T Nation

General Bodybuilding Nutrition


I'm not new to overall weight training and training hard but new to the concepts of bodybuilding. I'm looking for some general tips on what to eat and when to maximize my bodies potential to gain mass. I've gained a considerable amount of strength over the last 7 months of steady weight training but have gained very little in size. I'm 6'3 and a somewhat thin 205 lbs and can see the results of my training only if I flex. Otherwise I put clothes on and look like I haven't spent one day in the gym.


Start with the stickies in the beginner section.

After that, post your actual diet and work out.

Easier to get advice when you are specific.

Good luck.


I'm your height. It takes a long time and a lot of scale weight to fill out this frame. My avi is me at 225-230, I didn't really see any difference in muscle size in the mirror until I was well over 210. Started at 180lbs.

If the scale isn't moving up, you just aren't eating enough period. Up your total calories by 500 per day, eat 1.5g-2g/lb of protein per day, generally try to get your carbs in the morning and pre/during/post workout. Personally I use a pretty isocaloric macro split (about 1/3 of my calories come from each fat, carbs and protein).

Depending on your personality type you can plan this out in a spreadsheet or just follow what I wrote. It really doesn't have to be more complicated than that.

Make sure to adjust as you go. I started eating 3500 cals/day iirc and now I'm at close to 5000. I log my weight and when it hardly moves for 2 or 3 weeks I increase by a couple hundred. Rinse/repeat.


"General Bodybuilding Nutrition" for size: Plenty of protein, don't be scared of fat or carbs. Bodyweight should be increasing weekly, strength should be increasing most sessions.

"General Bodybuilding Nutrition" for fat loss: Plenty of protein, don't be scared of fat, don't be scared of carbs on days you train hard. Bodyweight should be holding or decreasing gradually, strength should be increasing in most sessions, pictures should show monthly visible progress.

What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

You're spot-on that it'll take more mass to fill out a taller frame, but it's certainly possible. Here's some other reading that might help your situation:


can we sticky this please??


I've seen this question posted countless times from you, and I'm just curious how often, if ever, do you get an actual response? When none of the posters can even put in the time to type up what they ate that should tell you something about the effort they're willing to put into their diet in the long haul...and yet they expect a plethora of information from the members here advising them.

But I guess that's just how it goes...those that can actually answered your question in a detailed manner don't even need to start threads like this in the first place.


Asking this is something I actually stole from Dan John way back when. Anyhow, I decided to do a little research into the results. Of the 12 different threads I recently posted this question in, it ended up as follows:

OP actually answers the question, "what exactly did you eat yesterday": 4
OP answers with "a general/typical day", instead of exactly what they ate yesterday: 2
OP totally ignores this nutrition question but actually replies to other (training related) advice in my same post: 1
OP never posts in that thread again: 5.

So, yeah, it does turn out that asking someone exactly what they ate in the last 24 hours ends up entirely pointless a solid 66% of the time.

I'm usually slow to call troll and I try to give beginners the benefit of the doubt, so I'll keep asking whenever it's relevant because it can be a useful starting point. But like you said, there's often a major disconnect between the info people provide and their ability to seek out/accept advice.


Okay, so I am not the OP and I really don't mean to take over here, but I am 6'2" 192lbs, came down from 265 over the course of three years using the V-Diet and "Green Faces" followed by a long stint of Paleo style eating. I am finishing and Exercise Science degree and have been using a 5/3/1 style of program for quite some time. I am in no way overly experienced, but I do have a strong base of knowledge in this stuff. I want to start bulking, I realize it will take a long time, and I am very okay with that, but I am wondering how or if my diet should be adjusted considering that I was once a really fat dude? Is this just a take it a bit slower than you would otherwise situation? Or should my body have adapted in terms of insulin sensitivity and Fat metabolism?


Chris, maybe you can start asking them how many bowel movements they had yesterday-- just to see if they're paying attention.

OP actually answers the question, "Exactly how many bowel movements did you have yesterday": 4
OP answers with "a general/typical day", instead of exactly how many BM's yesterday: 2
OP totally ignores this poopy question but actually replies to other (training related) advice in my same post: 1
OP posts poop pics in that thread: 5.


