That's the MOST important thing you should consider when you are training especially when you are trying to gain muscle. Eat healthy foods that come from naturals sources, do not eat processed foods because most of them lose their vitamins/fibers while being processed, they have a lot of sodium, trans fat and some of them contains harmful ingredients. There's a lot of benefits when you eat healthy, it will:
As you can see, it improve your overall health, it's not too late to make a change. However, you can eat one or two ''cheat meals'' during the week if you want but for the rest of the meals stick with healthy foods.
Which food to eat to build muscle?
To gain weight while minimizing fat gain, the best food as a protein source is;
as a carbohydrate source;
as a fat source;
If you are really busy and you don't have time to cook, you can still buy protein bars or you can make them yourself, just write ''protein bars recipe'' in google and pick the one you want. It don't take much time to make, they are convenient, healthy, easy to do and it taste great. Since you'll have to eat a lot of frequent meals during the day, I suggest you make a batch of food instead of cooking everyday and it will also save you time.
How much calorie should you eat a day?
After you have chosen your food for each meal, let's see how much calorie,protein,carbohydrate and fat you'll need per day. The calorie intake varies according to your weight,height,age,gender and daily activity. First, find your resting metabolic rate(RMR):
For men: 66+(13.7 x weight in kg)+(5 x height in cm)-(6.8 x age in years)
For women: 655+(9.6 x weight in kg)+(1.8 x height in cm)-(4.7 x age in years)
Once you have your RMR, you need to find your energy expenditure of physical activity (EEPA),multiply your RMR by:
1.2 if you are sedentary (little or no exercise)
1.375 if you are lightly active (light exercise/sport 1 to 3 days per week)
1.55 if you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3 to 5 days per week)
1.725 if you are very active/perform heavy exercise (hard exercise/sports 6 to 7 days per week)
Finally, multiply your total by 1.1 because your body burn calories to digest all these foods, it's the thermic effect of a meal (TEM). So RMR+EEPA+TEM = your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Now that you know your calorie intake, you need to know the right macronutrients for each of your meal. Here's something you need to know to do your calculations;
1g of protein = 4calories 1g of carbohydrate = 4calories
1g of fat = 9calories
First find your daily protein intake, you need to eat at least 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight (so if you weight 150lbs it would be 150g of protein daily), then 30% of your total calorie should come from fat (multiply your total calorie by 0.3, then divide it by 9 to know your daily fat intake). The rest of your calories are the carbohydrates, so add your total calorie from protein to your total calorie from fat, subtract it from your total calorie then divide it by 4 and you'll get your carbs intake. Finally, divide your total protein,carbs,fat by 4 to 6 meals for the day.
You'll have to eat more calorie than your body burn to put on muscle mass and eat even if you are not hungry. You should expect to gain at least 1 to 2 pounds per week, if you don't gain weight fast enough, just add 200-300 more calories until you gain weight. A beginner who has never workout of his life would gain muscle mass much faster than an advanced trainer (that's what we call the beginner gains) but that's only in the beginning, after the gains come more slowly and an advanced trainer would gain around 1 to 2 pounds a week.
2.Pre & Post-workout meals
This is the moment of the day that you should care the most. It's important to have a good pre-workout meal to keep your energy up during your workout,to keep a good focus/intensity,to prevent muscle breakdown and to reach your maximum potential. Not only this meal will give you a lot of energy but it will also help you to do few more repetitions or to add more weight on some exercises. Some researchs has shown that a meal before training may aid post-workout recovery. A pre-workout meal should be consumed about one to two hours before going to the gym to let the food digest a little to have nutrients available for energy.
Post-workout meal is also important and even more than your pre-workout meal. The goal when you are training is to force your muscles to break them down, then after your weight training sessions your muscles will attempt to rebuild these damaged tissues to become stronger and to be able to deal with such trauma in the future. That's how you getting bigger and stronger but it will only happen if you eat the right food after your workout. Your muscles are like a sponge and they absorb everything faster to begin the recovery process. If your not eating a meal before working out or/and after a workout, just too bad for you, you're just gonna hurt yourself...your body will break muscle for energy and to recover and also you will wasting your effort for nothing. You have to take this opportunity to help you maximize your muscle gains and strength.
Which food to eat for pre and post-workout meal?
Your meals will be only protein and carbohydrate, because fat digest really slowly, your body need something that digest faster to deliver nutrients to your muscles when you working out. I advise you to take a solid meal before working out like chicken,turkey,fish as a protein source and brown rice,wholes grains breads/pastas as a carbohydrate source. After the workout, your body need fast nutrients to begin repair your broken muscle tissue, at this time it's best to take protein(whey protein) and carbohydrate(dextrose) in powder form for fast absorption.
How much protein and carbohydrate to eat for pre and post-workout meal?
These two meals will contain more carbohydrate than every other meal of the day to ensure you get enough energy for your exercises and to prevent your body to use protein as your source of energy. To know how much you'll need, simply divide your weight by 2.2 to find your weight in kilograms, then multiply this number by 1g/kg to find your carbohydrate intake and multiply this number by 0.5 g/kg to find your protein intake(example; if I weight 80kg, it would be 80g of carbs and 40g of protein). Divide it in two equal portions, half for pre-workout and the other for post-workout. These two meals will count for one meal in the day. You'll have to reajust every others meals(you need to modify only carbohydrate and fat of others meals) to get your exact macronutrients requirement for the day or if you want to keep it simple and don't want to modify others meals, just don't count that meal.
It's important to know when to consume your food to give your body a constant feeding, to keep your muscle being repaired and to keep your muscle growing. You don't grow in the gym but you grow outside the gym when you are resting. That's why you need to eat a lot of frequents meals to get enough nutrients to recover and to ensure your muscle getting repaired and grow with that constant feeding. For best results try to eat every 2-3 hours if possible since it takes around 2 to 3 hours to your stomach to digest your food otherwise eat when you can depending on your schedule. Eating frequently will keep you with an constant energy, prevent to get hunger,prevent muscle loss and prevent cheating (eating junk food between meals).
One thing you should consume in large quantity and never avoid is water. Our body contain a lot of water, approximately 60 to 65% for men and 50% to 60% for women. You lose water every day through your breath, physical activities, perspiration and urine. There's some advantages of getting sufficient fluid daily, it;
When you are not drinking enough water it can;
It can also increase your strength if you are well hydrated just because water delivers nutrients to all body cells and lack of water make you tired,remember?. However, taking too much water can be bad for you because kidneys will work harder to flush it out and it can cause water intoxication (but this would only happen if you get huge amount of water) so you have to get the right quantity. To determine how much you'll drink daily, you will need approximatively 0.013 liter per one pound of bodyweight.