Bodybuilding Recipes – How Many Do You Need?

By : | 5 Comments | On : April 22, 2012 | Category : Top Tips

CookBook

Correct nutrition in bodybuilding is critical but preparing  numerous nutritious meals takes time & effort.  Bodybuilders also tend to eat 6+meals a day and so struggle to come up with healthy recipes that are quick & easy to prepare. 

Let’s take a look at how we can minimize the effort required in preparing meals whilst maintaining the desired levels of nutrition.

Let’s be honest, lifting weights is no fun, it’s the anticipated results that gives us the buzz. These ‘results’ don’t happen whilst we’re in the gym, it’s the days following when repair and growth takes place (hopefully). To fuel this repair and growth, you need to provide your body with sufficient nutrients.

If you don’t get enough of the required nutrients inside of you then all that sweat and tears in the gym is gonna be partially if not completely wasted. Whilst many bodybuilders appreciate this fact and few refute it, preparing nutritious meals takes time. The convince of junk food is not available to the bodybuilder.

First, we need to establish how many times we’ll be eating a day. No brainer here for bodybuilders, we all know we should be eating at least six meals per day. There are many reasons why this meal pattern is best suited to bodybuilders but I won’t go into right now.

Suffice to say, that if you’re serious about bodybuilding, the traditional three square meals per just isn’t gonna cut it.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life – But It’s Hard Work

So, six plus meals per day is called for. Easier said than done, have you tired cooking six times per day, seven days per week? Even if I did have that amount of spare time on my hands, I could think of a lot more worthwhile activities to occupy it other than slaving in the kitchen.

If you look at most bodybuilding diet plans you find on-line and they usually look something like this:

Meal 1 (06:00)
8 egg whites, 1 yolk, scrambled
Half cup oatmeal
1 orange

Meal 2 (09:00)
6oz chicken breast, grilled
1 medium baked potato
1 mixed salad with low fat dressing

Meal 3 (12:00)
6oz lean steak, grilled
1 cup brown rice
3oz steamed vegetables

Meal 4 (15:00)
6oz tuna
1 cup brown rice
3oz steamed vegetables

Meal 5 (18:00)
6oz salmon, baked
1 sweet potato
3oz steamed vegetables

Meal 6 (21:00)
6oz chicken breast, grilled
3oz steamed vegetables

Ready, Steady, Not So Much Cooking

Now if you have the time (and patience) to prepare all these meals then good luck to you. I don’t know many bodybuilders that have enough time to follow a meal plan like the one above, I certainly don’t. That’s six different meals to prepare each and every day. It won’t be long before the kitchen becomes a place you begin to despise.

Even if you prepared all these meals the day before, that’s still six different meals to prepare. Doubling up so you cook two day’s worth in one batch is going to help a little but it’s still a awful lot of work.

Ok, let’s see if we can trim things down a little. We could substitute a cooked breakfast for oats and replace the mid morning snack for something that also doesn’t require much preparation like peanut butter & rice cakes or similar.

Sure you could replace a meal or two with some protein/ meal replacement powder but that’s not something I’d recommend. If you’re cutting then you’re gonna be hungry enough without resorting to liquid meals. If you’re looking to add muscle then the old adage ‘food first’ couldn’t be truer. Protein powders are a god send when it comes to pre & post workout nutrition and a life saver when it comes to convenience but don’t get into the habit of relying on liquid meals.

That still leaves us with the need to cook four different meals per day.

Four Is The Magic Number

But  who said that each meal needs to be different?, why can’t you just eat the same meal four times per day?

Now I’m sure non gym folk would curse at having to eat the same meal four times in a day but us bodybuilders are different – our eating habits are dictated more by our training goals than our palate. Tha’ts not to say that we’re happy with boiled chicken and veg for each and every meal, we still want food that tastes good and with some variety – we sure eat enough of it!

Eating the same meal four times in a day is no real hardship for the bodybuilder, especially if these meals actually taste half decent. The big payoff is that preparing your meals for the day much easier and quicker. Another bonus is that it’s also far easier to calculate your macro-nutrients.

So, hopefully you’re on-board with the idea of eating the same meal four times in a day.

Obviously you don’t want to be eating the same four meals each and every day. Besides the boredom and dullness that would quickly set in, the lack of variety in nutrients could also become a problem. You need to find yourself  at least seven different recipes so you’re at least you’re eating different meals each day of the week. That should give you enough variety and should prevent you becoming bored with the same meals.

I’d recommend more but if you’re stuck then seven is the bare minimum you could get away with.

Each bodybuilding recipe needs to  fit a number of criteria:

  • High in protein (minimum of 40g per serving)
  • Low in carbs, preferably < 15g
  • Relatively quick & easy to prepare
  • Doesn’t require a long list of  ingredients
  • Tastes good

Now that’s not asking a lot is it?

Probably the best recipe book out there for bodybuilders right now is Anabolic Cooking by Dave Ruel. The book has  over 200 recipes, well laid out &  easy to follow.

Be Prepared

One last tip for you to help make preparing your meals easier – be prepared

A good habit to get into is to prepare at least two days worth of meals on a Sunday, i.e. Monday’s & Tuesday’s. If you’ve time then prepare Wednesday’s or even Thursday’s meals . Three days in advance is about the limit (unless you freeze your meals) you want any meal sitting around  in the fridge for.

For the rest of the week, a good routine is to prepare 4-5 meals for the next day. This means cooking late in the evenings – hence the criteria for being relatively easy to prepare. Most of your meals will probably be centered around chicken (occasionally turkey), lean beef (steak & minced) fish. Once or maybe twice a week, chuck in an egg based meal, depending on your goals (putting on mass or shedding fat).

So, in reality, you only need to source seven tasty, relatively easy to prepare high protein recipes. 8,9  or more would be be nicer, for variety, but if you can find seven that you can stick with, that should see you through a good couple of months before boredom sets in.

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Rob is a firm believer that a bodybuilding diet doesn’t have to based around boiled chicken and veg.

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Comments (5)

  1. posted by Snape on May 19, 2012

    Nice post, makes sense to prepare in advance.

      Reply
  2. posted by Paulie Flex on May 26, 2012

    Man you’re good… never thought of it before reading this!!! I’ve always struggled with eating several times in a day, waaaay too much work!!! The idea of eating the same thing 4 times a day is friggin’ genius if you ask me… prep cook once and free up your time. I also agree that you should always prep in advance and stay two steps ahead or you get stuck in your workout regime and left to dry when it’s time to eat. Used to happen to me all the time!!! Get hungry really fast and have no idea what to eat so I scramble and end up eating something that ain’t great. Def prep your food beforehand and love the concept of using the same meal for one and adding variety day to day rather than in one single day!!!

      Reply
  3. posted by David on June 1, 2012

    Great to put some simplicity in the recipes savea time and expense keep up the good work Guys

      Reply
  4. posted by RK Winters on June 6, 2012

    Awesome post. I love the last point about being prepared. Half the time I skip lunch because I do not want to take time out of my day.

    I wish I could eat like this every week.

      Reply
  5. posted by Barron M on June 6, 2012

    So, sure you heard Paleo diet is all the rage. I recently started it and fell great. But want to make sure I keep on some mass, I am in military.

    How do your recipes fit into Paleo? Hope you are familiar with Paleo.

      Reply

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