Translate / Tradutor

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Muscle-Building Nutrition Rules

Muscle-Building Nutrition Rules

Follow these 11 rules and you'll be building muscle in no time!

As I’ve told you before, when it comes to gaining serious muscle, it’s not just about training. While you need a smart training program to stimulate the muscle growth process, you need ample nutrients to support that muscle growth.

But there’s a lot of confusing information out there. That’s why I’ve put together my 11 nutrition rules for building muscle. Follow these 11 rules and you’ll be gaining muscle in no time.

Rule #1: Calories are king

The first thing that you need to focus on getting ample amounts of is calories. If you’re not getting in ample calories, then your body will not expend energy on growing.  On workout days you’ll want to shoot for about 20-22 calories per pound of body weight. That equates to 4000 – 4400 calories for the 200 pounder. On rest days, since you won’t be expending as many calories, you can pull back your calorie intake to about 18 calories per pound of body weight, or 3600 calories for the 200-pound guy. This will help to keep your mass gain on the lean side and avoid fat gain.

Rule #2: Protein is important

Since muscle is made of protein, it should make perfect sense that to grow muscle you need to eat protein. Ample protein. That means you should be way above 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and up to 2 grams per pound on both workout days and rest days. For a 200 pounder that equates to 200-400 grams per day. You’re better off eating too much protein, then not enough and having it be a limiting factor that prevents adequate muscle growth. As far as protein sources, you’ll need plenty of whey and casein protein powders (see more on these below), but also lots of whole food protein sources, such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish and dairy.

Rule #3: Carbs are critical

As critical as protein is for muscle growth, carbs are also extremely important when trying to build serious size. Your body needs to know you have an energy surplus to grow muscle best. Since growing muscle is an energy-requiring process, your body won’t expend the calories on muscle growth unless it has ample calories for all the other more critical processes your body requires each and every day. Having your body stocked up with glycogen (the storage form of carbs) signals that your body is in an energy surplus.  Plus, glycogen pulls water into the muscles. The more glycogen you have stored in your muscles, the more water it pulls in. This fills up your muscles like a water balloon. That makes them fuller. It also places a stretch on the muscle fiber membranes, which instigates processes in the muscle that increase muscle protein synthesis and leads to long term muscle growth. On workout days you should be shooting for about 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. That’s 400 grams for a 200-pound person. On rest days, to keep fat at bay, drop carbs down to about 1-1.5 grams per pound. Since you are not burning up carbs in the gym, you won’t need as many as you will on workout days.

Rule #4: Fatten up

No, I don’t mean to get fat. I mean to eat fat. If you regularly follow my nutrition advice, you should know by now that fat is not the demon it was once thought to be. Males need ample amounts of fat, even saturated fat, to maximize natural levels of testosterone. Monounsaturated fat is also critical for maintaining testosterone levels, as well as enhancing overall health. And the essential omega-3 fats, such as those found in salmon and other fatty fish, encourage better muscle and joint recovery, not to mention all the health benefits it offers. So you should shoot for at least half your body weight in grams of fat. That’s 100 grams per day of fat for the 200-pound guy. About 1/3 of that should be saturated fat, another 1/3 should be monounstaurated fat, and the other 1/3 should be polyunsaturated fat, with emphasis on the omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. 

Rule #5: Eggs are exceptional

When it comes to protein, there are certain ones you should try to include in your diet most days, if not every day. For starters, eggs. You’ll want to get in at least 3 whole eggs per day. I typically suggest you go with 3 whole eggs and about 3 whites every day. That’s because research has shown that men who eat 3 egg yolks every day while weight training gain twice as much muscle mass and strength as those not eating the yolks. This is likely due to the saturated fat and cholesterol aiding testosterone production. If you’re worried about the cholesterol… don’t. Research shows that the cholesterol from egg yolks won’t raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol). But don’t start you day first thing with eggs. For the answer why, read Rule #7 below.

Rule #6: Beef it

Another source of protein you’ll want to be sure to eat is beef. In addition to the quality protein it provides, the saturated fat will enhance testosterone levels for maximizing muscle growth. Plus, beef is rich in B vitamins, zinc, and iron, which are all critical for growing muscle and for maintaining energy levels during workouts. They’ll also help to keep your immune system strong, fighting off colds and other viruses that may force you to skip workouts and lose muscle.

Rule #7: Start the day with whey ASAP

After sleeping for (hopefully) seven-plus hours, your body is in a fragile state known as catabolism. That means your muscle is being broken down for fuel. Why would your body turn on itself like that? Actually the body is defending its most important organ, the brain. The brain can only run on glucose. But since you are fasting for all those hours while you are sleeping, you are not feeding your brain the glucose it needs. Since you have ample muscle, your body breaks it down to convert the amino acids into glucose for the brain. That means you are losing muscle when you wake up. If you eat a whole food protein source, such as eggs, when you first wake up, they will take way too many hours to digest and get into your body to stop the breakdown of muscle. The only thing fast enough to get this job done in a hurry is whey protein. That’s why every morning you MUST get out of bed and immediately down a 20-40 grams whey protein shake.  You should also have some carbs with this shake. Fruit is a good option at this time. Although fruit does require some digestion, it contains glucose and fructose. The glucose is fast-diegsting. Fructose is a low-glycemic carb, but that’s because it must first be converted to glucose in the liver. Both of these sugars will get to the liver fairly rapidly. Because catabolism is controlled by the liver, this will signal the body to stop breaking down converting muscle aminos into glucose. About 30-60 minutes after this first breakfast, have a second breakfast of slower-digesting whole foods, such as eggs and oatmeal.

