Bodybuilding Diets: Eating for Muscle for Any Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy diet is tough at the best of times. No matter what eating style you follow, we all run into similar pitfalls: eating too much of one food and not enough of another, falling back on easy, quick meals that are calorie heavy and nutrition light, and missing out on important micronutrients our body’s need to function at their best. Even the most diligent slip into these habits from time to time.

When you’re eating towards a specific goal, it gets even harder. Most of us are familiar with the struggles of modifying our habits to lose weight – but have you ever struggled to gain weight?

While adding on extra pounds in body fat is simple enough, it’s tough to pack on lean muscle without adding extra fat. Here, we’ll discuss how to build a bodybuilding diet to pack on lean mass without the padding for a variety of different eating styles. Once you learn the basics for your lifestyle, you’ll start seeing the results you’re looking for.

Keto Diet for Bodybuilding

The keto diet is an ultra-low carb, high fat diet that has become very popular among regular Joe’s and athletes alike. For many, the idea of eating a high-fat diet to lose weight is highly suspect – but add the fact that protein intake won’t significantly increase to create a keto bodybuilding diet, and most people will think its bananas.

On a standard American diet (carb heavy), the basic breakdown of macronutrients (macros) to build muscle is 30% protein, 50% carbs, and 20% fats. As most people are probably familiar, protein plays a major part in supplying the amino acids needed to build new muscle. Carbs are also the preferred source of energy for our bodies, which is why there is such a large focus on them in the standard bodybuilding breakdown. On the keto diet, however, fats, or ketones, become the major source of energy.

To build muscle on the ketogenic diet, keep your macro ratios roughly the same, but add more calories. For example, if you’re currently eating 2,500 calories per day, split into 10% carbs, 20% protein and 70% fat, bump your calorie intake up to 3,000 calories, but split into the same percentages. You can also consider just adding more fat to your diet to up your calorie intake.

Why don’t you increase your protein if you’re trying to build muscle? Simply, too much protein on the ketogenic diet can kick your body out of ketosis, the same as if you had too many carbs. While this may seem counterintuitive, many athletes have successfully switched over to the keto diet and continued to build muscle. Another great thing about the keto diet is never being deficient in dietary fats, which can be a common problem. Low fat-intake can lead to lower testosterone production, which is a key hormone in muscle building. To give your body some extra support, try pairing your regular workout routine with a testosterone support supplement like HexoFire Labs Delta Prime.

Bodybuilding Diet for Women

For decades, most women have stayed away from the weight room for fear of developing monster muscles. However, to get the huge and bulky physique of a champion bodybuilder takes a lot of work and dedication, and it’s becoming more common knowledge that to get that desirable and feminine “toned” look, you have to life heavy. So, what should women eat to build muscle? The same diet as men.

To really build muscle, women should follow the same macro split as a male bodybuilder would: 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 15-20% fat. The only real difference is that women will generally need to consume less calories than men.

Just like in the keto diet mentioned above, women should also aim to eat more calories than their regular maintenance intake to give the body the energy and tools it needs to repair and build muscle. Start with an extra 250-500 calories per day. Monitor the changes in your body composition, and if you’re gaining muscles mass and minimal fat mass, you’re in the sweet spot. Adjust your calories as your body composition changes – if you’re gaining fat but not muscle, reduce your calories. You can also try adjusting your macros increasing your protein and fats and reducing your carbs.

Vegetarian Bodybuilding Diet

The two toughest things about building muscle on a vegetarian diet are getting enough protein and getting enough calories in general. However, if you track your macros, you can absolutely build major muscle as a vegetarian.

Depending on the type of vegetarian, there are many meatless protein sources available. If allowed, eggs are one of the highest quality sources of protein you can get and should be a staple in your muscle building diet. Other great vegetarian sources of protein include soy, quinoa, chickpeas, legumes, lentils, and dark, leafy greens.

You can also look to supplements to help meet your protein needs. Protein powders are a great way to sneak in some extra protein between meals, or to top up your macro requirements at the end of the day. For lacto-vegetarians, whey and casein protein are great options. However, you can also use hemp, soy, rice or pea protein as well. Just remember that plant-based proteins are usually note complete proteins, and may need to be supplemented to meet all your protein needs.

Vegan Bodybuilding Diet

Vegan bodybuilders face the same challenges as vegetarians but are even more restricted. But, again, it is entirely possible to build muscle while following a vegan diet if you pay attention to your macros.

Vegans will find protein supplements especially helpful. The best protein powder for vegans looking to build muscle is pea protein. Studies have shown that pea protein is as effective at promoting muscle growth as whey and is rich in branched-chain amino acids. Mixed plant proteins are also a good option, as using different sources helps to create a complete essential amino acid profile.

Whatever is your eating style, the principles of creating a bodybuilding diet will remain unchanged: eat enough calories to provide the energy and nutrition your body needs to rebuild and grow. This means finding and tracking your macros and adjusting and tweaking them to work for your individual body. While keto dieters may need to more closely monitor their protein intake to ensure they don’t consume too much, women, vegetarians, and vegans need to work hard to ensure they get enough to meet their needs. With this information in mind, you can start building your own plan around your lifestyle and goals.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Bodybuilding Diets: Eating for Muscle for Any Lifestyle," in Medicalopedia, September 28, 2018, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/6912/bodybuilding-diets-eating-for-muscle-for-any-lifestyle/].