A bodybuilder is advised to eat 6-8 meals a day (3-4 of these being main meals, and the rest snacks); to ensure you continually keep all the nutrients you need to build muscle. Monitoring your body weight is hugely important and nutrition is one of the most important factors for this. One of the strongest pieces of advice given is to drink or eat 60 to 90 minutes after excising.
But what is the best thing to eat?
Below is a table, just to give you a rough idea of how many calories you should be eating for your body weight while you are bodybuilding, and how you should distribute your calories.
The primary concern for bodybuilders, and in particular those that follow the vegan diet, is protein. It’s suggested that bodybuilders need to ensure they get one gram (one and a half for vegans) of protein per pound of body weight, so the larger you get, the more you’ll need. Protein is made up of amino acids, which absolutely essential to building muscle. Without these amino acids, it’s impossible to grow, repair and maintain muscle tissue. On top of that, it also helps maintain our hormones, enzymes and many other body tissues.
The World Health Organization has established that the minimum amount of protein for human adults is approximately 5% of the daily intake, but for bodybuilders, this needs to be much higher. In fact, as the following diagram displays, protein should take up approximately 30% of your calories (with fat being 30% and carbohydrates being 40%).
For meat eaters, it’s easy to know where to gain protein from; meat and fish contain a lot of it, but it’s more challenging for vegans to find, which is why the ‘Protein Triangle’ has been created. It labels the three main protein sources for plant-based dieters, and it’s recommended to eat 2 of these per meal.
Another great source of protein for vegans is Textured Vegetable Protein (also known as TVP and TSP) which can be found in the form of soy meat or soya chunks. The protein content within this meat substitute is equal to that of meat.
This was created by the Archer Daniels Midlands food processing company in the 1960’s and generally contains soy flour, cotton seeds, wheat and oats. It was designed to give vegans the opportunity to eat traditionally meat-based dishes.