One of my first posts on this site, Chris asked me this question. I answered, found out my nutrition was whack, and started eating more and more. I give alot of credit to him, because even though I didn't know HOW to train right, or exactly WHAT to eat, after that I always knew at least that I NEEDED to eat, which at least pointed me in the right direction...


Oh yea, Chris is no doubt an outstanding poster. I'm just amazed at his patience.


This is the reason why before I work with any of my online coaching clients I make them keep a 2 week log of their DIET and current Training so that I can really get a good idea of what's going on. If I ask them to log one day, they'll go out of their way to try to eat what they think I want them to. If I don't know what to address in terms of 'problems' I can't fix it. If someone hides their poor eating habits, no one can magically give them advice to address them!



If you read 5/3/1, then you wouldn't have needed to ask this question.



Well, shucks, some of you guys are giving me a swelled head.

And I'm not just talking about an ego boost. :confused:


That's awesome work for sure. Congrats, man.

Thing is though, dropping 70 pounds in 3 years is slow (albeit steady) progress for a bigger guy. Were you a kinda-muscular 265 or was there another issue along the way? What's your current condition: lean-ish, soft, something else?

Low carb diet, low carb diet, and low-to-moderate carb diet. Not critiquing, just pointing out that it sounds like a long time since carbs have been a significant part of your diet. They can definitely be beneficial when you get back to bulking, but remember to take it easy and gradually incorporate them.

It depends on a few things. Your current condition/bodyfat, your training, the nutrition plan you use to bulk, etc. If you're relatively lean/not still fat, lifting hard, doing your cardio (yes, some, even while bulking), and your eating's on point, I wouldn't stress much over insulin resistance or fat adaptation.

You're on a plan working towards a specific goal. Monitor progress on a weekly basis (strength, bodyweight, pics and/or measurements, how clothes are fitting) and adjust the plan as needed, just like anyone else.

But in general, since this is a "general nutrition" thread, yep, I'd say bump up your calories in smaller chunks, a few hundred at a time. Then see how it goes, and adjust as needed. The other big key is to make sure your strength is increasing pretty much across the board while you're gaining bodyweight. That'd be a decent indicator that you're building muscle along the way.

Check out these articles for some probably-relevant and useful points:
Or if you're digging the paleo plan in general and want to tweak it a bit:


I worked at an office with this lady that hired a nutritional consultant. When the consultant asked for a diet log the lady just made it up. Her favorite snack was a white flower tortilla with butter and cinnamon sugar on it. She would eat one every day for a snack then write down that she had celery/carrots and a 1/4 cup of ranch.

After about 2 months she got pissed and quit the nutritional consultant as she had not lost any weight.
People are crazy!


I was soft, but had always been athletic, Linebacker in Uni. Football (Canada), and fairly muscular. I would say leanish. I can see abs unflexed and my lifts are decent (Front squat 290, Bench 320 and DL 490). I went slowly because I really didn't want to see my strength drop off and at times where the weight really started dropping off my lifting suffered.


Mighty Stu. Interesting. What "Red Flags" do you typically look for in the diet of someone who trains 3 times a week, is in a slight calorie deficit and maybe has trouble getting below 10% body fat?


A lot of times you will see people who think they're eating 'healthy', but in actuality aren't doing themselves any favors. For example, my Mother insists on buying and downing fat free ice-cream, yogurt, you name it, and then she ends up having a feeding that is nothing more than carbs and carbs with nothing to slow the insulin release.

She will additionally eat so infrequently that the body wants to store what little nutrients it does get. On top of that, she will ingest such little protein, that when coupled with next to no strenuous physical exercise, tells the body "okay, it's perfectly acceptable to eat these muscles for energy."

For people who aren't quite full-blown gym rats, but do their 3 days a week, they often don't realize that they have to pay attention to what they eat on non-gym days as well. Then you can get me going on what may pass for a "workout" in the first place. If you're only training 3x a week, you've got to not just work the muscle, but do enough work that they body will need a few days to repair and adapt.

This is why when I look over someone's diet, I always want to see what they're doing training wise. Sometimes even a small tweak in exercise selection, order, or even just a performance trick can make a huge difference over time.



Isn't that the truth. I finally discovered that "paying attention to what I eat on non-gym days" is critical to looking like I lift. I only have time for 3 intense workouts a week, but I never started getting the body I wanted until I started watching what I ate on non-gym days.