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Bodybuilding: how to adapt your diet to achieve your goals?

In bodybuilding, diet is an inseparable element from training. Having good reflexes in the gym and on the plate go hand in hand. Dietary needs are not the same during periods of mass gain or during periods of cutting. Embarking on a diet without having some basic knowledge of nutrition is like playing a sorcerer's apprentice. A poor diet can have harmful consequences on your health. Certain rules must therefore be respected in order to achieve your objective while remaining in good health. Calorie calculation, meal composition, we tell you everything in this article.


Bodybuilding and nutrition MX3


Do you know how to calculate your daily calorie needs?


Calculation of basic metabolism


Basal metabolism is the number of calories your body needs per day at rest. This number of calories corresponds to your body's energy needs. This is an estimate based on age, gender, height and weight. It is interesting to be able to determine your basic metabolism because this figure will then allow you to estimate your caloric needs based on your level of physical activity. There are several methods for calculating basal metabolism. Here is the most used.


Basal metabolism calculation formula by Harris and Benedict recalculated by Roza and Shizgal


Calculation method for men

13.707 x Weight (in kg) + 492.3 x Height (in m) - 6.673 x Age (years) + 77.607 Example for a 25 year old man weighing 70 kg and measuring 1.80m: 13.707 x 70 + 492.3 x 1.8 - 6.673 x 25 + 77.607 = approximately 1756 kcal


Calculation method for women

9.74 x Weight (in kg) + 172.9 x Height (in m) - 4.737 x Age (years) + 667.051 Example for a 28 year old woman weighing 60 kg and measuring 1.70m: 9.74 x 60 + 172.9 x 1.7 - 4.737 x 28 + 667.051 = approximately 1412 kcal



After calculating your basal metabolism (BMR), you now know how many calories your body consumes per day at rest. In order to determine the number of calories it consumes based on your sporting activity, simply apply a multiplier coefficient depending on the frequency and intensity of your training. Moderate physical activity (1 to 2 times per week) MB x 1.375 Active physical activity (training 3 to 5 times per week) MB x 1.55 Very active physical activity (daily training) MB x 1.725 Very intense physical activity (daily training + physical professional activity) MB x 1.9 The result obtained remains, of course, an estimate, everyone's metabolism being different and unique. This calculation only serves as a basis, it can then be adjusted according to each individual, as we will see now.


Caloric maintenance


Caloric maintenance corresponds to the number of calories your body needs to cover your daily energy needs without weight loss or gain. Above we saw a way to estimate caloric maintenance. If your usual diet neither causes you to gain nor lose weight, you can adjust the number of calories obtained by this calculation by simply counting the calories ingested for each of your food intakes. If you are a beginner in bodybuilding, you can use the calculation above to start your calorie maintenance diet and then adjust your number of calories if you notice weight gain or loss. Knowing your caloric maintenance is essential because it is from this figure that you can calculate your needs to start gaining weight or losing weight. There are many ways to calculate your calorie intake:


  • Referring to the product label.
  • By downloading a specialized mobile application.
  • Referring to the Ciqual food table.
  • When you calculate your calorie intake and prepare your menus accordingly, be careful to take into account your diet but also the different food supplements that you can take during the day (whey, gainer, etc.).

How to achieve healthy weight gain through your diet?


The principle of mass gain is simple: have a caloric intake greater than your daily energy needs. But it becomes more complex when it comes to maintaining a healthy and, above all, balanced diet so as not to gain too much fat and not compromise your health.


Start gradually


When you start gaining weight, you may be tempted to suddenly and significantly increase your caloric intake in the hope of obtaining results more quickly. But this could have the opposite effect to that expected. If weight gain would be rapid initially, this would likely result in significant fat gain and an equally rapid cessation of progression. It is advisable to start by increasing caloric intake by 10-20% (i.e. 200/300 additional kcal per day). If we see no change after 2 weeks, we can then increase the number of calories again. Same thing once mass gain has started, the number of calories will need to be revised upwards as soon as we no longer notice weight gain within a reasonable time (no need to weigh yourself every day).


Healthy products and a balanced diet


Eating more calories doesn't mean eating anything. The goal is to gain muscle and not fat. It is therefore very important to know how to compose your meals and snacks and to know how to respect the right proportion of the 3 essential macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Here is what is recommended during mass gain: Proteins: 2-2.5g / kg of body weight (1g of proteins = 4kcal) Lipids: 1-1.5g / kg of body weight (1g of lipids = 9kcal) Carbohydrates: to complete the targeted caloric intake (1g of carbohydrates = 4kcal) Another essential point: the quality of the food. It is important to choose foods that are as natural and have undergone as little processing as possible. These are those which will provide the most qualitative nutritional contribution. Industrial products such as prepared meals, etc., should be avoided, they provide a lot of calories but have a very low nutritional load (empty calories).


The weight gainer, is it useful?


The use of a gainer is recommended in two cases. If you have what we call an “ectomorph” or “hard gainer” profile, that is to say that you have a lot of trouble gaining weight (and therefore muscle), even when eating a lot, the use of A gainer will undoubtedly be essential. The weight gainer is also interesting if you don't have the possibility of having as many meals as necessary, up to 5-6 during the mass gain period!


Adapted training


Even though this may seem logical, it is important to point out that all these nutritional advice are, of course, accompanied by appropriate training. If the intensity level of the training is not sufficient, there is a risk of gaining fat instead of gaining muscle. During the period of mass gain, we recommend that you train 3-4 times a week in a split routine. This will allow you to work on each muscle group during the week.


How to adapt your diet during dry periods?


You will probably have already understood that the principle of eating during dry periods is the opposite of that during periods of mass gain. It's about having a calorie intake lower than your needs in order to lose fat. The goal is to lose as little muscle mass as possible.


Fatal mistake: eliminating all fats from your diet


Wanting to completely eliminate lipids from your diet during dry periods is a mistake often made. No longer consuming fats in order to eliminate body fat may seem logical but it will not have the desired effect. Indeed, lipids play several crucial roles:


  • Delivery of certain proteins and hormones
  • Transport of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Participation in the constitution of cell membranes

It is therefore essential to maintain a portion of lipids in your daily diet, even during dry periods, at the risk of developing certain deficiencies and a metabolic slowdown, which will slow down your progress. It is not recommended to go below 15-20% of caloric intake in the form of fat. Regarding proteins, it is also advisable to maintain approximately the same intake as during periods of caloric maintenance. You will have understood, the adjustment of your diet therefore lies in your carbohydrate intake!


And what about food supplements in all this?


Dietary restrictions during dry periods can be sources of deficiencies or lack of energy in daily life and during training. Appropriate supplementation, in vitamins for example, may therefore be necessary depending on individual dietary intake and needs. Using a fat burner can also reinforce the action of your diet. Certain active ingredients have the property of helping to reduce the accumulation of fat. Often rich in stimulating active ingredients (caffeine, green tea, guarana, etc.), fat burners can also give you a boost of energy.

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