It is common to find both men and women who are highlighting their struggles to shed some kilos. There is, however, an equally massive number of people who face hurdles in their efforts to increase muscle mass. We will tell you everything you need to know about muscle building diet.
The ‘hard gainer’ scenario could be the result of various factors, but one thing you could do to easily achieve your desired weight is to adjust your menu to a diet that is best for muscle building. If you are feeling too skinny and are at a loss on which weight gaining procedures to follow, do not fret. Use this comprehensive post for your guide.
Improving Your Figure With A Muscle Building Diet
The basic structure of an effective muscle building diet plan is quite simple. You just have to ingest more calories than those burned on your day-to-day activities. This is especially true for those whose bodies have a high metabolism or regularly take part in vigorous exercise and as such risk placing themselves in calorie deficits if they fail to address the imbalance.
If you are wondering how many calories your body burns each day, you can use any one of the calorie calculators available online to give you a picture of where you are at. With this knowledge in hand, you will then be able to come up with a dietary plan which should aid you in credible gains.
Read More: Back Workouts Without Weights: Game-Changing Routine That’ll Put Your Back Muscles To Work
Foods That Form An Effective Muscle-Building Diet
What is the best diet for building muscle? Here are some of the best foods to aid weight gain and muscle growth in a healthy way:
Home-made protein smoothies are not only cherished for their nutritional value but also their quick weight gain propensities.
Most commercial concoctions contain lots of sugar, lacking even minimal nutritional value. Therefore, it is advisable to come up with your own drink and have full control over the available nutrients and flavor.
All the mentioned smoothies can be calibrated to offer approximately 400 – 600 calories. In addition, you are getting high quantities of proteins alongside other crucial minerals and vitamins.
People have relied on this substance for weight gain or muscle building for ages. Milk maintains a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Furthermore, it is a healthy source of numerous minerals, vitamins, and calcium.
Milk in a diet can be beneficial for anyone trying to grow their muscle mass since it provides helpful whey proteins and casein. Combined with some weight training, this liquid can give great results if you are hoping to build muscle.
Gulp about two glasses of this precious drink before any workout sessions and you see if you won’t achieve great results.
Those struggling to build their muscles can find rice to be convenient and pocket-friendly. Only a cup of cooked rice (about 165 grams) is enough to provide 190 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates with minimal fat levels. Choose brown rice over white for its fiber and additional nutrients.
Rice is relatively dense in calories (7). This means you can consume lots of calories and carbohydrates from a reasonable serving. Given this, you are able to consume the right quantity even if your appetite is poor, or your stomach fills fast.
When you are in a hurry, you can just add a two-minute pack of microwavable rice to another protein source or pre-made meal. You may also like to consider preparing enough rice for the week in a large pot, combining some healthy fats and proteins.
If you are struggling to grow your muscle mass, then protein bars could come in handy as they increase the amount of calories and proteins you consume. Both qualities are essential since the body requires them in tandem to develop lean muscle.
High-calorie bars are available in many locations, even in your local drug store where you can find them in the fitness supplements section. While some may consider them as a less preferred option to protein shakes, a protein bar will leave you feeling full faster if it contains a larger proportion of protein.
While these bars may be useful, they should not be consumed as a meal replacement since it’s not possible to get the right quantity of calories needed. You can though, always carry them with you for a snack after workouts.
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Another incredible option for those seeking to build muscles is to consume nuts or nut butter. Seeds and nuts have high components of polyunsaturated fats known to provide healthy calories. You can eat them roasted by the handful or alternatively sprinkle chopped nuts on your salad or ice cream. Some of the best options include almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, and walnuts (12).
Sometimes, for many reasons, you may not be that keen with munching on nuts. In this case, you could pack in additional calories by consuming nut butter instead. Just one tablespoon, for instance, can contain about 100 calories. You may also add your nut butter to a range of dishes or snacks, including smoothies and yogurts.
This ranks among the most reliable muscle-building foods due to the nutritional value. Every six ounces of steak (or 170 grams), for instance, is known to contain about 3-4 grams of leucine (6). This is the most crucial amino acid required by the body for protein synthesis and the growth of muscle tissue. As an added benefit, red meat is among the best sources of natural dietary creatine, an effective muscle building nutrient (3). To consume more calories and grow your weight, you might go for fatty cuts as opposed to lean meat.
In a particular study, a hundred elderly ladies participated in a resistance training regimen (2 times per week) and randomized to receive either a control diet or a diet including 160 g lean red meat 6 days per week (9).
After four months, the lean red meat group experienced greater gains in lean body mass and muscle strength than the control group. The meat group also experienced greater increases in insulin-like growth factor I and greater decreases in IL-6 (an inflammatory marker) than the control group.
Oily Fish And Salmon
Similar to red meat, these two alternatives are excellent at ensuring a constant supply of healthy fats and protein, crucial for muscle building. Meals of salmon or other oily fish offer a wide variety of important nutrients, but it’s the omega-3 fatty acids which are the most crucial due to their numerous benefits to the immune system and muscle metabolism (8).
