Lifting is important, but what’s even more important is your diet. If you want to maximize your gains in the gym, then you need to be eating the right meals. Not just any meal, you need to be eating meals for weight lifters (yes they exist). Once you get your diet in sync with your lifting, you will see a noticeable difference in your results. Who doesn’t want awesome results? If you’re going to do something, do it right. Don’t half ass it. What’s the point in that? Eating right isn’t just good for gaining muscle, it’s just plain healthy. You only get one body(YOGOB), don’t screw it up feeding it unhealthy crap.
Eating the right foods was one of the hardest things for me to start doing. For the longest time, I would lift and eat whatever I could get my hands on. I wanted to get big so I thought the more I ate, the better (more on this later). My body would just turn it into muscle right? Who cares about my cholesterol, I just wanted to be big. Then I realized how terribly wrong I was and got my diet in check. Once I did, my gains went through the roof. I wasn’t as sore anymore after my workouts. I was recovering faster and this allowed me to train harder every time I was in the gym because I could give 110% every set. I also just felt healthier over all which gave me a new outlook on lifting and my fitness in general. I loved it. It became a lifestyle to me.
When I’m trying to gain some muscle mass (bulking), I try to eat about 4 meals a day. That is what works best for my schedule. You need to find what works for you. However if you’re trying to beef up and get big you should be eating at least 4-6 times a day. You need to eat a lot, it will feel weird at first, but it’s necessary if you want to start packing on some serious muscle. To make it easier for you to start eating the right types of foods, I’m going give you 7 meals that are great for weight lifters like you and me. These are meals I eat every week. Implement them into your daily life and watch how healthy you feel. I’ll break each meal down into a category and give you some example meals for each. Beware I’m not telling you to eat 7 meals a day, I’m just giving you several options for each. So let us begin…
Meal #1: Eggs and egg whites
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 Cup Egg Whites (can come from eggs just don’t add the yolk)
- Cooking oil
This is a “staple” breakfast for every weight lifter. It’s easy to make, highly effective and cheap. Eggs have lots of essential vitamins and minerals in them that are great for your body. They are full of Vitamin D (one of the only natural sources for this) and calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Eggs are also one of the best sources of protein you can come by and all eight essential amino acids are included in that one little shell. They do have cholesterol in them, but this is the good cholesterol (HDL) and will help boost your testosterone levels. Great for putting on some muscle mass.
If you don’t like the taste, try adding a little bit of Tabasco or ketchup and salt and pepper. It won’t kill you. Just don’t drench it in salt. This is a fairly quick meal and can easily be included in any diet.
You can also hard boil the eggs if you like. Some folks find that easier to do since you can cook a lot of them at once then store the rest in the fridge to eat later. A nice trick I do to make them easy to peel is to throw some salt in when the water is boiling. I find that the shell comes off much easier that way! As I said before, just make sure you don’t drench them with a bunch of salt!
Meal #2: Oat meal
- 1 Packet Oat Meal (Quaker is the most famous)
- 1 Cup of water
Universally considered “the” meal for weight lifters, oat meal is right up there with some of the healthiest dishes. It will often even come out on top because of the oats it contains. Oats with beta-glucan in them are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and oatmeal is loaded with them. Although having a healthy heart is definitely a good idea, the reason we lifters love oatmeal is a bit different. Oatmeal is full of complex carbs which is exactly what your body needs if you lift often. They form muscle glycogen, which powers our muscles through those tough workouts. Complex carbs are different because they are slow to burn which means we get more energy over a longer period of time.
If you can’t stand the taste of oatmeal try sprinkling in some fruit to give it a nice healthy kick. You could also add a dash of cinnamon or even a little bit of brown sugar to liven it up a little bit. Just don’t add too much extras or else you’ll kind of defeat the purpose of eating oatmeal in the first place!
Meal #3: Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB&J)
- 2 tbsp. of peanut butter
- 1 tbsp. of jelly (grape or strawberry)
- 2 slices of whole wheat bread
Ahh, the classic PB&J. A lot of lifters commonly overlook the most easy to make meal of all time. Not only is it simple, but the renowned PB&J is great for your gains. Peanut butter contains a lot of unsaturated fats which is the good kind of fat. The kind of fat we need when we are going hard in the gym (which you should be doing). It’s also cholesterol free which is always a bonus. More importantly however, is that in a 2 tbsp. serving of peanut butter contains 8 g protein. If you throw the 2 tbsp serving of peanut butter on some whole wheat bread it will be a complete protein (by itself it is not). In addition to the protein, it also has a lot of vitamins in it which make it a great healthy treat. Throw some jelly on there for taste (not too much) and you are looking at an excellent weight lifter meal.
