Let’s face it: When it comes to natural bodybuilding, training is the part that everyone looks forward to. Understanding how to train a specific muscle group properly with the correct intensity, volume, and other acute variables looks easy in comparison to perfecting your meal planner or supplementation guide. This comprehensive list covers the top 15 secrets to success when your goal is to build natural muscle. Use it as a quick reference to keep yourself on track!
NATURAL BODYBUILDING NUTRITION
1. EAT PLENTY OF PROTEIN
Quality proteins are the building blocks of muscle. While individual protein needs will vary from person to person, there is a general guideline for the amount of protein you should be consuming day-to-day. It is recommended, if your goal is growth, to consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. For the “hardgainer” and more advanced bodybuilder, it may be necessary to ingest up to 2 grams per pound.
In terms of selecting the highest quality proteins, you aren’t going to find anything better than the classic staples: eggs (whites), whey, and meat. Eggs are the perfect bodybuilding food: High in protein and zinc. Eggs are also convenient, inexpensive, and highly bioavailable. They can be prepared in a number of different ways and also offer healthy fats from the yolk.
Whey protein powder is another great way to get a fast serving of quality protein. It’s important to use a high quality whey that isn’t full of artificial chemicals or carbs. It’s also important to make sure that the whey protein isn’t amino-spiked. Jacked Factory will soon be releasing a delicious Whey Isolate Protein, naturally sweetened, gluten free, and free of any artificial chemicals or flavors. Stay tuned!
Another option is classic dairy products such as protein from milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Milk is a relatively inexpensive way to get in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. However, be aware that milk also contains fat and lactose, which may be a potential downside for some people. For hard-gainers or those that need a high amount of calories to gain weight, it may be a perfect option. Cottage cheese is actually the slow digesting casein portion of milk so it’s no surprise that it is a solid protein source. Yogurt, aside from containing plentiful protein, can also be an excellent source of immune boosting, gut healthy probiotics. Yogurt can also contain sugar and fat depending on the brand, so keep an eye on that!
Finally, meat! While meat in general is great for bodybuilding, it is recommended to stick to the cleaner cuts. Local poultry, grass-fed beef and lean pork are examples of excellent clean complete proteins that can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids it needs.
As a general rule of thumb, try to get in an animal protein with each meal.
2. DON’T NEGLECT CARBS
The body’s preferred source of fuel is carbohydrates. You are able to use protein and fats for energy, but this involves a more complex process within your body.
For the most part, when consuming carbohydrates you will want to focus on complex carbs that are slow digesting. Carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic Index (foods such as: whole-grain rice, pasta, bread, and oatmeal) are your best options. Simple carbohydrates such as white breads and white potatoes are essentially fast digesting simple sugars. These types of carbs will typically spike your insulin and result in a crash.
Complex carbohydrates digest at a slower rate, which results in a steady rate of nutrients being released into the bloodstream. Most importantly, complex carbohydrates are efficiently utilized.
The general guideline to carbohydrate intake is between two to three grams per pound of bodyweight per day. The exception is during a cutting phase where you would reduce your carbohydrate intake consumption to one gram per pound of bodyweight per day. This of course may vary greatly depending on the individual, however this is a guideline.
3. HEALTHY FATS
The last thing you want to do if you want to gain serious size is neglect an entire macronutrient. Despite what you may hear, healthy fats do exist! Foods that are high in healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fat, are the ideal source for bodybuilders. They play a crucial role in muscle repair and protection. The only fat you should be avoiding is Trans-fat. Even saturated fats play an important role in your bodybuilding goals.
The king of the healthy fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in fish such as salmon; oils such as flaxseed oil; and seeds such as pumpkin seeds. Here are more examples of fats that you want to include in your diet:
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
4. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR VEGETABLES
When it comes to a bodybuilding diet, the focus is always on animal products and rarely does fresh produce get a moment in the spotlight. Just because you are trying to build muscle doesn’t mean you should skimp on the six to nine servings of vegetables per day.
Vegetables are extremely important as they provide your body with powerful nutrients that will only play a positive role in your results. Fiber, for instance, will ensure proper digestion and nutrient utilization. High protein diets can result in a number of ailments including kidney stones if fiber intake is too low.
Men should aim to get in 35 to 40 grams of fiber per day and women should aim for 25 to 30 grams. Ideally, you will reach this number through whole foods but a fiber supplement may be needed.
5. WATER… YES! IT’S THAT IMPORTANT
The importance of water can never be overstated. It is the essential element for overall health and it plays an important role in helping you grow. Proper hydration ensures a number of amazing benefits including efficient protein synthesis, proper digestion, and removal of waste products. Think of water as a transporter. It helps nutrients enter the bloodstream and into the muscle while moving harmful byproducts out of the body. For those taking supplements, which you more than likely are, water is especially needed. Many fitness supplements like creatine use up a good deal of water and can quickly lead to dehydration. A good rule of thumb for any serious bodybuilder is to drink at least one gallon per day.