A 6-ounce salmon fillet offers about 4 grams of the crucial fatty acids alongside 350 calories. This serving also provides about 30 grams of essential protein for muscle weight gain (1).
Potatoes And Starch
Foods high in starch like potatoes are not only economical, but they also offer a cheap alternative to other sources if you wish to gain some additional calories. Besides just aiding weight gain, starchy foods can also contribute to the increase of the muscle glycogen reserves, a predominant energy source for sports and other physical activities.
Most of the starchy sources are also known to offer a range of crucial nutrients, fiber, and resistant starch (11). All these can effectively nourish gut bacteria.
You can additionally boost your body calories by consuming a handful (or two) of dried fruit. Compared to their fresh counterparts, the dried versions are smaller in volume. This enables you to consume more at once without ending up with a stuffed stomach.
A cup of raisins, for instance, contains over 400 calories. This is way above the roughly 100 calories that a similar quantity of fresh grapes can offer (10). While these may be the most popular dried fruit alternative, there really is no limit to the number of options you have to choose from. Other healthy muscle building dried fruits include apricots, tropical fruits, cranberries, and apples.
Another way to easily increase some additional calories is by simply ingesting some extra oils. This does carry a caveat, as you have to be certain that you only take in the fats and oils that are healthy and beneficial to your body. Among others, olive oil contains high quantities of healthy monounsaturated fats (5).
One useful practice to supplement calories is for adding flavor to vegetables, pasta, or bread. Another excellent source of healthy fats is canola oil. It is rich in omega-3 and other monosaturated fats, which make it a tremendous, all-purpose kitchen oil. As a reminder, you may want to select only high-quality, cold-pressed and organic oils as some believe that these provide the maximum nutritional benefits.
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This is yet another excellent source of monosaturated fatty acids. These fruits also nourish your body with potassium, fiber, and vitamin K. Considering that an avocado contains over 200 calories, you can regularly consume it to boost your intake of calories (2).
One great thing about avocado is that it can be combined with a variety of other healthy alternatives. For instance, you can add chopped slices to a sandwich or create a guacamole to be served alongside baked tortilla chips.
Foods To Avoid When Building Muscle
As you try to adopt a healthy diet and maximize your gym results, there are several foods that you should scrap from your diet for building muscle. They include:
As disappointing as it may seem, you must give up one of the most popular health vices: booze. Of course, a beer here and there won’t kill you or deter your muscle-building process. However, it is in your best interest to shy away from consuming any alcoholic beverages. Alcohol interferes with the natural muscle-building processes as well as recovery time and deposits empty calories in your body.
It is not easy to avoid that bacon, sausage, or hot dog. But if you are really focused on getting in shape, then you probably should rethink your choices. True, you definitely need to incorporate lots of lean, healthy proteins, but none of these can be gotten from any processed meat choices. In fact, consuming such meat is quite disadvantageous overall. You could select healthier, more effective muscle building alternatives like fish, turkey, or grilled chicken.
Soda And Candy
Definitely a no-brainer, but as a helpful reminder you should keep off the sweets. Sodas, candy, and other types in this realm have zero benefits to your body. These just offer empty calories without any nutritional value to your body, so skipping them works in your favor.
Bread, scones, and muffins are all very deceiving and tasty foods that most people begin their days with. But what most fail to realize is the massive amount of sugar and refined carbs they contain, all of which cannot be helpful to any person striving to achieve a leaner body with more muscles. These instead can be great alternatives when you are bulking and need to cut some weight.
Just like sweets, you can’t stop after munching that first chip, but by staying away you can achieve your best results when building muscles. It’s best if you avoid crackers and chips in the first place. Whenever you feel hungry in the office, you could chew on healthier alternatives like fruit, beef jerky, or a protein bar.
This is a favorite for most, but it contains high amounts of sugar, calories, and fat which then place it as an undesirable choice for those building muscle. Consuming refined sugars such as corn syrup and saturated fats as ingredients makes it even worse. If you ingest two or three cups in a sitting as most people do, you will surpass the recommended daily intake, and this will not help in muscle building.
The Pros And Cons Of Gaining Muscle Mass
Before carrying on with your plan, it is crucial that you understand how advantageous or disadvantageous the process can be. Here are the benefits of increasing your muscle mass:
- It prevents the body from harm by increasing resistance to injuries.
- Increasing your muscle mass boosts fertility in women.
- It leads to a more active lifestyle.
- Increasing your muscle mass improves your health.
- It improves your self-esteem to some extent.
Building muscles also can have its setbacks. They include:
- If you stop exercising you might end up being overweight
- Can lead to muscle tear and injury especially when lifting too much weight.
From the above information, it is evident that a well-managed muscle-building strategy brings with it more good than harm.
