To begin, one must know what he should put into his body. Certain foods you see at the grocery may look healthy until you look at the package label. Some are nutrients rich while others have nothing to offer other than junk. Not everyone seems to take the times to look at every ingredient. To stay safe and to obtain the best gains, you should always buy quality foods for your muscle gain diet. Especially if you want to build muscle while staying lean. By quality foods, I mean raws foods and chances are, you will have more energy and better performance at the gym.
Another reason is, not every food digest at the same rate or is the same quality regarding calories. This can really influence your energy level and influence your overall health. I'm not going to detail everything regarding digestion and nutrients. However, I can tell you the best foods you should include in your diet plan.
What Are The Best Foods That Help Build Muscle While Staying Lean?
To gain weight while minimizing fat gain, the best food as a protein source is;
- Poultry (chicken, turkey breast)
- Fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, all kind of fish..)
- Meat (lean beef, lean, pork, veal)
- Egg whites
- Dairy (whey/soy protein, cottage cheese, yogurt, low-fat milk)
as a carbohydrate source;
- Brown rice
- Beans and peas
- Whole grain bread/pasta/cereal
as a fat source;
- Oils (flax, olive, Udo's choice, fish, peanut)
All these foods are naturals, they are going to give you the best energy and health benefits as well as helping you achieve your body transformation more easily.
Does this mean you should never eat processed foods?
No, you still can... However, you should always keep it to a minimum. You could do 90 % of real foods and 10% processed foods. In other words, if you were doing a diet to build muscle, that would be about 2 cheat meals during a week. If you always feel tired or need to take a nap after eating, maybe you should check what you're eating.
What if I find these foods too expensive?
So what? Don't you want the best for your health? Eating craps never helped me pushing hard in the gym or to build muscle while staying lean, to each it's own. There are some alternatives that can greatly reduce your grocery's price though, allowing you to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Also, proteins usually are the most expensive foods but fortunately you don't need to include much of it in your muscle gain diet, you only need about 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
The only time you would eat above that recommendation is maybe when you would be doing an aggressive weight loss diet and that extra protein would help to prevent muscle loss.
Buying in bulk can help you to save some money and making a weight gainer shake as a meal replacement is another way that helps to save quite a lot.
How To Calculate Your Calorie Intake For Your Muscle Gain Diet
The calorie intake varies according to your weight, height, age, gender, and daily activity. First, let's find your resting metabolic rate (RMR):
For men: 66+(13.7 x weight in kg)+(5 x height in cm)-(6.8 x age in years)
For women: 655+(9.6 x weight in kg)+(1.8 x height in cm)-(4.7 x age in years)
Once you have your RMR, you need to find your energy expenditure of physical activity (EEPA), multiply your RMR by:
1.2 if you are sedentary (little or no exercise)
1.375 if you are lightly active (light exercise/sport 1 to 3 days per week)
1.55 if you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3 to 5 days per week)
1.725 if you are very active/perform a heavy exercise (hard exercise/sports 6 to 7 days per week)
Finally, multiply your total by 1.1 because your body burn calories to digest all these foods, it's the thermic effect of a meal (TEM). So RMR+EEPA+TEM = your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Now that you know your calorie intake, you need to know the right macronutrients for each of your meal. Here's something you need to know to do your calculations;
1g of protein = 4 calories
1g of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 g of fat = 9 calories
Begin by finding your daily protein intake which is 0.5 to 0.8g of protein per 1lb of body weight (so if you weight 150lbs it would be 120g of protein daily), then about 30% of your total calorie should come from fat (multiply your total calorie by 0.3, then divide it by 9 to know your daily fat intake).
The rest of your calories are the carbohydrates, so add your calorie from protein to your calorie from fat, subtract it from your total calorie then divide it by 4 and you'll get your carbs intake. Finally, divide your total protein, carbs and fat by 3 to 6 meals for the day.
You'll have to eat more calories than your body burns to put on mass and eat even if you are not hungry. You should expect to gain at least 1 to 2 pounds per week, if you don't gain weight fast enough, just add 200-300 more calories until you gain weight.
A beginner who has never done any workout in his life would gain muscle mass much faster than an advanced trainer (that's what we call the beginner gains). Therefore, that's only in the beginning, after the gains would come at a much slower rate.
Use these calculations only if you are trying to make yourself a muscle building diet and putting on serious mass. However, if you're trying to shred while building muscle, you may want to start at your maintenance calorie intake which can be found by using the calculator in the tool section.
How Important Are The Pre & Post-workout Meals
It's important to have a good pre-workout meal to keep your energy up during your workout and to help you push through your limits.
