I once read a quote in some muscle or fitness magazine that said something about fitness being 80% diet and 20% exercise. I’m not sure if that is the exact number I read and it was a long time ago but I do believe it – you simply cannot perform at your full potential without a proper muscle building diet.
Muscles need the right nutrition and fuel to grow big, and your metabolism needs certain food types to burn fat while building muscle.
On this page we will share many muscle building dieting tips, muscle building recipes (aka food that actually tastes good), and an overall guide to proper nutrition for people interested in building lean muscle and lowering body fat percentage.
Diet has a greater effect on your muscle building efforts than any other single thing you can do while living a healthy lifestyle. Trying to build muscle without a proper muscle building diet is like trying to race your car without filling it with gas – you’re not going to get anywhere no matter how hard you rev the engine.
Fad diets come and go all the time, but the basics never change. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that all that advice you get from older people (whether it has to do with muscle building or just life in general) makes more and more sense as you progress through life. When it comes to bodybuilding, there are a few timeless pieces of advice that will never change.
The science of muscle building diets is constantly advancing, however, so you will always learn new things and find new ways to push your training to the ultimate maximum. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject, so we are not going to try to write a complete bible to the perfect muscle building diet. What we will do in this article is explain the basics so that you can get off to a running start and continue to learn as you go.
Mass Gain Diet
The purpose of the mass gain diet is to give your muscles all the nutrients they need to grow to their full potential. This is not specifically a fat cutting diet, but it also will not put fat on your body if it is applied correctly. Many people are under the impression that to gain muscle, you have to be willing to gain a little fat as well. That is not true.
A mass gain diet is designed to provide you with a lot of calories, but not just any old calories. With the mass gain diet, the goal is to provide your body with clean calories. Now I know that calorie is a calorie is a calorie, but some calories provide more benefit than others. For example, you’re going to get completely different results if you eat grilled chicken every night than if you drink three beers for dinner.
A basic bodybuilding diet is composed of three main types of food: carbohydrates, protein and fat. There are about a thousand different ratios that people swear by, but the following ratio is one of the most common:
Thanks to all the fad diets involving carbohydrates recently, carbs have gotten a bad rap. The truth is that your body needs carbohydrates for energy and to help build muscle. You can find good, clean carbohydrates in food sources such as broccoli, oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans and whole wheat.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to intake at least one gram of protein per pound in bodyweight. So if you weigh 180 pounds, you need to be taking in at least 180 grams of protein every day.
Protein supplements can help you reach this goal, but it is important that you supply most of your protein from natural foods such as chicken, turkey, tuna, eggs and milk.
What!? Is this guy seriously recommending I eat fat!? Yup! Fat helps transport nutrients throughout your body, it helps your brain function, it helps your joins stay in good shape and it protects your internal organs.
Not just any fat will do, though. You want “good” fat, which comes in two forms: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Both types of fat are considered non-saturated.
Good sources of fat include canola oil, peanut oil, avocados, nuts, flax seeds, fish and olives.
Throw out all the soda, coffee and other random crap you drink and make the switch to water right now. Water is absolutely vital for both muscle gain and your overall health.
Water plays an important role in almost every bodily function. Additionally, it cleanses your body, helps your organs function and promotes muscle growth.
Make sure you take a multivitamin when drinking lots of water. All the fluid you have going through your body can result in a deficiency in vitamins.
Implementing the Muscle Building Diet
There’s a lot more we could talk about, but we have at least covered the basics so far. Now it is time to implement your muscle building diet. First of all, you will need to figure out how many calories your body needs every day.
This first part will require a little trial and error, but a good starting point is anywhere between 2500 and 4000 calories a day.
If you are first getting started, you can start out at around the 2500 mark and move it up from there. You want to take in as many calories as you possibly can without putting on extra fat.
If you notice that you’re getting fatter, you can cut back slightly on the calories and go from there. The goal is to eat as much clean food as you can without putting on unnecessary fat.
If you’re serious about transforming your body and improving your health, you are going to need to learn how to track your calories, carbs, protein and fat. Get a notebook and write down everything you eat. This is a pain in the rear at first, but it gets a lot easier after a week or two.
It is vital that you actually record everything you eat. Even if you know the basics of a muscle building diet, you need to see how it actually plays out in practice. I am willing to bet there will be a few surprises in your diet journal.
Many people are surprised by how many calories they actually take in compared to how many calories they thought they were taking it.