For those who just want to get down to business, cut to the chase, and build muscle, the world of bodybuilding nutrition can be a daunting place.
Even with the greatest dietary supplements, pre-workout elixirs, hormone boosters, pump enhancers, and secret formulas that promise the world, absolutely nothing will ever substitute for proper eating. When it comes to building extreme muscle, there are some fundamental rules I teach. Here’s a sample of five rules I consider golden.
1. Eat Frequently
If extreme muscle building was all about what you eat and not when you eat it, then bodybuilding for serious brawn would be easy and you could get it all out of the way with one big meal each day. Just eat half a cow and your biceps would blow up. But this is clearly not the case. In fact, when you eat may be as important, if not more important, than what you eat.
One of the biggest mistakes a bodybuilder who wants massive muscles can make is to ignore this fact in favor of narrowly focusing on protein quality at the neglect of what I call “meal cadence.” This term refers to the rhythmic frequency of meals throughout the day needed to build muscle. Poor meal cadence means having long stretches of little or no food intake and then trying to make up for it by shoving down extra food. As I always say, you should eat because it is feeding time, not because you are starving. If you’re starving, you’ll stuff. Proper eating for big muscle building requires that the metabolism is calm, relaxed, and taken care of. This is achieved by dividing meals into many smaller portions separated by no more than a couple of hours, as opposed to one or two large meals separated by more than three hours. To be more precise, having four to as many as 10 small meals each day is far more effective for building lean muscle than taking in the same exact calories and food content but divided over only one to three meals each day.
Good meal frequency allows you to spread out your protein intake throughout the day, thus optimizing its absorption. Poor meal frequency invariably means that you’ll be excessively hungry at one or more meals and risk overstuffing, which a bodybuilder should absolutely, positively never do. Being stuffed not only crushes your appetite, but it also bloats the belly. Bloating reduces the propensity of your body to absorb vital nutrients and increases its tendency to store what it perceives as excess calories as body fat. In this way, if you take too long to feed yourself, the body tends to gorge on food and slam the breaks on the metabolism. As a result, the same calories that were supposed to be used for building muscle and to provide your body with energy are instead quickly stored as fat, leaving you tired and listless. Using smaller, more frequent, and well-spaced meals throughout the day is the best way to keep the metabolism calm and focused on anabolism (muscle building).
I’ve found that a male bodybuilder wanting to gain mass should space his meals no more than three hours apart. This way, long stretches lacking nutrients are eliminated. Just remember that what constitutes a bodybuilder’s meal in this case is not the same as a normal person’s meal. In fact, the only relatively large meal should be breakfast. After that, all the meals should be small and include not only solid foods but also protein shakes.