3) Feast Like a Beast
You have read everything so far and feel that you have been using a well-planned program of progressive overload; you are serious about your training and never miss a workout. But are you eating enough high-quality food? Ask any pro bodybuilder and they will tell you that eating to gain lean mass is hard work. That’s why inadequate diet is the most common growth-blunting factor in beginner to intermediate bodybuilders. In the most basic sense, you have to eat a lot to grow. In order to maximize muscle growth and gain weight, you must maintain a positive caloric balance (eat more calories than your body expends). However, just like your training, your diet must be well thought out, organized, and designed to meet your goals.
For a starting point, use a BMR calculator to estimate your caloric needs. Here is the Harris-Benedict Equation for BMR:
BMR = 66?
+ (6.23 x weight in pounds)
+ (12.7 x height in inches)
– (6.76 x age in years)
BMR = 655?
+ (4.35 x weight in pounds)
+ (4.7 x height in inches)
– (4.7 x age in years)
Once you know your BMR, then multiply that number to adjust your daily caloric need based on activity level:
(1–3 days per week) = BMR x 1.375
(3–5 days per week) = BMR x 1.55
(6–7 days per week) = BMR x 1.725
Very Heavy Exercise
(Twice per day, extra-heavy workouts) = BMR x 1.9
Finally, take the number you just calculated and add 500 to 1,000 calories to it.
Based on these calculations, you will have a decent estimate of how many calories you should be consuming in a day. Now adjust your macronutrient percentages to 40/40/20 (protein/carbohydrates/fats). Remember, protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram, and fats have nine calories per gram. Everyone’s metabolism is different, thus these percent-ages are not carved in stone. Keep a diet journal and make adjustments based on your progress.
Based on our recommendations, a 200-pound bodybuilder should be eating about 3,500–4,000 calories daily, coming from 350–400g of protein, 350–400g of carbs, and 80–90g of fat.
Eat six meals per day and remember that the body prefers to get calories from whole, unprocessed foods. That’s a lot of food!