What Is The Most Important Meal To A Bodybuilder?

What is the most important meal to a bodybuilder? Here are valuable responses about 3 important meals: pre workout, post workout and breakfast. Learn how these can help your bodybuilding success.

TOPIC: What Is The Most Important Meal To A Bodybuilder?

The Question:

Diet is one of the keys elements towards building a perfect body, therefore it should be well planned out in advance.

What is the most important meal to a bodybuilder?

What would you eat for this meal?

Bonus Question: Do you plan your meals in advance? If so, how do you plan your meals and how far ahead?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

      1. soundcheck129

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      2. ehayes

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      3. nickmanzoni

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      3. History in Effect

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        1st place - 75 in store credit.
        2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - soundcheck129
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What Is The Most Important Meal To A Bodybuilder?

You are what you eat. Muscles are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. Eat big to get big.

In case you didn't get the memo, nutrition is an essential component of fitness. In addition to providing the fuel to lift weight, food also provides the body with energy for the necessary growth and repair. While you should keep your goals in mind every time you sit down to chow down, some meals are more important than others.

If I asked you what you thought the most important meal of the day is, you'd probably either give me the "Mom" answer or the "Bro" answer - namely, breakfast or post workout. However, in my eyes, either way - you'd be wrong.

No, I'm not being crazy, I'm just being logical. The most important meal of your day is your PRE-WORKOUT meal. Why? Simple - the pre-workout meal is the one that determines how hard you can work in the gym. You can't drive a car without anything in the tank, right? So how is your body any different?

I don't care how much you bench or how fast you run. While you can push your body to perform near-miraculous feats, there is one thing you can't do - and that is defy digestion.

Though supplement companies, and yes, even your good bros at the gym, have been pounding the importance of post-workout nutrition into your head, what they fail to realize is that the meal you eat before you workout hasn't even been fully digested by the time you're running to your car to slam your whey isolate and dextrose shake.

You can spike your insulin through the roof after lifting, but it's not going to change what's already working its way through your digestive system.

And just for clarification - by pre-workout meal, I don't mean the creatine-caffeine colada you slam while in the locker room. I'm talking about an actual meal, about one and a half hours before you hit the weights.

What Would You Eat For This Meal?

So what's the magic formula? I guess I'll admit it now. I don't have one. The most important thing to do is eat a balanced meal, meaning one consisting of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

I'd suggest making the bulk of the calories in the pre-workout meal from carbohydrates. Because your body relies on glycogen stores to power you through your workout, you'll need something to fill those stores. And that something is carbohydrates. As you'll be leaving some time before you workout, choose some low-GI carbohydrates to ensure a steady flow of energy and avoid a crash before you even reach the gym.

You'll also want to include protein in your pre-workout meal. Why? Because protein contains amino acids, the building blocks of muscle. Choose a slow-digesting protein, such as meat or casein, as this will keep amino acids in your blood throughout and after your workout. And this is where I'm going to directly oppose the post-workout pushers.

The protein you consume before working out is more important than that which you consume afterwards. Really? Yep - consider this: "Delivery of amino acids has been shown to be significantly greater during the exercise bout when consumed pre-workout than after exercise (Tipton, 2001)1."

Fat is also important to include as it is, among other things, delicious, supports an already healthy blood-sugar level and slow down digestion. Fat is also used for energy, which you'll definitely need for your workout.

Oh, and one more thing - don't forget dessert! That's right, dessert. About an hour after your meal, grab a piece of fruit or some other simple sugar. Why? Because it "can reduce the amount of glycogen used during exercise. This can prolong performance. More importantly, [it] appear[s] to create a hormonal milieu favorable to anabolism (growth)1."

Do You Plan Your Meals In Advance? If So, How Do You Plan Your Meals And How Far Ahead?

With school and work, I'm a pretty busy guy, so it's difficult to plan out all of my meals in advance. I can also be pretty impulsive, so if I'm in the mood for something, I'm going to eat it. However, there is one meal I always plan in advance, and it is, you guessed it - pre-workout.

Compared to pre-workout, post-workout is an after thought; maybe some sushi, whey and cereal, basically whatever I'm in the mood for. Post-workout doesn't really stress me out that much - how is the protein shake I haven't even consumed yet going to help me bang out one more rep?

But pre-workout is pretty consistent. My staple carbohydrate choice is a yam - complex and delicious, can be topped with cinnamon, salt and pepper, almost anything really, very versatile. I also like to get some greens, so I'll usually have a salad, topped with onions, tomatoes and some sort of meat - chicken, tuna, or steak.