It may also prevent muscle breakdown by having taken some protein prior to a workout. Some researches have shown that a meal before training may aid post-workout recovery. A pre-workout meal should be consumed about one to two hours before going to the gym to let the food digest a little and to have nutrients available for energy.
Post-workout meals are just as important as your pre-workout meals. The goal when you are training is to force your muscles and to break them down.
Then, after your weight training sessions, your muscles will attempt to rebuild these damaged tissues to become stronger and to be able to deal with such trauma in the future.
That's how you're getting bigger and stronger but something that would help is if you eat the right food after your workout. Your muscles are like a sponge and they absorb everything faster to begin the recovery process. If you're not eating a meal before working out or/and after a workout, this might impact your overall results whether it is in the gym or trying to change your body.
What could happen is, your body may break muscle for energy while trying to recover thus slowing down your overall progress. You have to take this opportunity to help you maximize your muscle gains.
Which food should I eat for pre and post-workout meal?
Your meals will be only protein and carbohydrate because fats don't digest fast enough. Your body needs something that digests faster to deliver nutrients to your muscles when you're working out.
I advise you to take a solid meal before working out like chicken, turkey or fish as a protein source. For carbohydrates, brown rice, whole grain bread/pasta or oatmeal which I find the best carbs for bodybuilding.
After the workout, your body needs fast nutrients to begin to repair your broken muscle tissues, at this time it's best to take protein (whey protein) and carbohydrate (dextrose) in powder form for fast absorption.
A shake with some fruits will do the trick too, as long as you have carbohydrates that digest fast. Also, you don't necessarily need to drink a protein shake immediately after your training session but don't wait too long.
You'd have a higher level of cortisol (a stress hormone) after your workout which accelerates the protein's breakdown into amino acids. You certainly don't want it to breakdown your muscle tissues for its protein source so don't neglect your post-workout meal 😉
How much protein and carbohydrate do I need to eat for pre and post-workout meal?
These two meals will contain more carbohydrate than every other meal of the day to ensure you get enough energy for your exercises and to prevent your body to use protein as your source of energy.
To know how much you'll need, simply divide your weight by 2.2 to find your weight in kilograms, then multiply this number by 1g/kg to find your carbohydrate intake and multiply this number by 0.5 g/kg to find your protein intake (example; if I weight 80kg, it would be 80g of carbs and 40g of protein).
Divide it into two equal portions, half for pre-workout and the other for post-workout. These two meals will count for one meal in the day. You'll have to readjust every other meal (you would need to modify only carbohydrate and fat of other meals) to get your exact macronutrients requirement for the day.
Time Management Tips To Stay On Track
With our busy lives, it is quite hard sometime to prepare meals or just to take the time to eat. Not everyone has the time to cook 3 to 6 times a day to feed their body just for the sake of achieving their fitness goals.
Unfortunately, we only grow when we are outside the gym while we rest so we need to find solutions to manage our time effectively and be able to follow our diet to build muscle. For that matter, you might consider cooking a big batch of meals and then keep it refrigerated so that you can have something ready for your next meals.
Not everyone like it, some people prefer to eat things that they cook the very same day. For that reason, I'd suggest you invest in a good crock pot which will cook your foods slowly thus allowing you to go to work, do your things and come back 4 to 8 hours later to have something ready.
This slow cooker is very helpful, no hassle at all, just throw your foods in there and forget it for a couple of hours. Another good alternative would be to buy muscle meals to have your meals already prepared for the week or even for the month. You can have them macro-balanced for your specific goals which are awesome but the downside is, these meals can get expensive over time.
As mentioned earlier in this post, weight gainer shakes are good for a quick meal replacement. You could also try to make yourself some protein bars with your favorite whey using these bars recipes. There's just no excuse not to follow your muscle building diet when you have all these alternatives.
How To Know Your Water Intake
One thing you should consume in large quantity and never avoid is water. Our body contains a lot of water, approximately 60 to 65% for men and 50% to 60% for women.
You lose water every day through your breath, physical activities, perspiration, and urine. You always get yourself well hydrated especially to;
transport nutrients to all body cells
flushes toxin out of vital organs
reduces sodium buildup
help your kidneys to function properly
help suppresses your appetite
helps maintain muscle tone
help you lose fat
Here are some downsides from not drinking enough water, it might;
lead to dehydration
make you tired
give you muscle cramps
cause water retention
make your muscle weak
Some studies even showed that being fully hydrated increase your strength by 19 %! For that reason alone you should always stay well hydrated. To know your water intake, you would need about 0.013 liters per one pound of body weight.
Finally, having a good nutrition plan will drastically improve your results. It is probably the most important factor in bodybuilding. People sometimes neglect it but if they were paying attention to what they eat, they would see the benefits and see changes quite fast.
I am wondering, is your nutrition is on point? Let me know in the comment section down below.