When you hit the gym, what’s your goal? Most people say to lose weight. But many people workout to gain. Well… gain muscle, that is. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn, and the easier it is to lose weight and perform strength-related activities. Those who are focusing on strength training don’t necessarily want to gain mass, while those who are focused on muscle-building want to bulk up. To hit your goals, you need more than a gym membership or set of dumbbells. As they say, abs begin in the kitchen – and the same is true of any muscle group. So what’s the best muscle-building diet plan?
Meet Your Goals with a High-Quality Muscle-Building Diet Plan
When you are working towards a body goal, eating and sleeping properly is just as critical as working out. It really is true: you get out what you put in. Are you putting in high-quality food that will help you achieve muscle gain?
Any muscle-building diet plan is going to involve calories – and lots of them. But this doesn’t mean you can shovel in the potato chips, pizza, cakes, and other empty carbs. You need to fuel your body with quality nutrition. Your individual calorie count will be unique to your body, but you need to eat enough on workout days to allow the new muscle to build. On off days, you need to eat enough to sustain the muscle you have. If you don’t eat enough, you lose all those hard-earned gains.
Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) puts away almost 5200 calories a day; the average for a man his age is about 2700. By the way, 1000 calories of this are dedicated to cod. Can you smell what the Rock is cooking? It’s lean protein, baby.
There is no one special – or magic – muscle-building diet plan. There is, however, a method that will work for you and your goals. Finding your caloric target is step one. Use a calorie calculator to get your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Now, these will give you the caloric intake you need to maintain your current weight and to lose weight. They don’t often tell you what you need to gain. When muscle-building, figure out your BMR and add 20 calories per pound.
High-Protein Diet Plan for Muscle Gain
As mentioned, there is no one special diet, but you do want to make sure you are meeting your caloric target and getting enough protein. Building muscle requires more protein than sustaining muscle, so if you’re looking to bulk up, you need to boost your intake of this macronutrient.
To simplify your menu, and help you stick to your muscle-building diet plan, it’s best to base your diet around “core” foods. These will help you get the nutrients you need. Our favorite core items include black beans, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and meats. You will also integrate other foods into your diet, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, oils (high-quality olive or coconut oils are great choices), sweet potato, dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt), and eggs. And, of course, you need to hydrate! Lots of water and green tea are ideal compliments to your diet plan.
A note on what to avoid: you guessed it… stay away from foods with added sugar, saturated fats, and empty carbs. Limit alcohol consumption as well.
Meal planning and sticking to a diet is easy…. When you have ample time and you’re home and able to prep. But the reality is that we’re all busy! Jobs, families, obligations, workouts… we are always on the go. So make sure your meals and snacks are also ready to go.
It’s helpful to set aside a night each week to prepare your meals; make a pot of quinoa and throw it in the fridge. This gives you a base for any number of meals throughout the week. Chop up some veggies so you can just grab a bag on your way out. These easy steps make a big difference when it comes to sticking with your diet.
Also, stock up on high-quality protein-based snacks for those times that the drive-thru or the vending machine is calling. You’ll be able to pull out a package of raw nuts, a cheese stick, hard boiled eggs, or, our favorite, FATTY Smoked Meat Sticks! These are excellent high-protein snacks to incorporate into your muscle-building plan. And… they are delicious! Stock up now.