If I feel like I need some more calories, I'll throw on some dressing or grab some almonds or peanut butter for fat. That way, I've covered all of the macronutrient bases, but I haven't bogged myself down with a very heavy meal. For my pre-workout "dessert," I'll usually have an apple, an orange, or maybe an energy drink for that little extra boost.

Of course, you can eat whatever you'd like, as long as you're getting a balanced meal that will give you enough energy to dominate the weights. Whatever you decide to eat - dig in!


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2nd Place - ehayes
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What Is The Most Important Meal To A Bodybuilder?

When it comes to the world of bodybuilding one thing that people quickly find out is that opinions vary greatly from person to person. With diet being one of the biggest topics when it comes to a bodybuilder, getting that most important meal of the day can be as much of a necessity as getting their daily workout in.

The most important meal in general for every person, including bodybuilders would have to be breakfast. Breakfast is not only the first meal of the day, it keeps you energized for the rest of the day. It will help your ability to concentrate, helps you control weight if you're in a cut, helps decrease fatigue, and much more.

Without this meal a bodybuilder can be severely hindered in their daily routine. The energy needed when bulking can be extreme having to not only eat a lot more but also move around heavy weights in the gym in the attempt to add more lean mass. Whereas you have the bodybuilder on a cut, without that extra energy and pep that breakfast brings you, you're already feeling down from the lack of carbs in your diet that you're going to be crawling from place to place during your day.

For bodybuilders it is very important to get that jump start of protein as well. Keeping up on your protein intake is very important in order to keep the lean mass on your body, and that starts as soon as you wake up.

Right in the same spot as breakfast is your post-workout meal. I do believe that breakfast helps everyone start off their day on the right foot, though a post-workout meal can be as important, if not more important to a bodybuilder.

After a hard workout and your body breaking down your muscle fibers, there is a very important 30-minute gap in which your greatest opportunity to replenish your body takes place. After a workout your muscles are looking to immediately start rebuilding themselves. You need to get protein and carbs in as soon as possible.

Stay away from fats in a post-workout meal. Fat will actually slow down your digestive process and make it longer before your muscles will receive the carbs and protein you just fed to it.

Carbs are extremely important to your muscles after a workout. Without carbs your body will start to break down muscle tissue itself in order to restore the muscle glycogen levels that are lacking after a workout. Carbs not only restore these levels but also will create an insulin spike which will help move the nutrients to your muscle tissue even faster. So make sure you're getting those carbs and maybe a good protein shake and your body will get stronger and bigger in no time.

What Would You Eat For This Meal?


      For breakfast a good balance is to aim for around 10% of fat, 40% protein and 50% carbs. This also can vary person to person and is something you can change depending on what kind of diet you are dealing with. Depending on if you're dealing with a cut or a bulk, things like carbs and fats can vary greatly. Though a good starting point either way could be as followed:
      • 6 - 8 eggs (with 2-3 yolks) - Though for example, in a bulk, I don't even separate the yolks cause I don't mind getting some extra fat.
      • 1 glass of fruit juice.
      • Bowl of oatmeal - Great for carbs; best if you can handle the types without added sugar or flavoring.
      • A basic BCAA tab or some Omega 3's - this could be in the form of flaxseed or fish oil as well
      • .

With this basic meal you are covering all your bases and getting a great protein base as well. Without jumping to high in the fat category.

Post Workout:

      Post-workout meals can be relatively small meals. It's usually more important in trying to have speed in getting that meal down the hatch as soon as possible. Your window of opportunity is less than an hour after your workout so you don't always have time to get home and prepare a nice meal.
      I'll include two of my favorites. A good aim for a lot of people is to get around 30-40 grams of protein and 60-80 grams of carbs after a workout.

Meal 1:

        One scoop of

whey protein

        mixed with

skim milk

        . Along with that you can drink a large or small Gatorade. That way you are getting a good amount of carbs in your body to help spike the insulin levels and get a high amount of protein. At the same time you are keeping the fat intake low so that the process of getting the nutrients to the muscles is faster.

Meal 2:

        One scoop of whey protein mixed with skim milk. A bowl of

brown rice

        with chopped of pieces of


      or tilapia. Again you are getting your protein and high carb levels. With chicken and tilapia you are getting a great form of lean protein which is extremely low in fat at the same time.

Here are some useful links to help fulfill your breakfast and post-workout meals:

Do You Plan Your Meals In Advance? If So, How Do You Plan Your Meals And How Far Ahead?

