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A Basic Guide to Nutrition for Bodybuilding Exercise

young man working out bicepsBodybuilders know muscles are made in the kitchen and not in the gym. Without proper nutrition, they’ll never get as big as they want regardless of how much time they spend in the gym ( 2684 ).

The reason why good nutrition is so important is that muscles need the right “raw materials” for them to repair, rebuild and grow larger. Good nutrition starts with two key components: eating the right type of foods at the right time ( 2685 ).

Eating the right foods

A good starting place to build muscle is to eat 1,600 to 2,400 calories for a woman and 2,000 to 3,000 for man. Because height, weight, age and metabolism all affect how your body reacts to food, adjust your calorie intake as necessary ( 2686 ).

As part of your daily caloric intake, be sure to get a good mix of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fats at a starting percentage ratio of 50/20/30, respectively. Like your caloric intake, you can adjust these ratios up or down depending on the results you want verses the results you are getting ( 2688 ).


Let’s start with carbs. There are two types: simple and complex and each serve a purpose in your bodybuilding program. Simple carbs like apples, bananas, grapefruit, grapes and oranges can provide a quick source of energy like the kind you need 30 minutes before working out. Complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, rice and many of the vegetables: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and spinach, break down slower and provide a more constant source of energy that you need to carry you through a workout ( 2690 ).


To repair and build muscle, your body needs what are known as essential amino acids and the only major source of them is protein. Eggs, chicken breast, turkey, lean meat and tuna are some of the best animal sources of protein you can get . 2705

As a rule, you want to eat about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. To judge how much that is, a 6-ounce chicken breast has about 35 grams of protein. So knowing many grams of protein you should be eating according to your weight, you can then judge how many calories you should eat of each of carbs and fats using the ratio mentioned beforehand. 2706


Your body needs some fat to make all its functions work right including the production of testosterone – an important hormone in the building of muscle. Without it, your body can’t metabolize the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E. You also need it to lubricate your joints. 2707

Of the three types of fat: saturated, unsaturated and trans, concentrate on the unsaturated type. Peanut butter, avocados, nuts, seeds are all good sources of healthy unsaturated fat. 2708

Eating at the right time

Instead of eating a normal three meals a day, spread your daily caloric intake over five or six smaller meals. Eating this way provides your body with a steady source of energy throughout the day so that your metabolism can keep operating at peak performance. 2709


Of course, no nutrition program would be complete if it did not include the proper nutrition. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day as a general rule of thumb, however, if you are working out you need to drink even more. Because your body is made up of 65% water, losing even 2% of your bodyweight through sweat can start you down the road to dehydration, so it is imperative you take time to drink water while exercising. 2757

Providing your body with the right nutrients in the right portions at the right time is key to your bodybuilding success. Start at the median amounts listed in this article and adjust as necessary and you will get to your bodybuilding goal. 2762