If you want to build a great body, your nutrition plan must be spot on. In this section of our website we are going to provide you with an overview of nutrition basics, it’s what you need to know to help you get started. We will also provide detailed meal plans for you to follow, what foods you should eat, how much, when to eat and what supplements you should take to get the best results. So let’s start by introducing you to some basic principles of nutrition to help you get the most out of your weight training.
There are 3 main types of nutrient groups provided by food – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. To build a quality physique requires you to make consistently good choices to ensure you get the right amount and quality of each of these nutrient groups.
Protein is the key nutrient required for building muscle. Without enough protein in your diet you simply won’t build muscle, no matter how much training you do. Your muscles, and also many other components of your body, like skin, hair, nails, blood, even your bones, are largely made up of protein. Protein consists of complex chains of compounds called amino acids. There are 22 amino acids that make up human protein, and their order and proportion determine the characteristics of each protein. For example, muscle protein contains higher levels of the Branched Chain Amino Acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine than do the proteins that make up hair or nails.
Hard weight training actually damages muscle structure. Your body’s response to this overload is to repair the muscle, but to also make it thicker and stronger to cope with the added stress. Over a period of weeks, months and years regular hard training results in bigger, stronger and better functioning muscles. To constantly build new muscle your body needs substantially more protein than the average diet usually supplies.
So how much protein do you need if you are a hard training athlete? Whether you are trying to gain mass or get lean and muscular, the accepted rule of thumb is between 2.5 – 3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day. For example, if you are an 80kg trainer with an average body fat of 15 – 20%, then you need 80 x 2.5 / 3 = 200 – 240 grams of good quality protein per day. Getting this amount of protein requires careful nutritional planning and the diet programs in this guide are designed to deliver these levels.
What are the best sources of protein? Foods like lean meats, chicken, fish and eggs are excellent sources of protein. They contain all the amino acids, in approximately the right proportions to support human muscle growth. The only downside of all these foods is they can contain significant amounts of fats, including unwanted saturated fats. So eating too much of these protein sources is not always ideal for building muscle and overall good health. Don’t get us wrong, we recommend these protein foods in our diet plans however you need to ensure you aim for the leaner cuts of meat, remove all the skin from your chicken breast, not too many egg yolks, and not use too much oils or fats when cooking your protein foods.
What about protein powders, where do they fit in? At a basic level, the key benefits of a good quality protein formula is that you get a pure high quality concentrated source of protein without the things you don’t want, especially the fat. MAX’S have formulated a highly effective range of proteins that all trainers can use to help reach their goals. For example, each serving of the MAX’S SuperShred contains around 30 grams of high quality protein, but with virtually no carbs or fat. The MAX’S range also includes nutrients that stimulate muscle recovery, muscle growth and fat burning to help maximize your results.
Carbohydrates consist of chemical molecules that are known as sugars, like glucose or sucrose (table sugar), or many sugar molecules joined together into chains that make up starchy foods like potato and rice. These starchy foods are often referred to complex carbs.
From a nutritional perspective there carbohydrate foods that are highly nutritious and support muscle growth, while there are other carb based foods that have very little nutritional value at all and are simply empty calories.
When you are trying to gain mass and strength getting enough good quality carbs is essential. When you are training to get lean and ripped, moderating your carb intake is important but carbs are still a key element in a balanced fat stripping diet.
In most instances, your carbs should be of the complex type, sourced mainly from less processed foods. Less processed carbohydrate foods generally are slower digesting and give you an even and sustained release of energy to keep you energized all day. Foods like oats, brown rice, sweet potato, corn, beans and lentils are good sources of slower digesting carbs and should be the bulk of your carb intake. Fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, string beans, lettuce and capsicum are also important carb foods to include in your diet. They are high in fibre, low in starchy carbs and fat, but high in many types of micronutrients including vitamins, minerals and other plant chemicals that boost health and muscle growth.
Fruit, like vegetables, is another great sources of carbs and micronutrients. Some fruits are relatively high in sugar so we recommend limiting fruit intake to about 2 – 3 pieces per day on a mass gain diet and 1 piece per day on a get lean diet.
How much carb food should you consume each day? Our general guidelines are:
- For a Mass Gain program we recommend about 4 – 5 grams of carbs per kg of body weight per day. For example, if you are an 80kg trainer with an average body fat of 15 – 20%, then you need 80 x 4 – 5 = 320 – 400 grams of good quality carbohydrate per day, which is quite an amount of food.
- If you are training to strip fat and build lean muscle then we recommend around 1 – 2 grams of carbs per kg of body weight (1 gram for strict dieting and faster fat loss, 2 grams for more moderate and sustained loss). For the same 80kg trainer this means around 80 – 160 grams of carbs per day. Our meal plans take care of these numbers so all you have to do is follow the diet.
