As most of you probably already know, resistance exercise has a profound effect on protein metabolism and muscle growth. Basically, lift hard, grow big.

But while you most likely have your workout routine down, how’s that meal plan coming along? While you can get fairly far with exercise and supplementation alone, your physique is truly built in the kitchen.

So, what is the best diet for gaining impressive muscle? Here, we provide the ultimate guide to creating the perfect muscle building meal plan. With this muscle mass meal plan, your bodybuilding needs will be met.

Nutrition Education

In order to develop a solid muscle mass meal plan, you need to have proper training in nutrition. Knowing how to navigate the kitchen, nutrition labels, and how your body works with specific nutrients plays a pivotal role in your bodybuilding.

There should be a few givens with your muscle building meal plan. Facets like “don’t pig out on junk food” and “you get out what you put in” are tenents that blanket all diets. What matters is that you get proper nutrition consistently.

Research via YouTube, take a nutrition class, and learn from your family and friends the benefits of certain foods and drinks.

There’s a bunch of information out there regarding diet, some good, most bad. Your job is to wade through the bogus data and come out with a decent grasp of the science behind the human body and its response to what it consumes.

Training Day Meals

Time to get into the nitty-gritty.

Your meal plan for bodybuilding is broken down into two sections: Training days and non-training days.

Whether you’re lifting that day or not will determine how much food you’re going to consume, as well as what kinds of food.

As a general rule, on the days where you have an intense workout, you’ll need more carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores.

They enhance your lifting performance, plus they’re protein-sparing, which means it saves your muscle from being broken down.

These days will also be higher in calories compared to non-training days. To have a carb-fueled workout combined with enough protein to aid in synthesis, you want to get a decent amount of both on training days.

A simple way to calculate this is by multiplying your bodyweight by 17-20.

For example, if your bodyweight is 180, getting between 3,060 and 3,600 calories on a workout day is ideal.

The breakdown of macronutrients are:

  • Protein = bodyweight x .85 (in grams)
  • Fats = 25-30%
  • Carbs = the rest

Truth is, you don’t need as much protein as you think. Instead of going a gram per pound of bodyweight, a proper nutrition plan for bodybuilders needs .85 grams.

For our 180-pound example, you’d be taking in 153g of protein, 85-120g of fat, and 342-550g of carbs. While this seems like an insane amount of carbohydrates, keep in mind you’re a 180-pound bodybuilder.

You need the quick energy for your intense workouts; make sure the majority of your carb intake surrounds your lift.

Non-Training Day Meals

If you followed the training day plan for each day of the week, spoiler alert! You’d get fat. The number of calories you’d be ingesting would be way too much.

So we go into a sort of “damage control” for off days. This means eating at a slight deficit to reduce the total weekly calories. Therefore, you would eat at about your bodyweight times 13.

Our 180-pound person will be eating 2,520 calories these days, a far cry from the 3,000+ calorie training days. The majority of the change in calories will come from a plummet in carbohydrates, as you’ll see in this breakdown:

  • Protein = bodyweight x .85 (in grams)
  • Fat = 30%
  • Carbs = the rest

A few things to note here.

One, your protein remains the same. On a lower-calorie day, this will help keep you full.

Two, your fat would be at the top of the threshold, 30%. This is for recovery purposes. Healthy fats keep your muscles, joints, and ligaments well-oiled and help with overall maintenance of your body.

For our 180-pound bodybuilder, this comes out to 153g of protein again, 84g of fat, and 288g of carbs. This is still a fair amount of carbohydrates, so you won’t feel depleted. You will get a solid deficit in without feeling like you’re starving yourself.

Foods for Your Diet

Using a calorie calculator will help with the measurements of your meal portions. As for macronutrient sources, you want healthy sources to keep your body in peak physical condition.

Proteins should include:

  • Low-fat beef
  • Chicken and turkey breast
  • Lean white fish
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • High-quality protein powder

Carbohydrates are tough. Other than staying away from most processed foods, good carbs are foods like:

  • Wholegrain rice or quinoa
  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Vegetables (cruciferous, leafy, or other)

Vegetables are the most important for micronutrient purposes.

Fats are crucial too. You want healthy Omega-3s and minimal saturated fat. Here are the best sources of fat:

  • Nuts or nut butter
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil (sparingly) or macadamia oil for cooking
  • Fish
  • Eggs

If you make the majority of your meals with these foods, you’re well on your way to crazy strength and muscle gains.

