Best Nutrition for Building Muscle

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Posted on Friday 1 July 2011

Building muscle can seem like a daunting task. Especially for skinny guys. But despite what you might have heard - even skinny guys can get big muscles. Fact. If you're a skinny guy and struggling to put on weight you probably have a high metabolism. This is perfectly healthy and normal.

There's a basic fundamental prinicple which is really important to understand about building muscle. Without this knowledge - you'll fail. See all those other skinny guys at the gym trying so hard - but not putting on any weight? They don't understand what you're about to learn.

Imagine you're going to build a house. You have the land. You have the plans. You know exactly how you want it to look, how many rooms it's going to have, how big the kitchen and living room will be etc. However, you don't have any bricks. What will happen to the new house? It will never be built.

Does this sound familiar? You have access to the gym or fitness equipment. You have the plans; a full workout guide, sets and reps you're going to do. However - without the right nutrients - where's the muscle going to come from? Sure you can spend endless hours, days weeks or even years at the gym. But you'll never get big muscles.

What nutrition do I need?

There are two parts to this question. The first is what you need to be eating. The second is when and how often you need to be eating it. But just remember the first law of building muscle is nurtients. The second law is muscle/weight training.

There's a guy I used to see every morning at my local gym. He was built like a tank. Bulging muscles and incredibly strong. He had his own personal trainer every morning, ran his own business. The one advice he gave me was this: building muscle is 80% diet and 20% gym work.

Muscle tissue needs protein to grow. Fact. The best sources of high quality protein are lean meats such as chicken breast, tuna, salmon, eggs and lean beef. If you want a complete list of the best protein foods to eat checkout the article: Good Protein Foods to Build Muscle.

Now you know what to eat - you need to know how often to eat it. I've been doing a lot of research recently on how much protein to consume per meal. I always thought 30 grams of protein per meal was ideal. I've even written articles on this website recommending 30 grams of protein per meal. However, my recent research has led me to try something new.

How much protein?

I've recently discovered that 40 to 60 grams of protein per meal can turbo charge your muscles growth. I've always aimed for 30 grams per meal. However, if you really want to increase your muscle building - take in more per meal.

How much protein can your body consume per hour? No-one seems to know. You could spend hours researching this one, asking 100 different dieticians and doctors. You're going to get 100 different answers. Confusing right?

Here's the way I see it: I'd rather be taking in too much protein than too little. There is no one single answer that's right everyone for this question. Different body types will be able to proccess different amounts of protein per hour. So what should you do?

Start on about 40 to 60 grams of protein per meal, eating every 2 to 3 hours, 6+ times/meals per day and see how you get on. If you're body seems to be responding badly (digestive problems, trapped wind, discoloured stools etc) try reducing the amount of protein you take in (say 30 to 40).

Why such a high amount per meal? Your body is built for survival - not muscle growth. In other words - if your vital organs are running low on energy or protein - they'll take it from your hard earnt muscles. So make sure your body always has a little bit too much protein for what it needs.

It's all down to trial and error. Try something - see if it works. Keep trying and you'll get it right eventually!

What about other nutrients?

There are 3 other important nurtients you need to be taking in. If you just ate protein and nothing else - you would starve your body of important nurtients it needs to survive.

Green vegetables

Green vegetables contain high levels of vitamin C (plus other vitamins) - the key ingredient for keeping germs and illnesses away. When putting your body under constant strain and pressure - like you do when building lots of muscle - your immune system can be weakened.

There's nothing worse then having to take time out of building muscle because you have a cold and a runny nose. It can cause you to become really behind on your training program and waste valuable time and resources.

Make sure you're eating lots of green vegetables. Green vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. They're also low in calories - so you won't gain any unwanted fat on your body.


Carbohdrates are what your body needs for energy. A diet without carbs is like a car without petrol - it won't move. Simple. If you don't have enough carbs in your diet - your workouts will feel very tough indeed.

When I first started at the gym when I was a skinny teenager - I ignored carbs and just used to eat protein. When I got to the gym I had almost no energy to do a complete workout. The result? No gaims.

Another major issue that comes with a lack of carbs is that your body might use your muscle tissue as a source of fuel. So any muscle gains will be quickly lost when your body needs fuel for metabolism.

Aim to consume about 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrates per meal. Stay well away from junk food, processed foods or anything high in sugar or trans fat. Eat complex carbohydrates. You'll get a more gradual release or energy over a longer period of time.

If you're staring to get fat around your mid-section (waist) then you're either eating too many simple carbs (fast food, processed foods, sugars) or you're not doing enough cardiovascular exercise. If you're getting plenty of exercise and eating only complex carbs but still gaining fat - reduce your carb intake slightly.


Fats do not deserve the negative press they get. They're vital for human survival. It just depends what sort of fats you've heard about. Trans fats or trans fatty acids must be avoided. They're an artey-clogging fat that's produced when vegetable oil is hardened into margarine or shortening. Trans fats are most commonly found in donuts, chips (fries), fried foods, pastries, cookies and crisps (potatoe chips).

Trans fats aside - your diet should consist of 30% fat. This rules goes for everyone - skinny or large, male or female, young or wise. Your fat intake should be a balanced intake of the 3 main fat groups: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. By getting a balanced 1/3 of these fats you will maintain a very healthy and muscle prone body.

Balancing your diet to include a third of these 3 types of fats isn't as difficult as it sounds. The western diet tends to be very high in saturated fats and not so high in monosaturated (olive oil) and polysaturated (fish oil). So to balance it out: consume greater amounts of olive oil and fish oil. You'll very quickly achieve a balanced 1/3 of all these fats.

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Your Comments

anthony Tuesday 5th July 2011 at 20:34
what about overweight people

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