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The Muscle Building Meal Plan

If you want to build muscle quickly, nutrition is 80% of the game. Knowing what to eat and when is critical for success. Let’s go over what you need to know.

If you are attempting to build lean muscle mass, you must remember that it will take more than just training hard in the gym. You need to eat to grow as the saying goes. Your body is trying to generate new body tissue so this means you need to eat more than what it takes to just maintain your body weight. If you are training hard and not growing, chances are it’s because of one thing: you aren’t eating enough.

Therefore, let’s go over what you do need to eat to see success.

Calories Count

Of everything you do, the most important is going to be ensuring that you get sufficient calories in. If you don’t eat enough calories, you aren’t giving your body the resources it needs to grow, thus you will falter.

Most people need to consume between 16-18 calories per pound of bodyweight in order to start seeing weight gain.

If you are exceptionally active or have a fast metabolism naturally (aka, you’re a "skinny guy"), expect to take that up to the 20-22 calories/lb. range.

Start counting out what you are eating now so you have a good idea where you stand.

Protein Is Important, But Not As Important As You Might Think

Also note that while protein is definitely important to give your body the raw materials it needs to build muscle, protein alone is not enough. Protein cannot provide your body with the energy it needs to generate that new lean muscle mass.

Too many bodybuilders think it’s all about sucking back protein shake after protein shake.

Because you are in a calorie surplus, you need a minimum amount of protein. 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is actually sufficient. You need more protein if you are actively trying to diet.

Don’t Neglect Those Carbs

This means you must get in those carbs. Carbohydrates are a bodybuilders friend, not the enemy. Too many people fear them thinking they’ll cause them to gain weight, but this isn’t the case. Eating too many calories is what causes weight gain. It doesn’t matter if this comes from carbs, proteins, or fats.

Carbohydrates are what provides the energy to complete those intense weightlifting sessions and are what helps to restore muscle glycogen levels. So don’t be afraid to get them in. Especially load up around your workout as this is when you need them the most.

Plan Fats Wisely

Finally, do remember to get in some fats. Your fat intake will heavily dictate your testosterone levels, so you want to be sure you don’t drop this too low. Choose healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, nut butters, avocados, and fatty varieties of fish. Eat these away from the workout period if possible as fats can weight you down and cause you to feel more sluggish.

So now that you’re all set with your macro profiles, let’s show you a sample muscle building meal plan.

Breakfast: ½ cup (raw measure) oatmeal mixed with 1 scoop whey protein powder, topped with 1 banana and 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter. 1 whole egg mixed with 1 cup egg whites, scrambled and served with some salsa.

Mid-Morning Snack: 2 slices Ezekiel break with 3 oz. grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, and mustard.

Lunch: 1 can of tuna mixed with ½ cup kernel corn, 1 diced tomato, and ½ cup salsa served over 1 cup brown rice. Have half an avocado alongside the meal.

Pre-Workout: 3 oz. grilled chicken breast served with 200 grams of baked sweet potatoes.

Post-Workout: 1 banana mixed with 1 scoop whey protein powder

Dinner (30 minutes later): 2 cups whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce, and 4 oz. grilled cooked salmon. Served with 1 cup steamed broccoli.

Before-Bed: 1 cup cottage cheese with 1 tbsp. natural almond butter

[Image via iStock/Getty]

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