When it comes to learning how to gain muscle, one of the most important lessons to learn from the very beginning is that a muscle building diet is equally as important as training in the gym correctly. The training time is when you break your muscles down, eating and sleep then recovers them and makes them stronger. For further details, check out this article.
There are some general rules which you should follow when designing a diet to facilitate muscle growth. The first thing you should be aware of is the amount of protein you need per day – generally this is 1g of protein for every 1lb that you weigh. So if you weigh 150lb, you need 150g of protein per day. You also need to think about the amount of calories you consume. To build muscle, ideally you want to have a caloric surplus of at least 500kcal per day. The guideline daily kcal for a grown man is 2,500kcal – so for building muscle you need 3,000kcal at minimum.
Sticking to these rules is not always easy – however, sticking to them is just as important as sticking to your lifting routine. In fact, if you don’t stick to your diet then you are absolutely wasting your time going to the gym. You won’t gain muscle without eating correctly, it’s just the way it is.
I’m not going to give you a specific diet to follow, mostly because I don’t follow a specific diet myself. By that, I mean that I don’t eat the exact same foods on a daily basis – I do however make up my calorie and protein requirements each day, through any combination of food that I choose. If you do it this way too then you are less likely to get tired of your diet, since it is different every day and can be altered on the fly.
What I will do however is give some examples of the different types of food that you should consider with maximum calorie and protein intake in mind.
So, firstly let’s talk about protein since it is arguably more important. Here’s a quick list of some protein-tastic foods along with their protein %’s. Note, this list is not comprehensive, merely a useful starting point from my own experience and tastes. It should also be noted that these %’s are not exact.
- Chicken. 26% protein – e,g 26g protein in every 100g chicken.
- Salmon. 23%
- Milk. 18g per 500ml
- Tuna. 27%
- Beef. 28%
And here’s some ideas to get you started with calorie/carbohydrate rich foods:
- Brown bread.
As I mentioned above these lists are by no means comprehensive. They’re merely a good starting point if you otherwise have no clue what to eat. Go to the shops and check out the calorie/protein details on packs of the types of foods I’ve mentioned as well as other foods that you like. You already know what calorie and protein counts you need to hit on a daily basis, so just build around that in whatever way you choose to create a muscle building diet that’s perfect for you.
A final piece of advice for those of you who find it difficult to eat large amounts of food: drink your calories. Drink milk, and lot’s of it. In 500ml of full fat milk there’s 18g protein and 360kcal – if you have 2l of milk per day that’s 72g protein and 1,440kcal. This is about HALF of the dietary requirements for a man weighing 150lb who wants to gain muscle. This wouldn’t be healthy long term, but certainly very useful for your first few months of bulking up.
There are different diet requirements when it comes time to maintain muscle mass and burn fat, or just maintain your current body weight. These will be discussed in a separate article.