Read More: Muscular Endurance Exercises: Get in Fighting Shape With These Muscle-Blasting Moves
Crucial Tips When Creating A Muscle-Building Plan
The following tips can be helpful:
To grow your muscle weight, you must consume food in greater quantities than the amount burnt in the body. Besides, how fast you burn calories depends on your metabolism, age, physical activity and quantity of food eaten (4). Increasing the number of healthy meals per day will give your body the energy and nutrients needed to achieve massive gains.
Caloric-Dense Meals Are The Best
Diets with high levels of fats or carbohydrates provide more calories for each serving. To create the needed caloric surplus, look at how you can eat less, but heavy. This means that you have to focus on meals like whole wheat pasta, dried fruits, or nuts.
More And More Proteins
Proteins are necessary for the body as they aid in the recovery and growth of muscles after strenuous exercise. So for each meal you will want to consume a whole protein source. This may include fish, chicken, or eggs, as well as plant proteins.
Take In More Fluids
It is easier to digest blended food, compared to when you’ve eaten a solid meal. To get it right, you can create your own weight gaining shakes through a range of mixtures. These may include blending a mixture of milk, peanuts, bananas, and whey protein.
Track Your Body Calories
If you are skinny, chances are you tend to overestimate the food you consume. You may tend to believe that you eat a lot when you are actually depriving yourself. For accuracy, always keep a record of your calorie intake, ensuring that what you eat can facilitate weight gain.
Do Some Heavy Lifting
To grow your muscle weight significantly, you will need to get rid of curls and flies in your training schedule. Instead, you should begin with free weight sets such as squats or deadlifts. Not only do they trigger additional strength, but they also aid muscle gain that can lead to increased muscle mass.
Consistency Works Wonders
You cannot devour a fat burning muscle building diet on a particular day, then go back to your previous eating habits and expect to grow your body mass. For the best results, you need to keep to a menu that involves ingesting more than you consume.
The Best Diet For Building Muscle: The Effective Meal Plan
There is no standard meal plan for building muscle, but you can try out different types of essential foods in your daily recipe for best results.
Here are some of the foods to consider for different times of the day:
One of the most important weight-gain meals to eat for breakfast would be milk combined with any form of carbohydrates or starchy foods. Alternatively, you can whip up your desired fruit shake and combine it with an avocado omelet. Here are some breakfast ideas.
- Coffee, whey protein, and raspberries
- Mango and peach smoothie alongside a hard-boiled egg
- Maple-nut granola and a glass of milk
- An apple, low-fat cheese, and an omelet (two eggs).
This should be slightly heavier and requires you to adopt a high-calorie recipe. You can go for creamy or chunky soups, starch-filled veggies, and generous proportions of protein. Here are some incredible ideas of a healthy lunch:
- Balsamic chicken salad
- Jerk pork tenderloin and juice
- Pork dumplings with guacamole
- Chicken fajitas with mango salsa.
You should be free to eat snacks anytime throughout the day, particularly between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. They can also be useful during those days when large meals overwhelmed your appetite. Take a look at these healthy snacks:
- Yogurt, berries, and whey protein
- Protein bars and fruits
- Peanut butter and rice cake
- Protein pancakes
Just like lunch, your dinner should supply your body with proteins and starch in high proportions. These tasty recipe ideas can be a good start:
- A bowl of bean burritos and steak
- Turkey lettuce wraps
- Caprese chicken salad (preferably baked)
- Salmon burger
- Shrimp scampi
How Much Fat Should I Eat On A Muscle-Building Diet?
Well, most people who are working to gain weight usually rely on the standard rule that requires them to consume about 3,500 calories per pound of body weight. Most believe that a daily 500 calorie surplus can lead to a pound of body mass gained every week. However, it is not quite clear how accurate the rule is or how effective it can be for those who are trying to create a weight-gain plan.
It’s possible that an additional daily intake of 500 calories alongside snacks and foods filled with lots of energy can work. This should provide the necessary nutrients that aid weight gain.
For the muscle building diet plan to be a success, you can consume smaller meal quantities more frequently all through the day. To supplement your calorie intake without the associated bulk, add toppings. These may include chopped nuts, gravies, or ranch dressing.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for the diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Atlantic Salmon Nutrition Data (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Avocado Nutrition Data (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- CREATINE (2018, webmd.com)
- Does The Rate Of Burning Calories Affect How You Lose Weight? (2017, webmd.com)
- How do you gain weight quickly and safely? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Leucine Elicits Myotube Hypertrophy And Enhances Maximal Contractile Force In Tissue Engineered Skeletal Muscle In Vitro (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Nutritional And Functional Properties Of Coloured Rice Varieties Of South India: A Review (2019, journalofethnicfoods.biomedcentral.com)
- Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits And Endpoints In Sport (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Protein-Enriched Diet, With The Use Of Lean Red Meat, Combined With Progressive Resistance Training Enhances Lean Tissue Mass And Muscle Strength And Reduces Circulating IL-6 Concentrations In Elderly Women: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Raisins Nutrition Data (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Resistant Starch: Promise For Improving Human Health (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Best (and Worst) Foods for Building Muscle (2017, theactivetimes.com)