Bodybuilding Diet 101 : A High Protein Diet
How much protein do you really need on a bodybuilding diet? We all know that protein is crucial when you’re building muscle, adding mass or cutting body fat.But how much protein do you really need, and how much should you get from protein supplements?
First you need to crunch some numbers.
You might have already calculated your caloric intake and your macro split for your current goals. Latest research suggests that bodybuilders, gym-goers and strength athletes need to get in between 2g and 3g of protein per kilogram of body weight in their diet per day.
Then there’s the question of how often to eat. Whilst some people like to use intermittent fasting or carb-backloading, the traditional 5 or 6 small meals approach is still best bodybuilding diet option. It allows optimal nutrient turnover and keeps the body anticipating a steady supply of protein, amino acids and essential nutrients. It’s also a lot easier on the digestion, particularly if your overall caloric intake needs to be high. A good approach is eating every 2.5 to 3 hours, which usually leads to around 6 meals, sometimes with an additional post-workout protein shake on training days.
Let’s use a fictional guy for our calculations. He weighs a lean 90kgs, he trains 4 to 5 times per week and lifts heavy. He follows a pretty traditional body part split and does a little cardio just to keep on top of body fat gain. He eats pretty well, although he’s not dieting for anything. Our guy needs to be getting 180g-270g of the macronutrient protein into his daily diet. How can he achieve this with food, supplements and protein powders?
Here’s a look at his daily diet:
Meal 1 (7:30am) Whey shake in water before leaving the house to travel to work (30g protein)
Meal 2 (9am) Chicken breast and rice (35g protein)
Meal 3 (12:00pm) Tin of tuna with salad veggies, nuts and essential fats (30g protein)
Meal 4 (2:30pm) Chicken breast and potato (35g protein)
Meal 5 (before gym at 5:30pm) Whey protein shake with pre-workout supplements (30g protein)
Train – including an intra-workout drink with BCAAs (20g protein)
Post-workout (8pm) Whey isolate in water on the way home from gym (40g protein)
Meal 6 9:30pm Steak, green veggies, jacket potato (35g protein)
Following this bodybuilding diet style, our guy is getting 255g protein from his meals, whey protein shakes, pre-workout shake, intra-workout BCAA performance drink and post-workout whey isolate. He’ll be getting incidental amounts of protein from the veggies, nuts and other whole food ingredients too, but the main hit of protein is accounted for here. The protein is spaced out evenly during the day, drip-feeding aminos to his muscles, liver and brain during the day. He’s prioritised fast protein (whey isolate) after training and has a fattier cut of meat (steak) before bed so the dietary fats will slow down the absorption of protein as he sleeps. Perfect for fuelling, repairing and building his 90kgs lean physique.
How much protein do you need, and how do you split it between real food meals and protein shakes?