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Bodybuilding Diet

Think you know bodybuilding food? Check out the eating habits of professional bodybuilders listed here and see if your bodybuilding diet plan stacks up!


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Eating Habits of Pro Bodybuilders

Bodybuilders eat some weird things to get big, beautiful muscles. Weight lifting and eating to gain size and definition is the name of the game and the pros will do almost anything to make it happen.

With the way that most pro bodybuilders burn calories they need a LOT of high quality food to halt catabolism and keep their muscles in an anabolic state.

From classic champs like Arnold (the "Mighty Oak") to modern marvels like Jay Cutler, the way these famous bodybuilders eat can give us some insight into how they achieved their amazing results:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Admittedly, if you take a look at the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout plan then you will see that after those kind of brutal workouts you NEED a ton of food to fuel muscle growth. Check out the Arnold Schwarsenegger bodybuilding diet plan:

  • Ate 5-6 smaller meals every day
  • Ate carbs within half an hour after exercising
  • Ate 30 - 50 grams of protein with each meal (every 3 hours, approx)
  • Didn't avoid saturated fat
  • No more than 3 eggs daily
  • Replace beef and fish with pork, chicken, and fish
  • Avoid sugar

*Earlier in his career, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's favorite post-workout meals was an entire roasted chicken and a pitcher of beer!

Jay Cutler

  • 10 meals a day!
  • Eats carbs close to workout times
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal and egg whites
  • Last meal no later than 8pm
  • Lean protein and rice: round steak, chicken, fish
  • 3 gallons of water per day (that's a lot!)

Lee Haney

  • 6 meals per day
  • Most calories consumed between 8am and 4pm
  • No complex carbs
  • Breakfast omelette: 8 eggs! (save some for the rest of us)
  • Last meal of the day: mixed fruit salad or 1 cup of oatmeal with strawberries

Ronnie Coleman

  • First meal: 10:30am
  • Last meal: 1:30am
  • 6 meals per day
  • Only eat carbs, meals 1 through 4
  • Favorite meal: steak and rice

Bodybuilding Option: "Cut" vs. "Bulk"

There are many different schools of thought in the world of iron and muscle. Some guys go for maximum muscle size, others want to burn off all their body fat so that their physiques look as chiseled and toned as possible. Some bodybuilders go for both. But most people will agree: you can't do both at the same time.

Going for a deep cut means restricting calories, going for that much-sought-after "caloric deficit." Caloric deficit (like the national deficit, but for your body) is when you burn up more than you bring in. In this case, that means calories. When you burn up more calories than you use, your body turns to your fat stores to get energy. This leads to a more ripped, shredded appearance, which many bodybuilders want/need before a competition.

Bulk works the opposite way. Your body needs a caloric surplus (extra calories) in order to devote the proper nutrients and resources to the construction of new muscle. It's important to get lots of protein, to give your body the raw materials it needs to make new muscle.

Carbs directly after a workout can also help add bulk, by taking advantage of the anabolic window, during which time insulin drives sugar to the muscles. The protein goes along for the ride and bigger, stronger muscles are the result.

The downside? Carbs contribute to bloat, water weight gain, which robs muscles of that lean, rock-hard appearance that wins bodybuilding shows.

Calculating Your Calorie Intake

Figuring out how many calories you need to reach your goals is simpler than you think. Just use this handy system (or click here to use our calorie calculator):

1. Determine your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate):

   For men: 66 + (6.23 x your weight in lbs.) + (12.7 x your height in inches) - (6.8 x your age in years)

   For women: 655 + (4.35 x your weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x your height in inches) - (4.7 x your age in years).

2. Determine your daily activity level:

  1.2 - slightly active

  1.375 - slightly active with some sports or light exercise 1-3 days per week

  1.55 - moderate activity who performs sports or exercise 3 to 5 days per week

  1.725 - hard training person who carries out intense exercise or sports 6 to 7 days per week

  1.9 - very active, hard training person who performs exercise or sports and works a physically demanding job or trains twice per day

3. Multiply BMR by daily activity level.

Strange Foods of the Strong

Bruce Lee Diet: Shakes made of cow's blood and steak

Dwight Freeney Diet: Pinto beans and steak to prep for the AFC Championship

Ronnie Coleman Diet: Grits with cheese and two eggs for breakfast (also, click here to check out the Ronnie Coleman workout plan)

Lee Priest Diet: KFC big bucket of 21 chicken drumsticks

Roelly Winklaar Diet: Burger, Oreo shake, cheesecake

Even Cetopani Diet: Ate two steaks, tall stack of pancakes, and a glass of orange juice, then went off to a photo shoot where he had two double cheeseburgers and a side of fries

Phil Heath Diet: Dozen donuts ('nuff said)

Jim Walter Diet: Sushi!

Kai Greene Diet: $90 worth of IHOP and 15 hamburgers in one sitting

How do YOU Stack Up?

No, we don't mean how do you stack up as in "How many stacks of IHOP pancakes can you eat in one sitting?" (although after all of the crazy bodybuilder diet plans above that may not be so bad of an idea after all... hmm...) Anyway, how does your physique stack up? Get your own fitness report card to see where you stack up and then get started finding a workout plan!

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