There are many forms of carbohydrates that you should limit or eliminate from your diet if you want to build a healthy muscular body. As a general rule, the more processed the food, the more you should avoid it. Sugar and all foods that are high in sugar like sweets, syrups, soft drinks and fruit juices should be avoided. Foods made from white flour, or a combination of white flour, sugar and fats like cakes, white bread, biscuits and many forms of snack food or fast food should be avoided. Highly processed carbs are absorbed by your body very quickly, but just as quickly are usually converted to fat and stored around your body in adipose tissue. Quite simply, a diet high in processed carbs will increase your body fat.
There is one exception to this. During a hard workout your body, particularly your trained muscles, become quite depleted in the stored carbs called glycogen that your body uses to produce energy. Immediately after your workout your muscles become hyper sensitive to nutrient uptake and will absorb proteins to repair muscle tissue and carbs to replenish energy store at many times their normal rates. This window of opportunity lasts only about 60 minutes, so we always recommend that hard trainers consume a recovery formula that contains fast acting proteins and fast absorbing simple sugars as soon as possible after their workout to maximize recovery and growth. This can be a good protein and carb formula like MAX’S Supersize, or you can simply add milk to your high protein formula (like MAX’S SuperShred) and eat some fruit like a banana.
Like proteins and carbs, fats are nutrients your body needs to maintain good health, but too much of the wrong type of fats can cause long term health issues including obesity, heart disease and contribute to a host of other medical problems. Fats can exist in a liquid form, like vegetable oils, or a solid form, like butter or the layers of fat you find on red meat. Many foods contain hidden fats, and you may only know how much fat a food contains by reading food labels. For example, many types of meat can contain up to 20% by dry weight of fat. Many cakes, biscuits, sauces, dressings and marinades can be extremely high in fats.
Like carbohydrates, there are some fats that are needed regularly by your body and need to be obtained in your diet. These fats, known as Essential Fats, are contained in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and some vegetable oils like olive oil and flaxseed oil. Some animal fats like fish oils also contain high levels of essential fats, including the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. We need to be consuming a moderate amount of these foods on a daily basis to maintain good health. Essential fats are also a vital component in the structure of cell walls, so the construction of new muscle cells must have a good supply of essential fats.
There are however a range of fats that should be limited or avoided if your goal is to build a great body and maintain good health. Saturated fats, which are the types of fat you find in most animal meat, should be limited wherever possible. This means things like choosing leaner cuts of meat and chicken, trimming all visible fats where possible, removing skin from chicken cuts, and cooking with minimal amounts of oil. Other ways of avoiding the wrong types of fats include avoiding fatty and fast foods, reducing or avoiding processed foods, and looking for hidden fats that many types of foods may contain. The diet programs presented in this guide will provide about the right levels of essential fats to help meet your training and health needs.
This is quite a complex subject. Micronutrients are the myriad of other nutrients your body needs and uses for a wide variety of biochemical and physiological processes. They include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients (plant chemicals), just to name a few. The best way to get adequate levels of micronutrients is by consuming a diet rich in lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Variety is the key. Some bodybuilding diets can be quite restrictive, so we will aim to add variety in these programs to ensure you get a good supply of micronutrients. As added insurance, hard trainers should include a good quality multivitamin & mineral supplement along with a good quality antioxidant formula.
We’ve already mentioned several MAX’S Supplement products but let’s look at supplement in a little more detail and why we recommend them. There are a wide range of bodybuilding and sports supplements available and it can be quite a confusing subject for new trainers. Do you actually need supplements, and if so, which ones? The reality is you can build a good physique if you diligently plan and follow a well-designed diet of highly nutritious foods. But the reality of modern life is that we are all busy and it’s not always easy to get all the nutrients you need to support your hard training, and that’s where supplements can help. There are different types of supplements that target various nutritional and training needs. These include protein formulas to build muscle, formulations to strip fat, supplements to give you energy and focus to train harder, supplements to help you recover faster, and supplements to boost your natural levels of hormones like testosterone and Human Growth Hormone. MAX’S makes a wide range of supplements designed for serious strength athletes and bodybuilders. If your goal is to build a strong muscular body MAX’S Supplements can help.
There are some basic nutrition principals that you should be aware of when putting together your meals plans. These principals apply to both a Mass Gain or Shredding diet plan, with minor variations:
- 6 – 7 meals per day – Spread your daily food intake over 6 – 7 meals for maximum results. Your metabolism will respond much better to regular nutrition by working at a higher rate. You will burn more kilojoules, get leaner, have more energy to train, build more muscle, and generally feel much better. If you only eat a few meals a day your body goes into starvation mode, believing it is not getting regular food and so tries to conserve energy by slowing down your metabolism and limiting your results. This means lower energy, less gains and poorer results.
- Protein serve at each meal – To keep building muscle you need to be in what’s called “Positive Nitrogen Balance”. This simply means you need a constant intake of protein, nitrogen being a key constituent of protein, to build maximum muscle. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a quality protein source in each of your daily 6 – 7 meals.
