For building muscle mass & gaining muscle strength, working out and weight training are not enough.

As a matter of fact, change in any type of body composition such as building muscle mass and/or losing fat depends on as much, if not more, on your diet as it does on your regular workout regime.  

Usually people who are trying to get lean muscles or stronger muscles or just bulk up hopped in a gym and start lifting, and that’s of course good.   

But what in fact equally important is to focus just as much on their diet. They need to eat protein, carbs & fat (macronutrients) in right proportions plus proper calorie intake, and also avoid certain specific foods. 

Muscle growth occurs slowly. However, with the right diet, they will achieve their strength & muscle size goals sooner. 

In this article, you will find (i) What food & how much to eat to build muscle (ii) What foods you should avoid; & (iii) my list of 15 foods that provide you best protein, complex carbs & fat. 

What to Eat to Build Muscle That Gives Better Results 

If you’re looking to get muscles that are stronger and bigger, working out is no doubt play an important role. Strength/Weight/Resistance training breaks down muscle tissues, then during recovery process the broken tissues rebuild bigger and stronger.  

But, the body can’t construct those new muscle tissues out of nothing. To make gains one has to have the right nutrients available in his/her body to construct muscles. 

In simple words what we eat, and how much, is critical for making muscle gains. On the other hand lifting & performing weight training without enough nutrition, particularly without adequate protein, can rather results in to muscle loss. 

Moreover, if we are NOT eating right we won’t have the required energy to perform the workouts in order to gain muscles. 

To Build Muscle Size & Mass And Gain Strength We require:

(i) Adequate amount of calories, every day; and

(ii) Enough protein to reconstruct more muscle tissues. 

Even if we gobble a lot of protein but not adequate overall calories, we will have to struggle to be able to exercise & workout so as to gain more muscle. 

Even if we intake adequate calories but too much of junk food and not sufficient protein, our body won’t be able to repair & create muscle tissues and will instead gain fat. 

How Much to Eat When You Are Building Muscle

When you are trying to build muscle mass, your body requires more energy (calories) than when it’s just maintaining body composition. It may be difficult for you to accept this concept. So, many individuals may defy this concept, particularly those who are worried about gaining fat/weight. 

The fact is that the extra calories intake will be used for muscle building, and not fat, provided you are working out in the right way.

However, how many calories a person needs in a day when working out & for muscle development actually varies.

Though, each individual’s calorie needs during a muscle-building period vary – but usually, an addition of extra 20 to 30 grams per day is a generally accepted good thumb rule. 

Protein—Essential For Building Blocks For Muscle Gains

To keep you healthy & fit during any type of workout plan, you should eat a nutrient-dense, balanced diet. But, when one focus on building muscles size, getting sufficient protein becomes most important. 

While in case of fairly sedentary individuals protein needs are less, but for active individuals, particularly those trying to gain muscle mass, it is important to have a closer look at their actual protein intake and make adjustments when necessary. Given here under are some general recommendations from research, sports science and nutrition organizations:

(i) For sedentary persons, approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is adequate. That would translate to: For a 150-pound individual – about 55 grams of protein in a day.

(ii) For active individuals, the American College of Sports Medicine as well as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This would translate to: About 95 to 136 grams of protein daily for an individual having 150 pounds weight.

(iii) A more recent study that analysed forty-nine other studies observed that the required amount of protein in a day for building muscle is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. This would translate to: For a 150-pound individual – about 109 grams of protein in a day.

Why, how and what to eat to meet your protein needs – whether you are a non-vegetarian, vegetarian or vegan, man or woman – A most comprehensive Protein Guide!: Protein Synthesis / Myths & Facts

Don’t Forget Carbohydrates

When one focus on protein intake, he or she is likely to overlook the other macronutrient needs. Keeping a balance is necessary, and carbs are particularly essential to fuel the hard workouts – which in turn help muscle growth. 

Human body struggles to absorb carbohydrates more than thirty five grams in one sitting, so each meal or snack should include protein as well along with carbs & a little bit of fat. 

