Muscle Building Diet
Whether your goal is to build muscle mass, increase your bench press, or
both, even the best training program will be worthless if you are not eating properly.
There is actually no one universal "best" muscle building diet; there are numerous approaches that work well.
There are a myriad of approaches that can be effective, and you should choose the one that is most convenient for
you. The key is simply following through, so whatever you like to do best should be your choice.
Stength Training Diet
Balanced Weight Training Diet
I will be adding more specifics on different approaches as time goes on, but for now, here are some factors
which any effective muscle building diet should have.
The Three Keys of a Muscle Building Diet
All effective muscle-building diet plans have three major things in common: they focus on total number of
calories, protein intake, and peri-workout nutrition. Below, I will expand upon these factors in further
Total Number of Calories
No matter which way you divide your nutrients, what you eat, or when you eat it, you will at some point have to
consume more calories then you burn in order to build muscle.
Building muscle is an calorically expensive pursuit. It is a very metabolically active and as a result it
requires a lot of calories simply to maintain. It is estimated that every pound of muscle requires 10-12 calories a
day to support assuming the person is doing absolutely no activity.
As a result, your body will not be inclined to start building muscle mass unless you are eating more calories
then you are burning. It is basic thermodynamics: your body cannot create what it does not have.
Is it possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time? Certainly, but that also depends on a lot of
factors aside from diet, such as current body fat, genetics and hormonal status. It is also a bit of a misnomer:
building muscle and losing fat does not actually occur simultaneously but rather it relies on alternating between
periods of caloric excess (building muscle) and caloric deficit (losing fat).
Protein Intake (for more information, see my How Much Protein to Build Muscle article)
Another key feature of any muscle building diet is the amount of protein you are taking in. The relationship is
clear: muscles are made primarily out of protein and water, so any muscle building diet will need to provide plenty
of protein and water.
When you are weight training, your protein needs increase simply to maintain muscle mass, let alone build
muscle. Weight training literally breaks muscle tissue down, so your body will be using protein to repair
Protein is also used by the body as a structural component in every practically all tissues and is also used to
create enzymes and other necessary components for a living organism.
Both repairing muscle and maintaining body functions are a higher proriority for the body than building new
muscle. As a result, you will need plenty of excess protein for muscle building to take place.
Any muscle building diet will need to account for this. Standard recommendations are anywhere from .8 grams
per pound of bodyweight to 2 grams per pound of bodyweight, depending on a variety of factors.
Any very-low carb diet requires more protein than a high-carb diet. Carbohydrates result in more insulin and
insulin helps your muscle cells absorb both carbs and protein more readily. Low-carb diets require more protein to
meet both caloric needs and because the body does not process protein as efficiently in the absence of
Additionally, as lifters become more advanced, recommended protein levels increase. More muscle mass means there
are more muscle fibers that can be damaged and as a result the trainee needs to eat more protein to make up for
Trained muscle fibers produce more enzymes and are able to process proteins more efficiently than untrained
cells. This allows a trained muscle fiber to use more protein, further increasing the protein needs of advanced
Complete newbies often will grow very rapidly on just 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight as long as they
are eating plenty of calories.
Due to a variety of factors both inside and outside of the cell, muscle cells are poised to absorb more
nutrients during and after lifting weights. As a result, any muscle building diet should recommend taking in a lot
of calories around the workout.
Some programs recommend taking in a lot of calories immediately prior to working out, so that nutrients are in
the bloodstream when exercise is taking place. This is an effective approach if the lifter's performance does not
suffer due high blood sugar.
If you are wanting to build muscle as rapidly as possible, eat a decent-sized meal prior to lifting and then a
very large meal after working out. The meal should be igh in both protein and carbohydrates.
It is also beneficial to sip on a protein shake (perhaps with carbs depending on the lifter's
tolerance) immediately prior to and during the workout.
Just remember, no matter what muscle building diet you choose, be sure you are getting in a surplus of calories,
enough protein, and are eating something around your workout. If you are following these 3 keys, you are guaranteed
to build muscle!
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