Very often asked question by all beginners in bodybuilding and fitness in general is, whether it is possible to build muscle mass with only three meals a day (so that meals will be divided into breakfast, lunch and dinner). According to professional fitness trainers and athletes, although not the best way to build muscle mass (the best way to build muscle mass is practicing 5-6 meals throughout the whole day), it is possible to do it by eating 3 meals a day. What’s most important to know when practicing this approach of eating is that the quality, size and timing are the most important factors of muscle development.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, hope you’ve heard that. When you are practicing the 3-meals-a-day way of eating, your breakfast should be 20-25% of the daily caloric intake (ex. If you are supposed to eat 2200 calories on a daily basis, your breakfast is supposed to be in the range of 450-550 calories). This means a moderate breakfast.
• Omelet with low fat cheese and few slices of chicken or turkey meat, combined with fresh salad.
• Oatmeal combined with protein drink and few pieces of fruit (banana, apple, orange).
When you are practicing this way of eating, breakfast is the second most important meal of the day. However, on the rest day, this is the most important meal of the day, where you should consume 40-45% of the daily calorie intake.
When it comes to lunch, it should be 30% of your daily calorie intake. You may ask why? The reason for this low percentage of calories is that, when you are practicing this way of eating, the training will be done around 6-7 pm. And according to the fitness industry, there is no need to overload the digestive system with large amount of food before your training session.
As you already know, there are several protein sources to be used when preparing lunch meal. Best out of the best are: chicken, turkey meat, pure beef and fish. If you are a vegan or vegetarian: beans, peas, soy, lentils.
When it comes to carbohydrates, they should be with a high Glycemic Index.
Glycemic Index is a measurement carried out on carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on our blood sugar.
Carbohydrates with high Glycemic Index are: white rice, white bread, corn, potatoes, honey, etc.
On a rest day, you can prepare bigger lunch and add more calories to it.
3. Post training
Right after you training is done, the best thing to do is consume around 25-30 grams of protein in a form of sports nutritional supplement, along with 30-40 grams of simple sugars (or carbohydrates with high Glycemic Index) to maximize the muscle mass gains.
When following this scheme for building muscle mass, dinner is the most important and the biggest meal of the day. In this case, your dinner is supposed to be packed with 50-55% of the daily calorie intake. On a rest day, your biggest and most important meal of the day is breakfast, where you consume 45-50% of the calories, while dinner is only 30%.
Calories consumed from the post training drink should be added to your dinner. So, when cooking dinner, be aware of the previous calories you’ve consumed.
The best choice for dinner is lean and quality meat (if you are omnivore), that is chicken, turkey, low fat pork, combined with potato, pasta (noodles), rice, egg whites or cottage cheese and salad.
Note: This way of eating might be impossible for someone, because some of the meals are huge and high in calories. My advice for building muscle mass is, break down the calories into 5-6 smaller meals. It’s easier better and in the same time easier for you.