Rule #8: Start your workouts with Whey

There is no more critical time window when it comes to your nutrition than around your workout time. That’s a platform that I have stood firm on for many years. But today, I’m not the only one pontificating on this note. A plethora of research studies now confirm that the few hours before and after your workouts are the most critical in your day. In fact, researchers from Victoria University, (Victoria, Australia) reported in a 2006 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that weight-trained men who consumed a protein/carb/creatine shake immediately before and after workouts for 10 weeks almost doubled the muscle mass gains they made as compared to the subjects taking the same protein/carb/creatine shake before breakfast and before bed. Within 30 minutes of workouts it’s time to get in the most critical nutrient of your preworkout window – protein. But not just any ol’ protein will do. Don’t waste your time eating whole food protein sources. Whole-food protein, such as chicken or beef, at this time will be too slow to digest. By the time it digests, the workout will be long over and you will have missed the boat to get a better workout and stimulate muscle growth. Only a whey protein shake will be fast enough to get digested and into your body during the workout. This will deliver its amino acids, such as the critical branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to your muscles during the workout. That will provide your muscles more energy during the workout and will halt muscle breakdown, as well as get muscle growth moving forward in a hurry. Go with about 20 grams of whey protein.

Rule #9: Finish your workouts with a mix of protein powders

Within 30 minutes after your workout it’s time to get in more critical nutrients for optimizing muscle recovery and growth. The most critical nutrient you can get after your workout is also the fast-digesting whey protein. Whey’s fast-digestion means it gets its amino acids to your muscle cells rapidly for immediate recovery and for kickstarting muscle growth right when the time is right. I suggest you also mix some casein in with your whey as research shows that even though casein is slow-digesting it enhances whey’s ability to stimulate muscle growth. Mix 20-40 grams of whey protein with 10-20 grams of casein protein after workouts or use a protein powder that’s a mix of whey and casein.

Rule #10: Slow down and then speed up around workouts

Protein shakes are not the only critical thing to ingest before and after wortkouts. You also need carbs for energy and for instigating muscle growth. But you need to know what kind of carbs to eat before and after. Within 30 minutes before workouts, along with your whey shake, you’ll want to get in about 20-40 grams of slow-digesting carbs, such as fruit, oatmeal, or whole wheat bread. Slow-digesting carbs provide longer lasting energy than fast carbs. Plus, they don’t spike insulin levels as fast-digesting carbs do. This means that they won’t inhibit fat-burning during the workout.  Within 30 minutes after the workout, along with your whey and casein protein shake, you’ll want to consume another 40-100 grams of carbs. But unlike preworkout, here you want fast-digesting carbs such as, white bread, Vitargo, sorbet, or fat-free candy. The spike these carbs cause in insulin levels not only helps to quickly replenish muscle glycogen, which has been depleted during the workout, but it further boosts protein synthesis and blunts cortisol levels. The catabolic hormone cortisol competes with the anabolic hormone testosterone and increases muscle breakdown. Blunting it keeps you in a more anabolic state and promotes better muscle growth. My favorite form of postworkout carbs is candy that uses dextrose as the main ingredient, such as Wonka Pixy Stix, Wonka Bottle Caps, or Wonka Sweet Tarts. Dextrose is basically glucose, the form of sugar your body uses. That means when you eat candy made of dextrose, your body does not have to digest the dextrose and it gets absorbed almost immediately into your blood stream where it goes right to your muscles.

Rule #11: End the day slowly

No, I’m not suggesting you ease into a relaxing state for getting ready for bed. I’m referring to the type of protein you should consume right before bed. As I mentioned in rule #7, while you sleep, your body is breaking down your muscle to fuel your brain. You want to avoid that. The best way to do so is to have a very slow-digesting protein immediately before you get in bed. The slowest-digesting protein you can get is casein protein. Casein makes up the majority of the protein in milk. The rest is whey. Casein forms micelles when mixed with fluid. These micelles are essentially clumps of casein protein. In the body, these micelles behave essentially like an onion. Each layer of protein gets peeled off the clump to be digested one at a time, which means it provides your body a steady stream of aminos for most of the night, up to about 7 hours. That prevents your body from using muscle aminos, and using the amino acids from the casein instead, keeping your muscles intact. The best form of casein is a casein protein powder that contains micellar casein. Or if you prefer to eat your protein, rather than drink it, a cup or so of cottage cheese will work well. Cottage cheese is a good source of casein.


  1. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. iherb

  2. You have a very inspiring way of exploring and sharing your thoughts. It is very uncommon nowadays, lots of sites and blogs having copy pasted or rewritten info. But here, no doubt, info is original and very well structured. Keep it up. coupon iherb