I usually will plan about half my meals in advance. For example when I head to bed, I make sure that I have what I am going to need to eat for the following morning. I'll make sure I have enough eggs, or say enough oatmeal in order to satisfy my hunger once I wake up.

Sometimes I'll even prepare a meal beforehand and put it into the fridge so that I can just warm it up in the morning. Being a student I'm on the go a lot so planning ahead can be an advantage in order to save time when I'm trying to get places. This doesn't only go for students but everyone with a busy schedule that doesn't always have enough time to cook up a nice meal on the stove.

The big meals are usually the ones I'll plan out ahead of time. That way I know what I need to get done and how to get it done quickly. As for post-workout meals, a lot of times I will already have my shakes mixed up and waiting for me in my fridge when I get home.

Though I'll even go as far as just bringing my shake with me and leaving it in the locker room at the gym, so that way when I get home, all I have to do is fix a bowl of rice and my post-workout meal is eaten in less than 30 minutes after my workout.

With proper planning and health habits, you can see great changes in your physique. A great start is getting that ever important breakfast and the necessity known as a post-workout meal.

Once you start getting the habit down, you'll be looking in the mirror and not even recognizing yourself with the vast results you'll be gaining from just having good eating habits. Now get out there, have fun, and chow down!

3rd Place - nickmanzoni
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What Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

This is actually a topic that I have discussed with many people: clients, friends, colleagues, etc. It is always a point of contention, and in this article I will state how I feel that breakfast is the epitome of importance for the aspiring bodybuilder.

As we prepare our pre-bedtime snack we prepare ourselves for sleep. During this sleep state, we are unable to eat causing us to fast. There are several staggering implications here.

First and foremost, our circadian rhythm is undergoing a series of self-regulating actions. Hormone production and cell regeneration are two major actions that are specifically important to us bodybuilders. This regulation requires a replenishment of nutrients during this phase of sleep! Since we are sleeping, we can't refuel our body until we awake from our self-imposed fast, thus the term "breakfast".

Eating a well formulated breakfast has a lot of very practical uses, as well as some added bonuses for us bodybuilders. We need to think to ourselves: "How do I feel when I go for more than 5 hours without eating a meal?" Sluggish, irritable and weak are just a few adjectives that I've experienced myself.

Now, if you sleep at least 6-8 hours a night, how do you think you're going to feel after your first hour of being awake? Sluggish, irritable, and weak! We have a tremendous decision to make out of bed: to eat or to grab ten extra minutes of sleep. That's how much time it takes really to make a breakfast if you plan it out.

Let me enlighten you on some implications of actually eating breakfast. It is certainly not a myth that it will jump start your metabolism. If we miss breakfast, we have missed the chance for us to stay out of our catabolic state, robbing ourselves of the muscle we've been repairing during sleep! The implications here?

If we took the time, we'd lower our chances of having problems with insulin (a naughty little hormone that if abused gets you fat) and lowers your chances of getting to a state of being very overweight. What bodybuilder do you know has a nice spare tire and cannot tolerate a serving of fruit?

Let's keep thinking about this: If you eat a good breakfast, you are less likely to binge eat for your first meal of the day, and thus keeping you from further slowing your metabolism. So far so good! Furthermore, if one had the proper breakfast, more than likely you're getting your most important load of macro-nutrients right out of the gate keeping you high with energy for the first hours of the day.

Let's Get On With It!
What Are We Eating For This Very Important Meal?

In order to answer that, we want to look into what exactly we want to get from our breakfast: elevated, sustainable energy and a feeling of fullness that will keep you away from that cruller on the coffee table at work.

Don't Give In To The Craving.
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Don't Give In To The Craving.

In order to accomplish this feat we must consider the sources of food available: carbohydrates; our little energy friends, protein; our buddy if we want to keep our muscles strong and resilient, and fat; the macro with the poor publicist but actually can be used to keep us full.

A typical bodybuilding breakfast? You asked for it: eggs and oatmeal. How simple can this be? SO important is this meal, but you can actually prepare it within the time for the coffee maker to spit out your morning companion.

Think about this: the complex carbohydrates found in the oatmeal will give you an elevated and sustainable energy boost for a good few hours after waking, while the eggs which have a whopping 6-8 grams of protein per egg, and the yolk that people are afraid of has natural and healthy fats in them which keep you fuller longer.

