So much advice about best diet for muscle building diets is off the mark. There’s no point being diplomatic: much of what you read on weight training and fat loss sites about how much protein you need, what supplements you need, how you should eat and why are just plain wrong. Weight training and fat loss nutrition are sciences like anything else in the fitness sciences: it’s biology and biochemistry and physiology and it has rules and a base of evidence.
What’s worse is that selling supplements, most of which are not needed, has become such huge business in the commercial weight training and bodybuilding ‘industry’ that it is almost impossible to know if you are getting an objective evaluation of bodybuilding diet and nutrition.
Here’s what you need to know about diet and nutrition for weight training and bodybuilding. In fact, it’s not all that different from a normal healthy athlete’s diet, except for some emphasis on quantity and meal timing in various training phases. This, however, is where the detail becomes very important.
Why diet is so important
What you eat is just as important as exercise when it comes to muscle gain. Here at 8fit, we create customized meal plans based on your goals. If your goal is to gain muscle, your macronutrient amounts — specifically protein — are adjusted to help you get there.
Adding additional protein to your diet helps give your muscles the energy they need for weightlifting programs and muscle repair.
High protein foods for muscle gain
There are certain foods that help and hurt muscle gain. Foods to avoid include poor quality foods with low nutritional value like processed snacks, fast food meals or junk foods. Foods that help include nutrient-dense whole foods like:
- Chicken: Full of high-quality complete proteins
- Lean beef: Has muscle-building nutrients like high-quality protein, iron, zinc and plenty of B vitamins
- Fish: High in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids; recent studies show that omega-3s help postabsorptive muscle protein synthesis and enhanced anabolic responses to exercise
- Eggs: High-quality protein, amino acids and vitamins; don’t skip the yolks as they contain extra nutrition
- Tofu: Great vegan option that is rich in iron and calcium
- Legumes: Another high-protein option for vegans with a good balance of carbohydrates and dietary fiber
- Milk: Great source of complete proteins, calcium, potassium and some B vitamins
- Whole grain carbs: Reach for steel cut oats and brown rice; both have high magnesium content which is good for the heart
- Water: Our bodies are made of water, hydration is key for building muscles mass
- Nuts: Unsweetened, unsalted versions of nuts like almonds and walnuts have a great amount of proteins and healthy fats
How much protein do I need?
1 gram per pound is your protein needs and I suggest getting this important macronutrient via healthy wholesome foods. Some great sources of protein include chicken, fish (e.g. salmon), pork, beef or, my personal favorite, wild game like venison or elk. If you aren’t able to get in a good meal pre- or post-workout, then I would recommend drinking a protein shake.
Don’t know what protein powder to go for? Recent studies have shown that whey protein is the most effective to increase hypertrophy over the others.
If you’re vegan, opt for something plant-based such as hemp or pea protein.
Muscle Building diet
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds; some lean meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy products; and mono and polyunsaturated oils
- Limit intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, alcohol and an excess of added sugars and sugary foods
- Drink plenty of water
I would suggest if you want to put on muscle follow the lean bulk approach
Also check out
- 10 simple exercises for Building Muscle and Staying Injury Free
- 4 of the Best Workout Routine For Men To Build Muscles
Meal frequency and timing
As part of your muscle gain program, eat at least 3 meals per day including a snack between each meal. When it comes to timing your meals, many studies show that it doesn’t matter if you have your protein-packed meal before or after a workout. What’s important is that you eat during your metabolic window 30-45 minutes after a workout to help your muscles recover and rebuild. Also, remember to maintain the correct daily macronutrient intake (use your 8fit meal plan for that) and get your nutrients from high-quality food sources.
If you want to maximize your protein synthesis and muscle gain, new research has uncovered a major breakthrough and indicates that if you have a generous serving of protein (minimum of 40 grams) before you go to bed, that you will see significant increases in strength and muscular hypertrophy. Keep in mind that every body is different so your personal protein needs may differ. Try eating a protein-packed meal for dinner or easily digestible snack to see big gains.
Yavar’s favorite meals for muscle gain
Let me start by saying that when you are trying to gain muscle, your meal might not always be pretty. It’s more important that they are nutritionally dense with protein and healthy carbs. If you’re serious about building muscles, I suggest getting into a meal prep routine. Cook foods like brown rice and chicken – every bodybuilder’s go-to – in large batches and portion it out for the week.
Here are some of my favorite meals that help with muscle gain:
- Breakfast: I love steel cut oats with blueberries, nuts and seeds with hard-boiled eggs and a banana on the side. This is my favorite breakfast regardless of my current goals because it’s delicious and keeps me full until lunch. I adjust the portion size depending on what I’m working on at the moment.
- Lunch: For lunch, I often have chicken breast with brown rice and plenty of veggies like broccoli, brussel sprouts or green beans.
- Snack: I always keep hard boiled eggs on hand for snacks. I’ll also reach for nuts – almonds or walnuts – and raw veggies with dip between meals.
- Dinner: My dinner sometimes looks a lot like lunch. I love grilled salmon with brown rice and veggies. I often work out in the evenings if I’m looking to gain muscle mass. Following my workout, I try to eat dinner and get into bed ASAP so my muscles can start recuperating.
Interested in gaining muscle? Try my 12-week strength training plan.
Conclusion On Best diet for Muscle Building
I would suggest making your own shakes at home and don’t forget the basics of fat loss
- Strength training 2-4 times per week
- Eat healthy food
- Eat in a calorie surplus
If you need more help then Sign up for my 1-on-1 coaching program where you will get to learn your situation, your lifestyle, and your experience, and then build a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits into your busy life. We get to know you better than you know yourself, and we’ve got the results to prove it! Consider checking out my coaching program if you’re looking for that next level of expert guidance and accountability.