A great author once said the best laid plans of mice and men so often go awry And it's true. We can plan for anything and everything in life, but there will always be unexpected obstacles that get into our way. The best we can do is hope to have a solid plan in place, and then adapt whenever life throws us a curveball. When it comes to bodybuilding nutrition, however, many lifters simply have no plan at all.
It may seem ludicrous that an athlete would dedicate 5 to 8 hours each week to lifting weights and completing cardio - meticulously planning and executing these tough workouts - while at the same time giving little to no attention to the foods they consume which fuel these grueling workout. You wouldn’t drive a $200,000 sports car and not worry a bit about the gas or oil you put into it. However, you would be surprised at just how many athletes just consume a "normal" diet of fast food, convenient food, incomplete food, and just plain miss meals, because they don't bother putting any thought into their meal planning. It's time for that to change. Let's look at some important keys for designing your own ideal 7 day meal plan!
First off, you should be eating for health. No matter how big your muscles become, or how many pounds you can bench press, none of it matters if you're sick all the time with colds or other illnesses because your immune system is weakened. You should build your diet upon a base foundation of fruits, vegetables, clean protein sources, and healthy fats. Fish, chicken, turkey and beef should be 1/3 of each meal. Choose a heavier carb like pasta, rice or beans for the next third. Wrap things up with 1/3 of your plate coming from natural fruits and vegetables. Pay attention to your health - without it, all the muscles in the world will do you no good at all!
When planning a diet, it is important to always keep mixing things up. This is a good idea for several reasons. First off, your body adapts very quickly to the foods that you feed to it each day. Enzymes are created by the stomach which make use of the foods you eat. The receptors of the body become used to these foods on a regular basis, as well as the amino acid profile that these foods present. Over time, some foods can become less effective to the body, thus facilitating a need to change up the meats, carbs and roughage that we're consuming each day. Next, it is important for the mindset of the lifter. If you have to consume the same 8 foods each day, you're quickly going to tire of broiled chicken breast and broccoli, and you'll be more likely to break your diet. Mix up the foods you're eating, and you'll be more enthusiastic about facing a regimented diet plan each day. Finally, it's more fun! Eating different foods all of the time is a great way to celebrate the amazing variety of foods that are out there for you to try!
You should be taking vitamins and minerals each day to not only help with muscle repair/recover/growth, but also for your long term health needs. The foods and supplements you consume today will affect how your body performs a week, a month, a year, and decades from now. Many elderly people with weak bones regent not taking calcium and other mineral supplements as a youth. Take vitamin C and # for immune system support and a multi-vitamin on a regular basis for overall health and body development.
Water is the most important thing you should be focusing upon each day. You should never be without a water bottle in hand! Water helps with cell function, which provides the assistance you need in training (you sweat a lot!), in recovery, and in general body function. Most people need at least a half gallon of water each day, but athletes tend to use much more. Try bumping up your H2O consumption to 1 gallon each day, or possible 1.5 gallons, in order to keep your body performing and recovering at optimal levels!
If man made it…don't eat it!
That was the advice of one of the healthiest and most vibrant men that the world has ever known. The late, great Jack LaLanne often recommended the following daily meal plan:
Breakfast: fruit, eggs, meat, whole wheat toast .
Lunch: Salad, and meat/fish.
Dinner: Salad, vegetables, meat, and of course, fruit
Eating natural foods has a profound effect upon the body's digestion and performance. Try to choose as many natural foods as possible when planning your diet.
Emergencies & Urges
There are always going to be times when life throws you a scheduling curveball. When that happens, it is important to change up your diet and enjoy a protein shake, protein bard, or fresh fruit, until you are able to return to your regularly scheduled meal plan. Likewise, there will always be nights when you are craving junk food. When those times come, don't break an entire week of dieting. Keep some snack foods on hand which will satisfy your junk food urges without wrecking your physique. A handful of trail mix lets you enjoy healthy fats from peanuts and a few M&Ms, giving you energy to train, without throwing your body out of whack. Small snacks occasionally won't throw you off track - they'll even give your metabolism a little boost!
Evaluation & Adjustments
Each week, you should spend about 15 minutes evaluating your past 7 days of eating. How do you look? How do you feel? Finally, as with any plan, whether it involves work, school, relationships, training, or anything else, you will want to make adjustments to it, based upon the evaluations that you make. If you're gaining too much weight, it's time to cut back the carbs and fats. If you're not making gains, you should bump up the calories a bit. Always work to improve with each week, and the results will continue!