After nine seasons, MTV's hit show The Real World may be increasingly hard to stomach, but your first bodybuilding diet shouldn't be. In this Real-World Diet plan, we have boiled down advanced bodybuilding diets to their basic elements, making it possible for you to maintain a busy lifestyle and a budget, and still make muscular gains. So, unlike the MTV show, which only pretends to take place in reality, this bodybuilding diet is something you can follow on a daily basis in the real world.
When professional bodybuilders aren't complaining about their contest placings, they're griping about the difficulties of their diets. Their rigorous dieting, taken to extremes, exposes every ridge and nodule in every muscle from their calves to their serrati to their trapeziuses. The goal of a first-time bodybuilding diet should be scaled back: A successful first nutritional plan should allow you to add muscle mass without dramatically increasing your bodyfat. Of course, it's a given that you are already following a consistent and effective training program. Only in tandem with such a workout regimen will the dietary principles outlined here be productive.
In designing this plan, we've taken into account two factors that most bodybuilding diets don't: your time and your money. We know it's unrealistic to expect a first-time dieter to channel loads of cash into supplements and expensive protein drinks. We also understand that many people want to spend minimal time preparing meals, especially if they're trying to maintain a busy real-world schedule.
Nonetheless, we don't want to mislead you into believing that a bodybuilding diet takes no effort. There are two basic tenets of this diet program: You need to increase the number of meals you eat each day to five or six, and you need to increase the number of calories you consume, overall and from protein, each day.
That's all there is to it. If you're willing to eat more food and do so more often, this bodybuilding diet will allow you to put on muscle mass without taking over your life.
EAT MORE QUALITY CALORIES
We've said it before and we'll say it again: No matter how much or how well you train, you can't add muscle mass without the calories and protein to support it. You needn't drastically increase calorie consumption, but you must make a consistent effort to ingest 10-20% more calories on a daily basis. For instance, if you currently consume 2,500 calories, you should strive to take in about 3,000.
Increase your protein consumption and you feed your muscles rather than your fat stores. Emphasize adding foods high in protein, such as eggs and meat, rather than foods that are starchy, such as rice and potatoes. However, these complex carbohydrates help fuel your body for workouts, so don't cut them from your diet. Your goal should be to eat an adequate supply of carbohydrates, plus at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day.
INCREASE MEAL FREQUENCY
Ideally, you should strive to eat six meals every day. Such a plan gives you several advantages in making bodybuilding gains and achieving your goals more easily. First, the inclination is to consume more calories when you eat more often.
Second, and equally important for a bodybuilder, when you eat protein six times a day versus three, you provide your body with a steadier stream of amino acids. In other words, over time you'll see more benefits from eating six 30-gram servings of protein than you will from eating three 60-gram servings. The total protein is the same, but the efficiency of use is improved by taking it in more frequently.
A third advantage is that eating more meals increases your metabolic rate. This helps prevent fat storage of excess calories and facilitates the burning of fat that has already been stored.
A DAY IN THE REAL WORLD
The Real-World Diet consists almost entirely of whole foods; however, you may choose to add a protein drink to the meal plan. The items in this program are easy to prepare. Most of the meals can be fixed ahead of time, and you can take them with you in a small cooler. That way, even if your schedule calls for you to leave home early and be gone for much of the day, you'll be able to provide your body with everything it needs to grow.
A sample menu for one day of the Real-World Diet is included on the bottom of this article. It's not a prescriptive plan; you needn't follow every meal to the letter. Feel free to make appropriate substitutions; that will add variety and make the diet more enjoyable and successful. For instance, if you prefer to eat whole-grain bread instead of oatmeal, that's an acceptable complex-carb substitution. Similarly, lean pork can replace lean beef as an acceptable protein substitution. If you don't have time to fix a good breakfast in the morning, cook some hard-boiled eggs the night before and substitute deli meat for bacon. Whatever you do, don't skimp on breakfast, you need to get the protein and carbs in after a night of fasting. Likewise, don't neglect the post workout meal. It bears repeating: To achieve the gains you want, nutrition is as important as the time you spend in the gym.
REAL WORLD TIPS
Busy lives and tight budgets don't always allow for the ideal food choices listed in the Real-World Diet plan. Here are some additional ideas for eating in the real world without sabotaging your bodybuilding diet.
Make choices that include a high ratio of protein to carbs and fat. Simple meat entrées such as grilled chicken sandwiches or large burgers without sauces and mayonnaise reduce the negative impact of these foods. Try ordering two sandwiches, remove the bun from one and combine the patties to make one double-meat sandwich.
Look for trail mix, granola or candy bars that contain peanuts, which are higher in protein than plain chocolate bars. If you have access to a refrigerated vending machine, choose fruit and low- or nonfat milk. Avoid chips, cookies and sugary sodas.
Often, these places carry boiled eggs, string cheese or bags of nuts and seeds. Most convenience stores also sell low- or nonfat milk, cottage cheese and yogurt.
Order simply prepared meat dishes, with vegetables, plain baked potatoes or rice. Avoid sauces and dishes that consist mostly of starchy carbs, such as pasta.
Even pro bodybuilders cheat. If you think you're going to die if you don't have a cookie, then have a cookie. When cheating, work to limit the number of calories you take in. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking: If I'm going to have a few Oreo cookies, I might as well eat the entire package. Also, keep in mind that if you're a hardgainer, a few extra calories might be beneficial in helping you put on some size.
To save time and money, buy large packages of chicken breasts and cook several at once. Cooked chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for three or four days before it spoils. You can even prepare several sandwiches at the same time to eat over the course of a few days.
A REAL WORLD DIET
- ½ cup oatmeal
- 4-5 scrambled eggs
- 3-4 slices turkey bacon
- 4-6 ounces peanuts, mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, trail mix, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Piece of fruit – apple, banana, orange, peach or raisins
- 6-8 ounces turkey or chicken breast sandwich
- Carrot sticks
- 4-8 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 quark milk or protein drink
- 8-10 ounces fish or lean red meat (steak or hamburger)
- 1 cup rice or medium-sized baked potato
- Mixed vegetables
- Peanut butter, deli meat or low-fat cheese