While fat is important, but it’s not as necessary to keep its track. If we are eating adequate protein & carbs, it’s very likely that adequate fat is already present in our diet. Moreover, as fat can be easily stored in human body, so it’s not likely to be deficient. 

Selecting Foods For Muscle Mass & Size

You need to eat right foods that help fuel muscle growth. In addition to lean proteins, you also require foods that are rich in complex carbs and micronutrients. 

15 Best Protein-Rich Foods With Complex Carbohydrates

Here are 15 high-quality protein-rich foods, which also contain other nutrients. Make sure that you eat a variety of protein sources to get all the essential amino acids:

(i) Eggs:One egg contains about 6 grams of high quality protein along with healthy fats & B vitamins. 

(ii) Chicken: Opt for chicken breast for a lean protein source. Three ounces provides about 26 grams. 

(iii) Lean Beef: Beef is a great protein option as long as you go for lean cuts. It also provides creatine, which can improve athletic performance & has other health benefits too.

(iv) Cottage cheese: Depending on the type you eat, cottage cheese can provide you with as much as twenty-five grams of protein per serving, and calcium.

(v) Salmon: This fatty fish is one of the few options, which are high in both protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which may help you gain muscle mass.

(vi) Tuna: This is another fish option that provides good amount of protein, which you can include in your meal or eat as a snack. It contains about twenty grams of protein in 3 ounces plus a lot of vitamins. 

(vi) Beans: Kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and other beans varieties are a good lean protein source – about fifteen grams per cup. They also provide a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals. 

(vii) Tofu: Made up of from soybeans, it is a great source of protein for vegan & vegetarians and is rich in calcium also.

(viii)Tempeh: A kind of fermented soybean product. It’s less processed than tofu & thus retains more micronutrient. It’s also an option for vegan & vegetarians. 

(ix) Greek Yogurt:Yogurt is an ideal smoothie ingredient & great snack too, but opt for Greek yogurt for more protein.

(x) Quinoa: This perhaps is one the best out of all the common grains. This ancient grain provides about 8 grams of protein per cup plus 40 grams of complex carbs.

(xi) Brown Rice: Brown rice is unrefined, unlike white rice, thus it has more nutrients & protein. 

(xii) Peanuts: This nut-like legume contains as much as seventeen grams of protein per half-cup.

(xiii) Nuts and Seeds:  Include a variety of nuts & seeds in your diet, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and others for good amount of protein, carbohydrates, & micronutrients.

(xiv) Protein Powders: Whereas whole foods are always the best source, but for those who are not getting their daily protein needs, protein powders can be a good choice to get extra grams of protein each day. Whey-based powder is a great option, and pea protein powder is for vegans. 

Useful Related Post: Protein Supplements Dos & Don’ts

To Build Muscle Mass Also Avoid The Following Junk

When you are trying to gain muscle size without adding fat to your body, getting the appropriate balance of calories & nutrients is important. So, you need to avoid so-called empty calories. That is, you must keep away from junk food. 

In addition to eating protein-rich foods & complex carbs such as quinoa & brown rice, you should make sure to meet the rest of the day’s calories from mostly vegetables. Some fruit is also a good choice, particularly prior to a workout.

Moreover, you should avoid the following kinds of foods because they will not contribute to any muscle gain:

(a)  Alcohol: These really are empty calories with almost nil nutritional value. Also, drinking alcohol can upset your work schedule the following day. 

(b) Added Sugars: Natural sugar from fruits and vegetables is enough to fuel your workouts. Added sugars in processed drinks/foods only increase fat gains.

(c) Fried and Processed Foods: These types of foods, the so-called junks, may have some protein – but the fats & additives therein can enhance inflammation and contribute to putting on fat, not muscle.

Useful Related Post: Why & How Much Protein You Need 

Building muscle mass & size is a long-term goal. To put on muscle mass, you need to have an effective workout plan along with a healthy, protein-rich diet.

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