When it comes to packing on pounds of pure, unadulterated muscle, diet is the single most important part of your overall bodybuilding program. You can workout all you want, but if your diet isn't in check you will never achieve the physique of your dreams.
The body relies heavily on nutrients from the foods and supplements that you consume to help create an environment conducive to huge gains. Although there are an infinite number of choices out there, a select few muscle-builders come up time and time again on every true bodybuilder's shopping list.
1. Egg Whites
There's a reason why every successful bodybuilder in the world incorporates egg whites into their diet. With a protein to fat ratio of 60:1, egg whites are unquestionably one of the purest forms of protein in the world.
This magnificent muscle-building food also possesses an extremely high biological value—meaning that a large proportion of the protein absorbed from egg whites is readily utilized by your body for protein synthesis. Egg whites also contain very few carbohydrates and are a source of vitamins and minerals.
- Egg whites: 50 calories | 84% protein | 8% carbs | 0% fat
To pack on pounds of serious muscle, lean meats such as chicken and turkey breasts should be a staple in every bodybuilder's diet. Aside from providing an excellent source of high quality protein, they are also extremely low in saturated and trans fats.
- Chicken breast: 172 calories | 48% protein | 0% carbs | 48% fat
- Turkey: 119 calories | 73% protein | 0% carbs | 22% fat
Although the recurring theme so far has been to eat foods that are low in fat, fish is one exception to this rule. Of course you want to stay away from saturated and trans fats, but your body still needs essential fatty acids such as omega-3 to help support the muscle-building process.
Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Canned fish packed in water also comes in very handy because it provides a quick source of protein when on the go.
- Salmon: 116 calories | 69% protein | 0% carbs | 27% fat
- Tuna: 116 calories | 88% protein | 0% carbs | 6% fat
- Trout: 148 calories | 56% protein | 0% carbs | 40% fat
- Sardines: 208 calories | 47% protein | 0% carbs | 50% fat
If you are serious about building muscle, you can't ignore the power of beans and legumes. When people typically think of bodybuilding foods, they immediately refer to various lean meats, but what they don't realize is that the bean is a delicious and highly nutritious source of protein and fiber.
Fiber is essential to maintaining a regular and normal healthy bowel movement as well as proper insulin response—which is critical to muscle growth as both functions aid in absorption and use of various nutrients and supplements ingested by bodybuilders.
Kidney beans in particular are a very popular choice as they provide nearly 14 grams of both protein and fiber per cup! That's why you should never ignore the power of the bean!
- Kidney beans: 29 calories | 58% protein | 57% carbs | 17% fat
- Lima beans: 113 calories | 24% protein | 71% carbs | 7% fat
- Navy beans: 67 calories | 37% protein | 78% carbs | 9% fat
5. Lean Red Meat
Lean ground beef and cuts of red meat are excellent mass-building food sources rich in protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Red meats have a high calorie per serving ratio, making it an excellent choice for hard gainers looking to pack on some serious size.
However, because red meats do possess a higher level of saturated fats, they should not be consumed on an everyday basis. Lean red meats are best incorporated into a weekly diet of chicken, turkey and fish—adding a little variety to your weekly nutrition plan.
6. Slow-Burning Carbs Or Low Glycemic Carbs
Muscle isn't built with protein alone. You also need a good source of slow-burning carbohydrates to fuel and sustain your muscles. Slow-acting carbohydrates found in foods such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes make the best pre-workout snack. Why?
Well, when you exercise, muscle glycogen (carbs stored within your muscle) becomes the main source of fuel. As glycogen levels decrease from hard training, your intensity begins to decrease and more importantly, your body begins to tap your muscles for a source of energy thereby causing them to degenerate!
That's why it's so important that no matter what your goals are, in order for your muscle-building machinery to run at maximum levels, you need a consistent source of fuel such as a serving of slow-digesting carbs.
When it comes to muscle-builders, the first thing to come to mind is meat. But the number one item that should be in your arsenal is water. Just think about it—70 percent of your body is made up of water. Your muscles, tissue cells and ligaments all contain water. And most importantly, your life force—blood—is made up substantially of water.
When it comes to building a massive physique, you need to keep yourself in the most anabolic state possible and that is why many bodybuilders recommend drinking 10 liters of water a day. Staying hydrated also keeps your muscles full looking.
In addition water also serves as a medium in nutrient transport to your muscle cells, making more efficient and effective use of the nutrients and supplements that you consume.
8. Whey Protein
Now, we've talked about various food sources that can be found at any grocery store, but there is one extremely important supplement that is more than worthy of being included on this list—whey protein.
When it comes to packing on pounds of muscle, it is generally recommended that your protein intake be approximately 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
So for example, if you weigh 175 pounds, you need to consume between 175 to 210 grams of protein per day. That's a lot of protein to be consuming from whole food sources only. That is why a whey protein supplement is an excellent way to increase your protein intake throughout the day. It is also easy to prepare and consume.
To get your anabolic furnace going, you can make a shake as soon as you pop out of bed, immediately after your workout and before heading to bed to ensure that you are getting the required protein into your system—allowing you to achieve some serious gains in muscle.
Without a doubt, if there was one supplement that should be incorporated into every aspiring bodybuilder's diet, it should be whey protein.
If your goal is to pack pounds of pure muscle onto your frame, you can't be eating "empty" calories that do nothing but add mass to your waistline. You need to carefully select the right foods and supplements and incorporate them into your daily diet. By adding the muscle-builders mentioned, there is no doubt that you will be on the right path to achieving the physique of your dreams.