1. MAKE QUALITY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS YOUR FRIEND
Bodybuilders need a level of protein that is much higher than the requirement for your average person. While this can probably be accomplished through whole foods, it’s important to make a quality protein supplement a part of your routine. A protein supplement is a convenient solution that can be utilized as a snack or post-workout meal.
Aim for a high quality whey isolate that provides you with 20 to 30 grams per serving. This will help you reach your protein goal of one to two grams per pound of body weight per day. The best thing about protein supplements is the rapid digestion and utilization of the amino acids, forcing them directly into the muscle.
A protein supplement isn’t a requirement, however it makes it easy to get enough daily protein in.
2. CREATINE FOR STRENGTH, SIZE, & RECOVERY
Next to protein, Creatine is one of the tried and true bodybuilding supplements. Creatine converts into ATP within the body, allowing you to push yourself harder during each workout. It also plays a positive role in the post-workout recovery process. You’ll feel less sore and be able to recover faster. A quality Creatine supplement will provide you with five grams per serving. Take one serving before and after workouts. Our flagship Pre-Workout Supplement – ALTIUS contains a full 3 grams of creatine, as well as our Post-Workout Supplement – REDEMPTION.
3. DON’T FORGET CREATINE’S BUDDY, GLUTAMINE
Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a big role when it comes to muscle metabolism. Glutamine is responsible for transporting up to 35% of nitrogen into the muscle cell! Nitrogen is essential for muscle building so its presence in muscle cells is crucial for a bodybuilder. Glutamine is also known to contain immunity-boosting properties. It encourages proper digestion and provides relief from indigestion and heartburn symptoms. During an intense workout, your glutamine stores will be quickly used up so it’s important to take before, during, and after your workout. Strive to ingest 5 grams each time you take it (Redemption contains a full 5 gram serving)
4. FILL IN THE GAPS WITH A MULTI VITAMIN
While most of your nutrition will be coming from whole foods, it is important to take a multi-vitamin in order to fill in the gaps. The stress of bodybuilding on the body cannot be overstated. If you are not prepared with the right nutrients then your body will succumb to over training – Be sure to buy a quality multi-vitamin to take with breakfast.
5. MIX YOUR ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are super nutrients that remove harmful waste products from the body. During a bodybuilding regiment, it’s important to take a variety of antioxidants. Free radicals form as a result of the exercise you’ll be performing and they have a way of causing havoc on the body.
6. BETAINE ANHYDROUS, BETA-ALANINE, CITRULLINE MALATE
Getting the most of your training is absolutely key to making gains as fast as possible. These key ingredients have been proven in clinical studies to: increase strength, lean body mass, endurance, recovery, pumps, and much more. All three ingredients & more are included in clinically effective dosages in ALTIUS Pre-Workout.
NATURAL BODYBUILDING TIPS & TRICKS
1. EAT ENOUGH FOOD
Put simply: With the extreme nature of your training, your body desperately needs nutrients for basic processes as well as muscle building and recovery. One option is to eat smaller meals more frequently, eating once every 2 to 3 hours. Another option is to eat 3-4 big meals per day, just ensure that you get enough calories in to gain mass.
2. NEVER MISS A MEAL
As mentioned above, the amount of stress that your body is enduring must be met with adequate nutrition. This means that you cannot afford to miss any meals. If you are feeling hungry at any point throughout the day, this is your body’s way of telling you it needs nutrients for energy and recovery. Case in point: you should never get to this point.
3. AGAIN – GET ENOUGH PROTEIN, CONSUME PROTEIN FREQUENTLY
Just in case the importance of protein was not stressed enough above, here it is again in the third section. In accordance with eating enough calories and eating frequently, make sure that you are consuming enough protein. A general rule of thumb is one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
4. CYCLE BETWEEN HIGH & LOW CARB DAYS
If you want to keep your body guessing and, in turn, keep your metabolic rate up, then you could alternate your days between ingesting high and low amount of carbohydrates. Most athletes tend to have their high carb days during the more intense training days (like leg day), alternating between these two phases helps keep an accelerated metabolic rate.
5. PLAN AHEAD
Hands down, the most important tip on this list. Planning ahead ensures success. Life is often chaotic and unpredictable. Regardless of what happens to you throughout the day, the last thing you should be worrying about is your training program, nutrition plan, and meal program.
Protect your muscle gains by preparing meals for the week ahead of time and storing them in plastic ware. Using a crock-pot to cook 6 pounds of chicken will ensure you have meals set and ready to go. All you have to do is grab it from the fridge. Same with your supplements: Make sure they are pre-packed and ready to go. Buy a vitamin dispenser and fill it with your daily dose of capsule supplements. As for your training program, it goes without saying that you should have at least 8 weeks of exercises planned and written down in a notebook. If you want to guarantee results, you need to get into the habit of planning ahead.
The road to developing a bodybuilding physique, whether that is for the stage or for your own personal accomplishment, is far from easy. Knowing your way around the weight room is important but don’t forget that nutrition is going to make up 70% of the results you see! You need to be as comfortable, if not more so, picking up a skillet in the kitchen as you are picking up a dumbbell in the gym. Attaining the physique you want is going to take the right exercise routine, nutritional meal planner, and supplementation program. Stay dedicated and the glory will be yours.