If you want to build muscle mass, it is essential to have a well-designed nutrition plan. After all, your body needs adequate fuel to sustain workouts and stimulate muscle growth.

This post will discuss the key elements of a successful diet for muscle gain, including the types of foods you should consume, the ideal macronutrient distribution, and the importance of meal timing. Let’s dive in and explore how you can fuel your body to achieve amazing muscle growth!

Focus on protein

When it comes to building muscle, protein is king. It provides the building blocks called amino acids that your body uses to rebuild and grow muscle tissue.

To achieve maximum muscle growth, you should aim to consume around 0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, you should consume at least 90 grams of protein daily.

Beginners should actually try to take in about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for the first six months of training, as this is when your muscles will respond fastest to training.

It is recommended that protein comes mainly from lean animal proteins such as chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, dairy, as well as plant sources such as beans, lentils and tofu.

Take a look at our article on how much protein per day is normal.

Do not stop the intake of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap, but they are critical for muscle growth. This macronutrient provides the energy needed for workouts and helps replenish glycogen stores in muscles after exercise. In addition, consuming carbohydrates with protein after exercise can help improve protein synthesis, leading to greater muscle growth.

Eat about 2-3 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight every day.

Aim to consume a mixture of complex and simple carbohydrates throughout the day, emphasizing whole, unprocessed sources such as whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta), fruits (apples, bananas, berries, oranges), vegetables (sweet potatoes, peas, beans, leafy greens), beans, lentils, chickpeas.

Don’t avoid fat

Natural foods rich in protein

About 20% – 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat. Five to ten percent of your fat calories should be saturated, as higher-fat diets (especially those high in monounsaturated and saturated fats) support testosterone levels better than low-fat diets.

Choose red meats like steak and ground beef for your saturated fats (they also provide quality protein); avocados, mixed nuts, olive oil, olives and peanut butter for monounsaturated fats; oily fish (salmon, trout, catfish), flaxseed oil and walnuts as good sources of essential, omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.

Distribution of macronutrients

Now that we’ve covered the importance of each macronutrient, let’s discuss the ideal ratio for muscle growth. Although individual needs may vary, a general guideline is to aim for the following distribution:

  • 40-50% carbohydrates;
  • 25-30% protein;
  • 25-30% fat.

Use these percentages as a starting point and adjust them as necessary depending on your body’s response to the food plan.

“For” calories

To build muscle, consume 20 calories per kilogram of body weight per day. You need to maintain a positive calorie balance (taking in more calories than you burn) to gain quality mass.

If you burn more calories than you consume (negative balance), your body will go into energy conservation mode and will not support new muscle growth.

Eat often

Consume a meal that contains quality protein and carbohydrates every 2-3 hours to ensure a steady supply of energy and amino acids for muscle growth throughout the day.

The key is to make each meal approximately the same size. If your lunch is rich and consists of 1,200 calories, you probably won’t be hungry 2-3 hours later and will start gaining unwanted weight. The reason would be that the excess calories that the body can process at a given time are stored as body fat.

Aim for at least six meals a day with meals around 600-700 calories each.

Check out our article“14 Protein Rich Foods“.

Protein shakes – the key to success

Whey protein

Take at least 20 grams of protein in the form of a protein shake before and after exercise. It’s considered a supplement, but we like to think of it as an important food to be consumed at critical times during the day (like 30 minutes right before a workout).

To prepare for the next training session and to start the muscle recovery process, drink a shake with 20 grams of whey protein or a mixture of whey and casein along with about 40 grams of slow-digesting carbohydrate (fruit, whole-grain bread and oatmeal).

Then, in the 60-minute interval immediately after the workout, drink another 20-40 grams of protein shake and consume 60-100 grams of faster digesting carbohydrates (bread or potatoes, say).
The best protein for muscle mass is one that is composed of high-quality raw materials and tastes great. Try Active Choice protein shakes.

You can also read our article about the benefits of protein powder.

Eat the right carbs at the right time

As suggested above, eat slow carbs 30 minutes before your workout and mainly fast carbs after your workout. Research shows that when athletes eat slower digesting carbohydrates, they not only have more energy and less fatigue during exercise, but they burn more fat and experience less hunger throughout the day.

After your workout, choose fast-digesting carbohydrates like white bread, pretzels or a baked potato. This will increase levels of the anabolic hormone insulin, which drives carbohydrates into muscle cells where they will be stored as glycogen needed for your next workout.

Insulin also helps amino acids to enter muscle cells. It is critical for the delivery of creatine to the muscles and increases protein synthesis (one of the main processes supporting muscle growth).

Have a snack before bedtime

Take 30-40 grams of a casein protein shake or 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese every night before bed, as well as 2-3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil, raw nut mix or 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter.

When you sleep, you actually fast for 7-9 hours. In the absence of food, the body turns to your muscle fibers for amino acids to fuel your brain.

For anyone who wants to gain muscle mass, this is not good. The solution is not to sleep less, but rather to eat the right foods right before bed. Slowly absorbed proteins and healthy fats are the best solution. These foods help slow digestion and provide a steady supply of amino acids, thus minimizing your body’s tendency to use up your muscles.

Include creatine

Include 3-5 grams of creatine in your pre- and post-workout protein shakes. Many scientists, doctors and nutritionists agree that creatine works great for most athletes, regardless of age or gender. After hundreds of studies conducted on the supplement, the consensus is that it is not only effective but also safe.

Taking creatine in monohydrate, ethyl ester, or other form can help you gain up to 10 pounds of lean muscle mass, increase your strength in the gym by 10%, and achieve significantly greater inflation during your workout.

Take beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)

Bodybuilder in the gym

Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate is a naturally produced substance by the body that can also be taken as a dietary supplement for its role in muscle growth.

HMB can be taken with food in the morning, before and after exercise, and at bedtime during the first three months on a new training regimen. HMB prevents muscle breakdown and stimulates muscle growth, especially in beginner exercisers.

Building muscle mass requires not only intense workouts, but also a well-planned nutritional strategy. By focusing on consuming enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, you can provide your body with the fuel it needs to sustain muscle growth.

Be sure to pay attention to meal timing and adjust macronutrient ratios as needed. With the right diet to gain muscle mass, you will achieve your goals.

If you were interested, check out our other blog articles where we share lots of useful information related to protein and healthy eating.