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Bodybuilding diet: Four simple rules to apply

Bodybuilding diet: Four simple rules to apply

Ingredients. 01.05.2019

When it comes to muscle growth, diet certainly plays a crucial role. In this article you will find information relating to how best achieve your bodybuilding goals.

Calculating your energy expenditure.

For any gain in muscle mass, it is important to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), that is to say the number of calories your body requires in order to work as it should.

Your daily calorie requirement varies depending on your body type and the amount of physical activity you participate in.

This energy expenditure is calculated through to two parameters: the basal metabolism and physical activity.

Basal metabolism (BM) is the energy consumed by the body when performing vital functions such as breathing, thinking and just simply making the heart beat.

HARRIS-BENEDICT FORMULA.  Man: MB = 13.707xWeight (kg) + 492.3xSize (m) – 6.673 x age (year) + 77.607 Woman: MB = 9.740xWeight (kg) + 172.9xSize (m) – 4.737x Age (year) + 667.051

The physical activity level (PAL) relates to all energy expenditure throughout the day. This includes activities such as sport and general movement.

Regular intensity High intensity Very high intensity
PAL 1.6 à 1.7 1.8 à 1.9 > 1.9

This energy expenditure represents the number of calories per day that your body expends during physical activity. It is important to understand the type of physical activity that is being undertaken in order to adjust the number of calories that you consume on a daily basis.

TDEE = MB x PAL Total Daily Energy Expenditure = basal metabolism x physical activity level

Excess calories needs.

If your goal is to gain muscle mass then you must look to increase your calorie intake so that it is greater than your calorie expenditure.

If you regularly take part in intense physical activity then your body will require more energy. This energy is required in order to enable muscle contractions but also to ensure that muscle recovery is optimised after each session.

It is only in these circumstances (calories>expenditure) that your body will have sufficient reserves to build muscle mass.

The distribution of macronutrients.

The general calorie intake is a vital component in the process of building muscle mass. However, the distribution of each macronutrient is also very important.

1. Proteins & muscle.

It is common knowledge that protein plays a vital role in muscle development. But what exactly is its role?

Protein is a chain of amino acids of varying length. It makes up our cell membranes, the collagen in our skin and our bones and is present in very large quantities in our muscles.

Our body does not store protein. The excess protein is filtered by the kidneys and discharged through urine. As a result, it is essential that the foods we eat on a daily basis provide us with a sufficient amount of protein.

The more intense the activity is (bodybuilding, swimming, running, crossfit) the more your muscle fibre will be “torn” by the successive contractions. Your body will subsequently repair the damaged fibre.

Over time, your body will adapt and increase the thickness of the muscle fibres by increasing the amount of protein in the muscle. This helps prevent future muscle “tears” and is one of the basic principles of gaining muscle mass.

The repetition of the training and recovery phase will enable you to see tangible gains in muscle mass.

Nevertheless, it is important to add that the overconsumption of protein will not trigger an increase in your muscle volume. Without the physical exertion – e.g. the muscle required to use up this additional protein consumption, it will only be directed towards the kidneys to be secreted rather than absorbed by muscles. This can lead to potentially damaging effects on the body due to the kidneys being overworked.  



Protein plays two important roles:
  • It penetrates the composition of muscle via contractile proteins (actin and myosin).
  • It takes the form of enzymes that participate in the production of energy in muscles and to ensure they function properly.

Protein requirements vary depending on the type of physical activity that is being undertaken.

The type of physical activity also affects the number of grams of protein consumed per kilogram of body weight per day.

Regular intensity. Minimum of 0.8 per kg of body weight per day.
High intensity. 1.2-1.6g per kg of body weight per day.
Very high intensity. – Maintaning muscle mass: 1.2-1.7g per kg of body weight per day. - Gaining muscle mass gain: 1.7-2g per kg of body weight per day.

Our Feed. Sport range contains 37g of protein per meal. 

Ideally, it is recommended to consume protein within 30 minutes of having finished exercising. This period of time is often referred to as the metabolic or anabolic window. It is the period of time during which the mechanisms concerning muscular reconstruction are most active.

2. Carbohydrates.

Whether you are sporty or not, carbohydrates have a vital role in the production of energy. They are also the main source of fuel for your body when partaking in physical activity.

In the case of overconsumption, the body can store some of the energy intake in the muscles, liver and glycogen for later use.

However, should the carbohydrate intake exceed energy requirements and storage capacity, the excess will be converted into fatty acids and stored as triglycerides.