How to Progress

Of course, this is simply an estimate. You’ll have to tweak your muscle building meal plan once you’re in the thick of things. Give it two weeks and track your weight and lifts; if you’re gaining too much weight or not increasing your lifts, adjust accordingly.

An unbelievably easy way to get exactly what you need out of your meal plan is to use a meal prep delivery service. Companies like Muscle Up Meals lets you order your meals a-la-carte and have the food delivered to your door. All you do is heat up the grub and devour.

This is a great strategy to use if you’re a busy bodybuilder or business professional. Your meals are created by you, for you, and the hard work is done by somebody else.

When you reach a new milestone weight (say from 180 to 190), recalculate your base calories and macronutrients. Then go through your first two weeks and adjust. This is also a good exercise to do when your lifts stall or your performance stagnates in the gym.

Use This Muscle Building Meal Plan to Get Some Serious Gains

If you were looking for a muscle building meal plan for massive results, increased muscle, and an impressive physique, look no further.

Use these guidelines to structure your daily food and water intake. When you implement your meal plan for bodybuilding purposes, you’ll look good, feel good, and perform at your optimal level.

If you want to learn more about nutrition, here’s why you should consider taking a nutrition class.

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How to Trick Your Brain into Making Better Decisions (Backed By Scientific Studies)

What are some tools to use for effective decision making? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing site where questions are answered by people with unique insights. This answer was shared by Charles Duhigg, staff writer for the New York Times and author of Smarter Faster Better, on Quora:

Here is what scientific studies say will help you make better decisions:

Thinking through various, contradictory possibilities, and then trying to force yourself to figure out which ones are more or less likely, and why. (This is known as probabilistic thinking, and studies show that it significantly increases the quality of people’s decision making.)

Say, for instance, that you are trying to decide whether your group of rebels should attack the Death Star. Seems like an easy decision, right?

After all, the Death Star is filled with jerks, and it has a big glaring weakness (that apparently no architect considered when designing the ship): one well placed shot can blow up the entire thing.

If you are some hillbilly from Tatooine, you’ll charge off into space. You’ll think about this decision in binary terms (“The Empire=bad. The rebels=good. What can go wrong?”)

But, if you are practiced at decision making, you’ll probably do something a bit differently: you’ll sit down with Adm. Ackbar, and you’ll try to envision the dozens of different outcomes that are possible. (“We could get defeated before we make it to the ship. We could make it to the ship and not have enough X-wings.

We could have enough X-wings but then miss the shot. We could make the shot but our intel could be wrong. We could have good intel and make the shot and the Death Star blows up, but our reward is Jar Jar Binks…” You get the point.)

Now, here’s the thing: you aren’t going to be very precise at assigning probabilities to all those possibilities. (“What are the odds that our intel is bad?”) But forcing yourself to think through all the possibilities and then simply TRYING to assign odds will be really helpful in revealing what you do and don’t know.

So, maybe you are pretty certain that your intel is good, and maybe you are pretty certain that, if they can get close to the Death Star, your pilots will hit the target (because, after all, you’ve got the force on your side), but you aren’t particularly certain that you have enough X-wings to make sure that you’ll get close to the Death Star.

Now you know which parts of your plan are weakest, you know what you need to learn more about and what problems you need to solve to increase the odds of success.

Our brains, left to their own devices, prefer to think about choices in binary terms. (And, from an evolutionary standpoint, this is really efficient.)

But to make better decisions, we have to force ourselves to think probabilistically – AND THEN WE NEED TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT PROBABILISTIC THINKING TENDS TO REVEAL HOW MUCH WE DON’T KNOW.

It is scary to confront uncertainty. It can make you crazy and anxious. That’s why it is so much easier to look at choices as binary options (“I’ll either succeed or fail”) or deterministic outcomes (“I ended up married to her because she was my soulmate.”)

But if you genuinely want to make better decisions, you have to fight that instinct, and make yourself think about multiple possibilities – both the good and the bad – and be really honest with yourself about what you do and don’t know (and what is knowable and unknowable.)

And then you have to take a leap, and make a decision, and see it as  an experiment that gives you data, rather than a success or failure that you should congratulate yourself on/beat yourself up about.

Because, unfortunately, the force doesn’t really exist. But probabilities do.

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