Some people might say that putting jelly on is really bad for your gains. While it’s true it isn’t the best thing to be putting in your body, I’m a firm believer that everything is okay in moderation. Just don’t go crazy with and you’ll be fine. It won’t kill you.
Meal #4: Turkey wrap
- 4 oz. lean turkey slices
- 1 tortilla
- lettuce/tomato if desired
Turkey wraps are a great choice for lunch. With the right kind of turkey (don’t get the processed crap), you are looking at any where from 15-21 g of protein per wrap! For those of you that are unaware, you will quickly learn that protein is essential for building and repairing your muscles. If you are lifting often and not feeding your body the right kinds of food, you are wasting your time. You need protein to recover, else you are just burning off muscle in the gym instead of gaining it.
Take the turkey slices (3-4) and place them in the tortilla. Sprinkle in some sliced tomatoes or lettuce if desired. Try not to add mayonnaise. If you are looking for some extra flavor, add mustard instead.
Meal #5: Tuna pasta
- 1 serving of pasta (I like penne pasta noodles for this meal)
- 1 can of tuna
- 1 cup marinara sauce
Before a hard workout or training session, you need to have something to burn. By eating carbohydrates (carbs) before you train, you are essentially giving your body something to burn instead of muscle. We don’t want to burn off muscle if we are trying to GAIN muscle now do we? That’s why your pre-workout meal is so important. It is absolutely essential to feed your body the fuel it needs before a workout, if not, you are likely wasting your time and all the hard work you are doing in the gym is going to waste.
In my opinion, tuna pasta is simply one of the greatest meals for weight lifters there is. From pasta, you are getting the essential nutrients your body needs to replenish the glycogen your muscles need. Without it, your body is starving for something to give it’s muscles and you are missing out on some serious gains. Then there is the tuna, which is an all around great source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
This is a really simple dish to make. Just boil up some water, throw in the pasta and let that cook. Once the pasta is ready (after about 6-8 mins usually), open up the can of tuna. Measure out the desired amount of sauce and dump the two into the bowl. Stir it all up and you have yourself a nice pre-workout meal.
Meal #6: Grilled chicken breast
- 6 oz skinless boneless chicken breast
- 1/2 cup of broccoli
- cooking oil
Just as your pre-workout meal is important, so too is your post-workout meal. After a hard session in the gym, your muscles are starving for the nutrients they need to replenish and rebuild themselves even stronger. Grilled chicken breast is definitely one of the best things you can feed your body after a good hard training. High in protein and other nutrients, skinless boneless chicken breast is one of the “cleanest” things you can eat. Add some broccoli on the side for some vitamin C and some good dietary fiber and you are looking at a great post workout meal. Just be sure you steam the broccoli rather than boil them. Boiling broccoli can eliminate up to 40% of the nutrients inside it.
This meal takes a little more work but is definitely a rewarding one after you finish it. Take 6 oz. of chicken breast and grill it up. You can either use an actual grill, using a frying pan, or even boil it. Cook until the meat is fully cooked. Use a steamer to steam the broccoli. Add a few spices if the chicken is too bland, and enjoy.
Meal #7: Italian sausage
- 1 link Italian sausage
- 195 g brown rice
If you’re not a fan of chicken breast, this is your next best choice. Sausage is another great source of protein –and I’ll say it again, you NEED to feed your muscles after you train. Protein is great for this, and helps repair the muscle tissue like I said before. Italian sausage can be a little tastier than just plain old chicken breast but beware because it does have some sodium stuffed in there sometimes. Too much sodium can definitely be bad for your gains. Cook up some brown rice on the side for some additional protein and some other great nutrients like Calcium and Iron.
As with the grilled chicken, the sausage and brown rice is going to take you a little longer to cook. However, if you’re not fully committed to this in the first place then I figure you would have stopped reading a long time ago. As for cooking this dish, simply grill up the sausage on an actual grill or as with the chicken you can use a frying pan. Steam up the rice and enjoy this awesome post-workout meal!
I think I’ve conveyed in this post how important your nutrition is. At least, I’ve attempted to. It’s really one of the most important things you can do to help yourself inside and outside of lifting. Once you get your diet in check not only will you see a difference in your gains and abilities in the gym, but you will also just feel healthier in general. You have to look at your diet as just important as your lifting inside the gym. Once you start to learn this, you will see results. Just give it time and stay consistent.