The Ultimate Guide To “What To Eat To Build Muscle” & Nutrition

muscle building food and nutrition

What you’re about to read is what I’ve called “The Ultimate Guide To Muscle Gaining Nutrition“.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question about what to eat to build muscle and when to eat for optimal muscle gain, then this article is for you.

Fair warning:

It’s called the “Ultimate Guide” for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that it’s LONG. So get comfortable.

Second reason is, it’s a complete “brain dump” of virtually EVERYTHING I know to be true about bodybuilding food, nutrition and rapid muscle growth.

Here is what you’re about to learn in this guide:

  1. The Key to Muscular Size
  2. The perfect nutritional ratio
  3. Protein For Maximum Muscle Gains
  4. How much Protein To eat (and when)
  5. Carbohydrates (carbs)
  6. Fats
  7. Supplements

In order to get big, you have to eat big.

Well, in case you don’t know that, I just gave you the key to gaining weight and size.

The key to muscular size is… you simply have to eat more.

This might seem obvious, but you’ll be shocked at the amount of gym rats who pay no attention to eating right at all, then wonder why the F they are making no gains.

You know the guy that’s been going to the gym for a year but never looks any bigger? He’s not eating right.

If that sounds like you, then this guide is going to fix that.

Combined with eating more food, training heavy is the only other area that has as much of an effect on your size and the weight you gain.

So if you get nothing else out of this blog post, please get this:

If your goal is to gain weight and build muscle–you have to eat big and train heavy.

That is as hard and as easy as it gets.

Below is a section on calories, you must take in more calories than you burn off if you want to gain any size at all.

More about this below.

What you are creating is a positive energy balance that increases your muscular bulk fast.

Eating large amounts of food alone can add lean muscle mass to your frame without any exercise at all.

When you consume large amounts of food, your body compensates for this by increasing the levels of anabolic hormones that leads to the increase in muscle.

Also, increasing calories can help blunt cortisol release. Cortisol is a hormone that breaks down muscle tissue and often is released during times of stress (like a low calorie situation).

Okay, if increasing your calories is the key to gaining weight, what should you be taking in for food?

After years of studying many different natural bodybuilders and other top athletes, the number that seemed to be floating around often for the Protein-Carb-Fat Ratio were 50% protein, 40% carbs, and 10% fat.

protein carb and fat ratio chart for muscle growth

I’ve used that ratio with great success, whether I was training in the off-season or getting ready for a show.

Understand the importance of each of these nutrients and you’ll likely see why these numbers were given in this ratio.

Protein For Muscle Gains

Protein is the #1 required nutrient for fast muscle growth (other than water)

In fact, protein is the building block of muscle.

We will discuss a little more later, but the most important times to consume protein are:

1. Immediately upon wakening–you have just gone a lengthy time during sleep without protein, you need to get protein to your muscles ASAP.

2. Immediately after working out–your muscles are like sponges and will use the protein to replenish what was lost during a workout.

If you fail to take in enough protein, your body does not have enough of the raw material to build muscle mass.

Nutritionally speaking, protein consumption is the only way to increase muscle mass. Protein provides the much needed amino acids (see this article about post workout nutrition) to maintain an anabolic (muscle building) state.

So half of what you eat in a day should come from protein sources.

Drinking a post-workout recovery shake IMMEDIATELY after training gives you a prime opportunity to speed up muscle recuperation and stimulate new muscle growth.

Don’t wait until you get home, start sipping immediately after your last set.

I actually begin sipping my post-workout drink during the last few sets.

The fact is, what you eat (or fail to eat) before and immediately after your intense training plays a huge role in how much muscle you build and how strong you get.

If you provide your muscles with a pool of amino acids (protein) about 30 to 45 minutes before a workout, you can reduce the effects of muscle tissue breakdown.

Since training depletes nutrients and energy stored in your muscle cells, you can help replenish these nutrients faster by introducing a carb and protein rich meal directly after training.

If I had to pick a third most important time, it would be late at night, right before bed.

During sleep you are going to be without protein for 6 to 8 hours or however long you sleep.

Consuming a protein source right before bed can help lessen the effects on muscle breakdown during sleep.

Another time to consider taking protein would be an hour before working out to provide amino acids to enhance exercise performance.

By this point, I hope you’re fully aware you have to take protein and take it often!!

How much protein is needed to Stimulate Muscle Growth?

One simple method that’s been around for years that I feel still holds true is to shoot for 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.

If you weigh 200 pounds, you eat 200 grams.

Larger or more experienced bodybuilders could possibly benefit from 2 grams per pound of bodyweight, but for the most part, 1 gram per pound is sufficient.

But as long as you strive to eat some good quality lean protein during each meal and snack, you shouldn’t have any problem getting enough protein in your diet.