If you were to do some shopping, you can find some oatmeal with serving portions that are pretty much the bodybuilders dream meal: high in fiber, good complex carbs, a modest showing of protein, and goes great with banana and a glass of milk. The eggs are just as important: a solid matrix of virtually 100% absorbable and useable protein, and are a healthy choice for fat.

If you're fat phobic, fat can be taken out all together with a quick alteration of pure egg whites verses egg yolk. Don't feel like separating the yolk? Try the pre-packaged egg whites next to your dairy counter: sure it's a tad pricey but will shave your prep time to seconds!

I swear by a cup of oatmeal with a banana and 2 whole eggs. It is a dream team for bodybuilders and health enthusiasts alike.

One may ask if it really is necessary to plan ahead for such an easy breakfast: well we could (I do). It takes just the time to package a cup of oatmeal in a Tupperware container with the coffee maker on delay brew filled with hot water to go off 5 minutes before I wake.

While I pour the piping hot water over my oats and waiting for them to cool, the eggs by now would already be on a pan ready to get scrambled. It literally takes me 5 minutes to prepare my meal, and another 10 to eat. I can eat this meal into the foreseeable future or even as another meal later in the day. It's cheap, it's easy, it's portable, and is the most important meal of the day.

Thanks for reading.

3rd Place - History in Effect
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What Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

As a bodybuilder, you are most concerned with working out, which enables you to build muscle and gain size before your competition. The problem is that many amateur bodybuilders fail to delve deep enough into the nutritional side of things.

Nutrition along with control are the two pivotal factors in becoming a successful bodybuilder. A few bodybuilders neglect to eat the right things at the right time, and thus when its time to perform on the stage they succumb under the light.

Yes, breakfast is an important meal to everybody including bodybuilders, but I am focusing on workout days for bodybuilders. This is where the prime muscle building action is taking place. For this, I see that the post-workout meal is the most important meal to any bodybuilder and here's why:

Bodybuilders get in the gym and throw around massive weights that regular people only dream that they could. The weight they throw around leads to tears in their muscles that will grow back, but at a slow rate. This is where post-workout nutrition comes in to feed those aching muscles after a long, rigorous workout.

You need to recover and grow, so post-workout nutrition is the name of the game. This is referred to as the "window of opportunity" for many experts as post-workout feeds those growing muscles after a hard workout. You better not skip this meal, because you will regret it.

What Would You Eat For This Meal?

Everybody knows in the bodybuilding world that your glycogen stores are drained after a hard workout, so the question is how do you bounce back from that? You need carbs ladies and gentleman.

The Ironman's Guide to Ultimate Bodybuilding Nutrition states that "your glycogen stores are usually depleted after a workout, your body tends to absorb a large amount of carbohydrates to replace the lost glycogen. Therefore, high-carbohydrate meals have less of a tendency to be converted into body fat after a workout (Sisco, 152).

Besides needing carbs, you also need protein. Whey protein in particular would be my choice. If you want the biggest gains, you need protein to feed your muscles so they can recover faster allowing them to get bigger. Branch chain amino acids and glutamine in your whey protein are wonderful choices. If your going to drink a shake, I would consider one with a 2:1 ration of carbs to protein or something of that manner.

Here are some post-workout supplements I recommend:

There are many others, but the ones listed are some examples of post-workout supplementation. I like to take in supplements that allow me to get at least 30 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs which is a good number for a beginning bodybuilder. Alan Aragon is a good source and his nutrition forum guidelines provide a much simpler look at this:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW Carbs = 0.5g/lb TBW


Amount of fat here doesn't matter as long as your daily target is hit.

Now, if you don't have the funds to spend money on post-workout supplements then go with something easier. Post-workout food is much simpler to figure out and you can use the same guidelines that Aragon has given to formulate a muscle-building, muscle-recovery post-workout meal.

My typical meal consists of:

I also make take in a handful of almonds as its nutritious and provides a good dose of mono-unsaturated fats which you need.

Do You Plan Your Meals In Advance? If So, How Do You Plan Your Meals And How Far Ahead?

If I'm in the school cafeteria, I can plan my meals in advance. My lunch room has enough healthy choices which allow me to craft an almost perfect post-workout meal. My school usually posts the menu up online or at the beginning of the day, so I am able to calculate how many carbs and protein I should be eating. I can plan hours ahead for this.

If I am eating in my room, I don't plan too much in advance because I usually only have healthy foods. If I am in a rush, I can measure out a cup of oats and cook some thawed out chicken breast in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Post-workout nutrition is not something you can do one day a week, it's PIVOTAL.