found in the ocean depths. Scallops, mahi-mahi (16 grams of protein in a 3 ounce serving), tuna steaks, and even canned chuck white albacore tuna (which boasts 16 grams of protein for a drained 2.8 ounces of meat).
Getting hungry yet?
Protein powder tastes like chalk but it’s a great way to supplement your protein intake before and after your workout because it’s easy to transport and takes very little time to consume.
Knowing the best type of whey protein can be difficult. Take time to research some great protein powders.
Fats should be part of your diet that you carefully consider – Cheetos probably won’t make the cut.
Contrary to popular belief, fats do not make you fat. High-calorie content with high trans fats make you fat. They also increase your bad cholesterol and cause heart disease.
The good fats we want to include are monounsaturated fats. Some examples of monounsaturated fats are extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and most nuts and nut butters.
Nut, especially almonds, soy nuts, and walnuts are great sources of protein, with a high portion of antioxidants. They’re also a great go-to snack when you’re at work or on the go.
Now, we can get to the portion of the bodybuilding diet that is everyone’s favorite: carbs. While you do need a fair amount of carbohydrates to help your muscles recover from your workout, consume the good carbs that are made up of whole grains.
Some of the whole grain carbohydrates that have a lot of protein are red and white quinoa, oats, chickpeas, brown rice, and beans and lentils.
Get creative with your carb intake! Try making a taco bowl with quinoa, black beans, salsa, and ground turkey. Or make a meatloaf with substitute oats instead of breadcrumbs – you could also grind up the oats in a blender for a smoother texture.
We can’t forget about fiber!
Why is fiber so vital? It helps regulate healthy digestion, lowers bad cholesterol, and makes you feel more full. So, for bodybuilders looking to build mass, be sure to get some of these in your diet in moderation.
Think blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries. They’re all high in vitamin C (for that healthy immune system) and taste delicious!
Spinach, kale, romaine, collard greens, and chard don’t taste amazing by themselves. If you can figure out creative ways to get them down your throat, you’ll fill yourself with vitamin A which supports good vision.
Tomatoes are full of lycopene which helps fight prostate cancer!
Completing Your Bodybuilding Diet
People always forget to drink plenty of water.
Forget the eight glasses of day rule. Try to drink half your bodyweight in ounces. If you weight 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water per day.
Remember, you can help reach your bodybuilding goals by supplementing with legal steroids to gain weight or try out diet pills to lose weight. Consult with your physician or nutritionist before adding those to your regimen.
Try adding these great superfoods to your diet. There’s no limit to the delicious, healthy recipes you can include into your life that will help you reach your goal.
Soon, we’ll be reading about how you’re the next Arnold Sch…