- Do not skip breakfast – Nutritionists often refer to this as the most important meal of the day, and for building muscle and getting in top shape, breakfast is very important. This is because in the morning most people have not have eaten for 8 hours or more, so the body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will be running slowly. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism. Quality protein and carbs with relatively low fats is the perfect way to start your day.
- Meal preparation – You need to plan out your daily and weekly meal plan, then prepare your food in advance. In many cases this means buying all your ingredients for your meals for the next several days, then preparing your meals in advance so that you can stick to your eating schedule. Cook your meals for the next few days, put them in plastic containers, then refrigerate or freeze them. Our meal plan will give you a good range of easy to prepare meals.
- Drink plenty of water – Water plays a crucial role in every part of your metabolism. You need it to build muscle, burn fat, produce energy, plus a myriad of other physiological processes. For hard trainers you need 2 – 3 liters per day is a minimum requirement.
- Post workout nutrition – Perhaps the most important nutritional time of your day. Fast acting protein and fast acting carbs straight after your workout will really supercharge your recovery. Mix your favorite MAX’S shake in milk and perhaps eat a banana or two!
- Vegetables are essential – While protein is a key nutrient for building muscle mass, plenty of fresh vegetables are essential. Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and will help keep your body healthy and in optimum shape during rigours training and dieting. Try to include several servings of fresh vegetable in at least three of your daily meals.
- Carbs, Yes or No – Many trainers often view carbs as taboo. What is the truth? It depends on your goals. If you are trying to build size and muscle mass, carbs are your friend. Good quality ‘clean’ carbs like wholegrain cereals, oats, brown rice and sweet potato are an essential part of any mass gaining diet. If your goal is to strip fat, moderating carbs is important. Although, some carbs are always required to help you burn fat and keep your metabolism functioning properly.
As we’ve already discussed, before you commit to a training plan you should have a goal or an image of what you would like to look like, feel like or perhaps a weight you would like to be. Most trainers have goals like build up, build muscle, strip body fat, get a six pack. Generally these objectives can be broken down to two basic goals:
- Mass Gain
- Get Lean and Muscular
We have put together a diet plan to support both of these goals.
This is typically the goal of the younger thinner trainer or someone with a metabolism and body type that finds it hard to gain weight and build muscle. The goal here is not to add fat, but to add solid quality muscular weight. However, your goal here is not to get lean and ripped because it’s actually very hard to build significant muscular size if you are dieting to get ripped. So maintaining a moderate level of body fat is fine during this “building up” phase of your training. When you have built some decent muscle you can then think about changing your diet to strip some fat and reveal your new muscularity.
This diet plan has an emphasis on quality proteins, clean unprocessed carbohydrates and the right amounts of good fats. It is designed to help you steadily build muscle and gain size. Sticking to a well planned nutrition program and consistent hard training are the keys to success. However you need to understand that no one can continue to gain size and muscle indefinitely. There will be a natural limit beyond which it becomes very hard to keep building muscle. But the good news is that most people can add a significant amount of muscle and totally transform their body before they reach this limit.
When you are training to gain mass and strength you need to eat quite a lot of good quality food. Many trainers find it hard to consume the amount of kilojoules they need to force their body to grow. If you follow this program and find you are not gaining weight and size you will need to further increase your kilojoule intake. The best way to do this is to increase the portion size of each meal a little until you start gaining. Initially you may feel full all the time and find it hard to face up to each meal, but your system will soon get used to the extra food as your metabolism adapts.
Finally, to get the very best results you need to stick with this nutrition plan faithfully. Use the recommended protein formulas and supplements at the recommended times. Prepare your meals in advance, eat the correct quantities, don’t skip meals and don’t cheat. It’s as simple as that.
Get Lean and Muscular
Getting lean and muscular is typically the goal of trainers who are carrying higher than desirable level of body fat. In some cases this can be a lot, maybe 30kgs or more over their ideal weight, or perhaps you may be a more moderate amount or 5 – 10kgs above your goal weight. Your aim should be to build or maintain muscle while stripping fat. In our experience the type of food you eat, the amount you eat and when you eat are very important in helping to strip body fat while you build or maintain muscle.
Many trainers think that you need to do lots of cardio to burn off fat. However sports science tells us that a combination of hard weight training and regular cardio is the best way to stimulate your metabolism and burn maximum fat while building lean muscle. It is true that you lose weight by dieting alone, but this will not give you that lean muscular look. Sure, cardio will help you to look thinner, but dieting without weight training also results in muscle loss, so you won’t get that muscular ripped look that you see on top class physiques. The key is combining this nutrition plan with our training plans for a great result. Whatever the amount of body fat you want to lose, this nutrition program will help you sustain steady fat loss while maintaining and building muscle.
How much fat can you expect to lose if you follow this program? Depending on your training intensity and food intake, most trainers could expect to lose between 0.5 – 1.0 kg per week.