Bodybuilding & Protein Meal Frequency

One thing that makes bodybuilding diets different from most, is the need for small frequent meals that contain significant protein throughout the day.

Why do Bodybuilders eat so many meals a day?

Bodybuilders during their bulking phase require a lot of calories. As a result, it is nearly impossible to get them all in the traditional 3 meals. You need a large calorie surplus to allow for muscle gains and to prevent overtraining.

Even if you are able to eat for example, 3000 calories in 3 meals, your body won't be able to digest it as well as if you had it in 5 or 6 smaller meals.

Another major reason behind the meal frequency is to have a steady stream of protein. By having frequent small high protein meals throughout the day, it will insure amino acids concentrations in the bloodstream throughout the day. Without amino acids in the bloodstream they body may break down muscle in the body to get it's amino acid requirements.

Having a steady supply of amino acids in the bloodstream becomes even more important during cutting phases. Calorie restriction puts your body in a very catabolic (muscle wasting) state. One study done on people during weight loss supports this notion. The ones who ate frequent protein meals, had more lean muscle preservation over those who had less frequent protein meals. This was despite the fact, that all had the same overall total protein calories a day.

How many meals a day should bodybuilders eat?

That would depend on your calorie requirements and how serious of a lifestyle bodybuilding is for you. Some bodybuilders aren't able to have as many meals as they require, due to career and personal responsibilities. 5-6 meals should give good results. Professional or very serious bodybuilders often meals even more frequently, some up to 10.

How much protein is digestable in one meal?

That would depend on the individual's genetics. In general, 30 to 50 grams is the most the average person can digest adequately in one meal.

Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic diets are famous low carbohydrate diets amongst bodybuilders. It is a powerful fat loss diet recommended especially for endormorphs(bodytype that naturally stores lots of fat). It works on some of the basic physiological premises that Atkins diet was founded on.

How does it work?

The Keto diet is very low in carbohydrates, and in by doing so it puts you in a deprived glycogen state. In this state you will enter ketosis, which is burning fats for energy. So instead of having lots of carbs in your bodybuilding diet you will increase your fat intake.

Bodybuilders usually do the specialized keto diet TKD (Targeted Keto Diet) or CKD (Cyclic Keto Diet), that allows for carb loading.

Carbs give you energy and are a cheap source of energy for the body. Without carbs in the diet, the body will break down protein and fat instead which take more energy to convert. The brain requires glucose, so the lack of instant carbs will force the body to break down the protein to convert to glucose for the brain.

What are the Disadvantages to Keto diet?

Keto diets increase lethargy (tiredness) in the beginning. The body has to go through a metabolic shift and get used to using fat and protein as it's main source of fuel. Once it gets used to it you will have more energy long term then on other diets.

The diet is harder to stick to, with the lack of carbs. With more fat in your diet, you will have to be more careful of what kind of fats you have in your diet. It will also be harder to get vitamins and nutrients with a more restrictive diet.

Long term keto diets have a negative impact on insulin sensitivity and testosterone.

Advantages to Keto Diet

Very effective fat loss diet.

More energy long term.

Long term once your body has adjusted, you will have decreased hunger. The fatty meals will leave your stomach full for longer than non-fatty meals seen in traditional bodybuilding diets. This means your less likely to cheat on a meal and throw your whole diet out the window in an instant.

Carbohydrate Cycling Guide

Carbohydrate cycling is a powerful diet technique for those who want to lower their body fat % and become really ripped. It is very popular and effective in bodybuilding cycles. As the name implies, you "cycle" carbohydrates. Carbohydrate cycling keeps your body guessing and as a result, from hitting a fat loss plateau.

The downside to this diet is it is psychologically tough worrying about how much carbs you are allowed to eat and with the amounts constantly changing. Nothing ever effective is easy though right? I don't think this diet in my opinion is the best route for fat loss for naturally skinny ectomorphs.

There is many variations and tweaks you will do to fit your own physiology, but the basic common denomiator to the diet is 3 types of carb days; High Carb, Low Carb, and No Carb Days.

Protein and fat intake should be similiar to your traditional bodybuilding diet. You will try to get 20 to 50 grams of protein for all 5 to 7 meals in the day.

High Carb Day:
Everyone treats this one different. My motto is if you are going to do it, do it right. Cheat a little bit and have that big dessert you been craving. Now you are not to turn into a total pig and glutton yourself into everything in sight. But this should be a day with some loose diet restrictions. Make sure you eat your protein and fat sources first in your diet, so you are more likely to be full and hence eat less carbs.

Low Carb day:
This should be probably around 50% to 67% of your normal carbohydrates of your regular bodybuilder diet you would use to maintain your weight. You may have to tweak it a little, depending on your physiology and appetite, but I would be careful about going above 67%.

No Carb Day:
This is exactly what it says, absolutely no carbs on this day. This is one of the hardest days. You will be fighting slight lethargy and will be craving those carbs. You can help fight this by filling up on really solid protein sources, good fats, and drinking plenty of water


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