Just as many people are self-conscious about being overweight, others are self-conscious about being too skinny. Of course, it’s mostly men who fall into the latter category. Some guys are naturally skinny and want to put on muscle weight. These people are often termed “hardgainers” in the bodybuilding community. I was a hardgainer at one point, especially during my high school years. It took me many years to finally realize that to gain muscle, you need to follow a bodybuilding meal plan on top of your strength training routine.
Eating for Lean Muscle Gains
For a bodybuilding physique, you have to eat like a bodybuilder. In addition to healthy eating, you also have to eat more than your body burns. This will ensure that you put on as much muscle as possible while preventing fat gain or keeping it to a minimum.
You’re going to have to get used to eating A LOT, especially on your training days.
How Much You Need to Eat
You need to go above the average daily recommended calorie allowance. If you’re just starting out, and you’re more concerned about muscle gain than fat loss, then I recommend starting at 20x your body weight in calories (For example if you weigh 170lbs you would consume 3400 calories per day. During a muscle building phase I suggest you limit – but not completely forgo – HIIT cardio training to three times per week. This prevents too much fat accumulation without compromising muscle gains.
At the end of every week, measure your body with a tape measure. I suggest measuring your chest, waist, biceps, thighs and calves. As long as you see gains, continue to consume the same amount of calories. If not, then increase the calories by 300-500 per day. If a 500-calorie increase is too much for you or you're gaining too much fat, then stick to 300.
What to Eat
Your body needs fuel in order to build muscle, and it needs an ample amount of protein, carbs, and fat. I don’t recommend low carbs if muscle building is your main goal since your muscles need it for energy. I would suggest a ratio of 50% protein, 25%-35% carbs, and 15%-25% fat.
When it comes to food choice, avoid empty calories and junk food. Training hard in the gym is not a license to eat whatever you want. Foods need to be nutrient-dense without preservatives like trans-fatty acids or high fructose corn syrup.
You can watch the video below to check out some of my favorite bodybuilding foods that I recommend for optimum muscle gains.
Sample Meal Plan
|7:00 am breakfast/pre-workout||1 banana, 1 cup whole milk, 1 scoop whey protein, 1 bagel w/ peanut butter spread||700 calories|
|9:30 am post-workout||1 banana, 1 cup whole milk, 1.5 scoop whey protein, ½ cup oatmeal, ¼ cup raisins||700 calories|
|12:00 pm lunch||Chicken breast sandwich on wheat toasted bread, 1 cup steamed vegetables, 1 cup whole milk||500 calories|
|3:00 pm||½ cup peanuts, 1 cup whole milk, 1 fruit||350 calories|
|6:00 pm||Lean steak, mixed vegetables, ½ cup brown rice||500 calories|
|9:00 pm||I cup whole milk, ¼ cup peanuts||250 calories|
This is a sample meal plan for a strength training day, which you should be performing 3-5 times a week. For non-training days, or days that you only do cardio, cut calories by 25%-30%.
Here are two pictures of students of mine that are focused on eating right and gaining lean muscle.
There is no such thing as someone that can’t gain muscle. There are just people that are dedicated and do the right things.
My team and I recently started designing customized meal plans for those who want a simple roadmap that will help get them to their goals ASAP. We eliminate the guesswork involved with building your own meals or trying to come up with a plan on your own.
A Word on Supplements
Supplements are useful in the sense that they’re convenient, but they’re not superior, or more beneficial, than food. If you choose to use supplements, then I suggest you stick to a good pre-workout like Rebellion. This helps you stay focused in the gym so you can use the food you eat to its highest potential.
What about weight gain supplements? Personally, I don’t recommend them because most brands do not contain the right protein/carb/fat ratio. A lot of them also contain carbs in the form of sugar. If you choose to use a weight gainer, then limit the use to your post workout meals.
A Useful Tip
For some people, consuming 3,000 calories and upward is too much for them to handle even when food intake is divided over six or seven meals.
If you’re having trouble adjusting, then add an extra meal in the middle of the night. It will be a small 200-300 calorie meal consisting of milk or a meal replacement shake. Set the drink next to your nightstand and set your alarm for the middle of the night. When it goes off, get up, consume the beverage, and go back to sleep. It only takes two minutes, and you get in a few extra hundred calories to fuel muscle growth.
Eat, Exercise, Sleep, Rinse, and Repeat
When you’re trying to build muscle, eating becomes an organized and timed process that you have to squeeze into your schedule no matter how inconvenient it becomes. Following a bodybuilding meal plan is a lifestyle that requires dedication and forgoing a few conveniences. Your efforts, though, will become apparent when you see a whole different person in the mirror.
To build lean muscle mass without gaining fat in the process, follow The Simple Shredded Solution program. It will help you learn how to burn fat and build muscle with a quickness.