PROTEIN SOURCES (50% of Calories)

FISH (TUNA, SALMON, HADDOCK, COD, PERCH, ORANGE ROUGHY), TURKEY, CHICKEN, LEAN RED MEATS (TOP ROUND, FLANK STEAK, LEAN GROUND BEEF), DAIRY PRODUCTS (LOW-FAT/NON-FAT COTTAGE CHEESE, SKIM MILK, LOW-FAT/NON-FAT YOGURT), EGGS, LIVER, SOYBEANS, NUTS, LEGUMES, LEAN HAM, LEAN PORK, SHELLFISH, SCALLOPS, LAMB, TOFU, PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS (WHEY, EGG, MILK, SOY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS)

Carbohydrates (Carbs)

Carbohydrates play a vitally important role in the body. Carbs are the body’s main fuel source (actually, the glucose that carbs are broken down into)

Carbs can be broken down into 2 groups–simple and complex.

Simple carbs include sugars, syrups, honey, and fruit.

Complex carbs are grains, vegetables, rice, and legumes.

When Should You Eat Carbs?

It is important to eat complex carbs throughout the day leading up to your workout to keep a nice and steady flow of energy to the body.

Immediately after a workout is the most important time to consume simple carbs like grape juice or Gatorade.

When you eat a carbohydrate source, your body breaks it down into blood sugar, which it uses for energy.

If you fail to give your body enough carbohydrates, your body has to look elsewhere for energy stores and will likely target muscle tissue as a source.

The most important time of day for a bodybuilder or person looking to gain muscle weight to consume carbohydrates is immediately after a workout.

Your muscle stores of glycogen are extremely low after training and need to be replenished.

I’ve had great luck consuming a protein source mixed in with a carbohydrate drink like apple or grape juice or Gatorade right after a workout.

I usually then take another or a meal replacement shake a half hour to an hour after that.

CARBOHYDRATE SOURCES (40% of Calories)

BROWN RICE, WHOLE GRAIN BREADS & CEREALS, BAGELS, OATMEAL, PASTA, POTATOES, YAMS, VEGETABLES (CARROTS, BROCCOLI, GREEN BEANS, CORN,), LEGUMES (CHICK PEAS, LIMA, KIDNEY, AND SOYBEANS), CREAM-OF-WHEAT, PRETZELS.

The Importance of Fats

Finally fats should account for 10% of your daily calories (in all reality, unless you are very strict at counting calories, will be a bit more)

If you are pretty lean or have a fast and active metabolism, you may want to shoot for 20% of your calories coming from fat sources.

But believe me, even when I suggest the 10% number, more often than not, the number ends up being higher anyways.

So anywhere between 10% and 20% is fine.

Some fats are essential for optimum health.

Fats are found in cell and body structures, serve as a protective substance and also are essential for metabolic processes.

Fats play a very important role in the body’s health, but most people simply get too many.

Too much fat will make you fat.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m going to assume you want to gain quality muscle weight and not just a bunch of fat weight.

Pizza and beer every night will definitely help you gain weight, but is it the kind of weight you want to gain?

I know of several bodybuilders that get good results using Flax Seed Oil, CLA, or Borage Oil in their diets.

FAT SOURCES (10% of Calories)

OLIVE OIL, PEANUTS, PEANUT BUTTER, ALMONDS, SAFFLOWER OIL, SUNFLOWER OIL, WALNUTS, FLAX SEED OIL, BORAGE OIL, AVACADOES, FISH OILS (SALMON), CLA (CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID)

The ONE Thing You Must Understand…

Nutrition is the one area that will have a lot of influence on how much muscle and quality weight you add to your frame.

In fact, nutrition is probably even a little more important than weight training when it comes to packing on quality weight.

Your nutrition is the raw material, the building blocks of what your body will become.

Eat well and supply your body with adequate amounts of quality nutrients and you will soon be gaining as much weight as you want to.

In this article you’ll discover daily calorie amount, so we will focus more on types of food to consume when trying to add muscle and size.

When you have figured out your daily calorie total from above, take that number and divide it by 6.

Why 6?

Because that’s the number of times you should be eating a day.

You can make it 5 or 7 times instead, but the big thing is, you want to be eating often and well.

The more times you supply your body with quality nutrients, the more your body can use these nutrients for muscle growth and repair.

Become what is known as a “grazer” meaning you eat small meals throughout the day.

Frequent meals help regulate blood sugar and also keep a constant supply of amino acids available for quick muscle growth.

Muscle Hydration

Another key area to consider in the area of nutrition is getting enough water.

Try to consume one to two gallons of clean water a day.

Your body must remain hydrated to maximize your nutrition and training program.

Water flushes toxins from the body and helps in the muscle utilization of certain essential vitamins.

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