There are two different types of carbohydrate:

  • Simple carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, lactose): These can be assimilated quickly and are a source of energy that are easy for the body to use. They are found mainly in fruits and different types of sugar.
  • Complex carbohydrates (starch): These are slowly assimilated and are distributed periodically throughout digestion. They are present in cereals and vegetables.

These two types of carbohydrates are important components in an active persons diet. This is because they have the capacity to release energy both quickly and slowly.

It is recommended to have complex carbohydrates over three hours before exercising in order to constitute the best muscular and hepatic glycogen stores.

With regard to simple carbohydrates, it is recommended that they be consumed within an hour of commencing physical activity. They provide energy quickly, without having to rely on the mechanisms of digestion which can also use up a lot of energy.

If a physical activity lasts between 1-3 hours, an intake of simple carbohydrates will meet all of the relevant energy requirements.

For longer periods of physical activity, a mix of simple and complex carbohydrates will be more effective in preventing the depletion of glycogen stores. Protein intake can also help prevent muscle breakdown.

Having some food after exercise helps in the process of muscle recovery. An intake of protein coupled with simple carbohydrates will facilitate the reconstruction muscle fibres and refill the glycogen stores.

3. Lipids.

Lipids, often referred to as fatty acids, play an important role in ensuring a good and healthy diet. Lipids enter into the composition of certain hormones, cell membranes, nerve fibres and subcutaneous layers that maintain the body’s temperature at 37° C.

An intake of high-quality lipids is important to ensure that the immune, cerebral and thermoregulatory functions operate as they should.

In addition to these physiological functions, lipids are an excellent source of energy. While 1g of carbohydrates provides 4kcal, just 1g of lipids provides 9kcal!

After being used to synthesise hormones or other biological compounds that are essential to the body, excess lipids are oxidised to provide energy that can enable muscle contractions.

If the required amount of energy has already been met, excess lipids are stored as triglycerides in adipose tissue (body fat) rather than in muscles.

For those who take part in regular exercise, lipids must form 20-30% of the total amount of energy. They will be used as a source of energy during regular intensity activities that last more than half an hour.

The importance of omega 3.

Omega 3 and omega 6 are essential fatty acids. They have the capacity to make muscle cell membranes more flexible and therefore more resistant to lesions and inflammations that occur after taking part in physical activities.

The equal distribution between omega 3 and omega 6 is an important component in ensuring good health.

Physical exercise leads to pro-inflammatory oxidative stress and it is necessary to be nutritionally equipped to combat these issues, improve performance, recovery and avoid injuries.

It is recommended that an active person consumes 10g of omega 6 and at least 2g of omega 3 per day.

Physical exercise inevitably leads to sweating which in turn leaves the body dehydrated. The amount of sweating depends on the level of physical activity undertaken as well as its duration and the environment it is performed in.

Sweat acts as a means of controlling the body’s temperature. However, dehydration can have a severe impact on performance; a 1% decrease in body weight can lead to as much as 10% decrease in physical capacity – e.g. a loss of 700ml of water in a person who weighs 70kg.

What should I drink and when?


Water is the only essential drink for those who take part in regular exercise. However, depending on the intensity of the exercise and the temperature in which it is being done, you can add minerals and or carbohydrates to compensate for the mineral losses associated with sweating.

During exercise that lasts for roughly around an hour, water alone is enough. Having 150-200ml every 20 minutes allows for you to stay sufficiently hydrated. This water should be roughly around 15° C in order to ensure optimal absorption.

Energy drinks.

If exercise lasts for more than 90 minutes, then an energy drink that contains carbohydrates and minerals should be consumed. The longer the exercise goes on for the more glycogen, sodium and magnesium is lost through sweat.

  • If the temperature in which the exercise is taking place is above 20° C, then the drink should contain roughly 20g of carbohydrates per litre of water and 1g of salt per litre.
  • If the temperature is below 10° C, the concentration of carbohydrates should be greater than 60g and contain a maximum of 1.2g of salt per litre of water.  

There are many energy drinks available on the market. However, it is possible for you to make your own at home.

Grape juice contains 15g of sugar per 100ml and is often used in energy drinks.

Energy drink with 20g of carbohydrates. Energy drink with 60g of carbohydrates.
- 150ml of grappe juice - 750ml of water - 1 pinch of salt (optional) - 400ml of grappe juice - 600ml of water - 1,2g of salt

Fizzy drinks or undiluted juice is not any more beneficial. If the drink is too concentrated (hypertonic drink) it may cause digestive discomfort that makes taking part in physical activities uncomfortable.

To sum up

To sum up

So. Ready to train?