Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, and you need a trainload of it to get big. Serious mass-building athletes require 1 to 1.5 grams (g) of protein per pound of bodyweight from complete sources, such as turkey, chicken, fish, steak, low-fat dairy products and protein powder. Complete sources of protein must contain the eight essential amino acids required for growth. A 200-pound bodybuilder needs 200-300 g of complete protein daily to build mass.

Whey protein is higher in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) than solid food and is an absolute rock when it comes to packing on the beef. Leucine, one of the branched-chain aminos found in whey, stimulates muscle growth; collectively, BCAAs exert a muscle-sparing influence by decreasing protein breakdown. For best results, use whey as a complete source of protein at two of your daily meals.

There’s no way to train hard enough to build mass without the energy derived from carbs. Consuming carbs allows your body to release insulin — perhaps the most important muscle-building hormone in the human body — which increases protein uptake by muscles while preventing muscle breakdown. You need 2.5 to 3.5 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight to optimize your anabolic options. A 200-pound bodybuilder, for instance, should take in 500-700 g per day.

For maximal results, split your daily calories into five or six small meals to provide a steady stream of nutrients to support recovery and growth. Include fast-acting quick-to-digest carbs in the two meals that follow your training session, as these easy-to-process carbs help replenish glycogen to aid postworkout recovery. Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, white rice, potatoes and honey are excellent choices.

Dietary fat should be fixed at .35 g per pound of bodyweight. Most of that required total will come naturally as a byproduct of protein-rich food sources, such as chicken, steak and fish. High-fat diets are completely overrated. Carbs and protein are the two most important nutrients for a bodybuilder. Opting for more fat at the expense of carbs is a dietary blunder that will make you big in all the wrong places.