Eating the food for building muscle is critically important if you want to add size and strength, unfortunately, most people don’t eat anywhere near enough…are you doing the same?
If you are you’ll never gain weight no matter how much you workout or how many supplements you take.
You have to understand that there are 3 steps to building muscle, all of them essential to the muscle growth process:
- The Progressive Overload Principle – Lift more weight each week to force the body to adapt to the stress of lifting a new weight. This kicks off the muscle growth process
- Consume a Caloric Surplus – Provide more calories from the food for building muscle than your body needs to maintain its current weight. The extra calories will be used to build muscle and increase strength.
- Ensure Adequate Rest – Get at least 8 hours sleep a night, the muscle building process happens while you sleep so don’t short change your development
In this article we’ll take a look at the second key and explain how much you need to eat and exactly what you need to eat to put on lean muscle mass.
The food for building muscle can only help you gain muscle mass if you provide a caloric surplus which means you must eat more calories that your body needs to maintain its current weight.
It’s generally accepted that this equates to an additional 3500 calories per week or 500 extra calories per day.
You calculate your maintenance calories by multiplying your weight in pounds by 15.
E.g. if you weigh 170 pounds your maintenance calorie intake would be 170 x 150 which equals 2550 calories.
If you ate this much each day you would stay the same weight.
You then simply add the additional 500 calories per day to this number:
So you know how much you need to eat to build muscle, but what type of food do you need to eat?
This really depends on the type of diet approach you follow as each will have they’re own recommendations. With that said the one thing that remains consistent regardless of the approach is a high protein intake
The most important food for building muscle is protein. Your muscles are made of protein and when you lift weights you break them down. The adaptation process needs excess protein in order to rebuild the muscles and make them bigger and stronger.
Everyone should be consuming a bare minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight anyway but for muscle building this should be increased to 1.25 – 1.5 grams per pound.
So if you weigh 170 pounds you should aim to consume at least 1.25 grams per pound, but ideally aim for 1.5 grams per pound.
E.g. 170 pound dieter aiming for 1.5 grams per pound (170 x 1.5) needs 255 grams of protein per day.
This can be quite daunting; especially for people with small appetites and its part of the reason you may wish to consider a protein powder to bump up your protein intake easily.
Carb intake is highly variable as some people tolerate carbs better than others. However, even if you don’t tolerate carbs well, trying to bulk up on a low carb diet is pretty useless.
You need to provide enough carbs so that your glycogen (carbohydrate energy) stores are full, this helps you workout intensely and helps maintain strength which is key to progressive overload.
Carbs are also an easy way to fill in the rest of your calorie intake.
During muscle gain phases your carb intake should be between 1.5 and 3 grams per pound of bodyweight.
Our 170 pound dieting would calculate carb intake like so:
170 x 1.5 = 255 grams per day
170 x 2 = 340 grams per day
170 x 3 = 510 grams per day
For most people I recommend starting at 2g per pound as it’s the middle ground and from there you can access if you need more or less carbs as the diet progresses.
Fat intake is usually calculated by allocating the remaining calories after protein and carbs needs have been met.
For example, using our example our dieter needed 3050 calories per day to build muscle.
We allocated him 255 grams of protein per day. Protein has 4 calories per gram which means there are 1020 calories from protein intake (255 x 4 = 1020).
Assuming our dieting shoots for 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight (340 grams per day), it would mean 1360 calories would come from carbs. (340 x 4 = 1360).
So we need to east 3050 calories in total and 1020 have been allocated to protein and 1360 to carbs, we need to allocate the remaining calories to fat.
There are 9 calories in every gram of fat, we therefore divide 670 by 9 to determine how many grams of fat to eat each day:
Diet Plan Summary
You now have your complete muscle building diet plan and it should look like this:
Daily Calorie Intake: 3050
Daily Protein Intake: 255g
Daily Carb Intake: 340g
Daily Fat Intake: 74g
All you need to do now is ensure you eat this amount of calories, protein, carbs and fat from the food for building muscle each day, every day.
If you don’t you won’t build any muscle so consider tracking your diet to ensure you hit these targets everyday without fail.
If you’re not tracking I don’t want to hear you complain it’s not working. 99% of people who contact me because they can’t gain weight simply aren’t eating enough. By tracking your food intake daily you can guarantee your eating enough to support your gains.
Now that you know how much of the foods for building muscle to eat and where the calories need to come from you probably need some help understanding what that looks like in terms of real food.
In The Foods That Build Muscle: Choosing The Right Foods I’ll explain the types of protein, carbs and fat you should eat and when you should eat them for maximum results.