On aver­age, a body­builder spends 1–2 hours a day in the gym and has anoth­er 22–23 hours left in a day. Mus­cle growth at this time depends entire­ly on what foods and dish­es the ath­lete con­sumes.

What you need to eat so that the mus­cles increase in vol­ume, and the fats are not stored in reserve? Tells Med­AboutMe.

Tip 1: Eat real food

Amer­i­can writer, pub­li­cist, healthy eat­ing activist Michael Pol­lan advis­es “do not eat any­thing that your grand­moth­er would not rec­og­nize as food.” And that makes sense!

Processed foods, canned food, and prepack­aged meals are nutri­ent-poor but full of harm­ful addi­tives. While “real” foods (whole grains, eggs, fish and meat, nuts, fruits and veg­eta­bles) con­tain many nutri­ents that pro­vide a sta­ble sup­ply of amino acids and glu­cose to the mus­cles, and there­fore stim­u­late their increase.

Tip 2: Keep a food diary

Tip 2: Keep a food diary

The only way to know for sure if you’re get­ting enough pro­tein, fat, car­bo­hy­drates, fiber, and calo­ries is to keep track of them. If a notepad and pen are not for you, you can rely on an elec­tron­ic appli­ca­tion in which you just need to enter the type and amount of food you eat, and it will cal­cu­late every­thing for you.

Accord­ing to a 2012 study pub­lished in Euro­pean Jour­nal of Sport Sci­ence, more calo­ries does not mean bet­ter, since the ath­lete’s body has a speed lim­it for new mus­cles. If you con­stant­ly touch with calo­ries, they will go to the “fat depot”. To find out what num­ber of calo­ries is ide­al for you, a sports phys­i­ol­o­gist, nutri­tion­ist Lyle Mac­Don­ald advis­es mul­ti­ply­ing your weight, expressed in pounds, by 15 and adding 200–400 calo­ries to the result­ing val­ue. This will be the opti­mal dai­ly calo­rie con­tent for you.


If you are a begin­ner, add more calo­ries, and if you are an advanced ath­lete, add less, since begin­ner fit­ness ath­letes have more mus­cle build­ing poten­tial.

Tip 3: Eat every three hours

“If you don’t eat often enough, you lim­it your mus­cle build­ing rate,” says nutri­tion pro­fes­sor Vir­ginia Tech Uni­ver­si­ty Michael Hous­ton.

Divide your dai­ly calo­rie intake into six meals. And make sure that with each meal, the body received about 20 grams of pro­tein.

Tip 4: Choose Quality Protein

There is an opin­ion that the best source of pro­tein for a body­builder is game. Deer meat, elk and oth­er options, in addi­tion to an excel­lent ratio of pro­teins and fats, con­tain omega‑3 fat­ty acids, which are nec­es­sary for mus­cle growth and fat burn­ing. How­ev­er, oth­er lean meats are also ben­e­fi­cial.

Shared 2018 study Jour­nal of Sports Med­i­cine, shows that a pro­tein intake of 0.73–1 g per pound of body weight is opti­mal for mus­cle growth.

Tip 5: Count Fats and Carbs

Tip 5: Count Fats and Carbs

An ath­lete whose goal is to build mus­cle mass requires a suf­fi­cient amount of car­bo­hy­drates for good per­for­mance and train­ing effi­cien­cy. The amount of fat in the diet is also impor­tant, since the hor­mon­al back­ground of the ath­lete and the gen­er­al state of health depend on them.

About half of your calo­ries should come from car­bo­hy­drates, anoth­er 20% from healthy fats, and the remain­ing 30% from pro­tein. These are the norms of BJU for healthy peo­ple. But you can make cal­cu­la­tions and cal­cu­late the ide­al pro­por­tions just for you.

Experts rec­om­mend eat­ing 0.25–0.5 g of fat for every pound of an ath­lete’s weight. And the amount of car­bo­hy­drates is deter­mined minus pro­tein and fat from the dai­ly calo­rie intake.

Tip 6: Load up on whey protein

In a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Amino acid, Finnish sci­en­tists found that weightlifters who con­sumed whey pro­tein before and imme­di­ate­ly after exer­cise pro­duced more CDK2, a com­pound that is essen­tial for mus­cle growth and mus­cle recov­ery after exer­cise.

And a study con­duct­ed by Japan­ese sci­en­tists found that the use of whey pro­tein togeth­er with glu­cose pro­vides more mus­cle glyco­gen stores — the main source of ener­gy for work­ing mus­cles.


Take 20–30 grams of whey pro­tein iso­late or hydrolyzate 30 min­utes before and imme­di­ate­ly after your work­out.

Tip 7: Drink milk before bed

It has an ide­al com­bi­na­tion of pro­teins and car­bo­hy­drates at a rel­a­tive­ly low calo­rie con­tent. Milk should be drunk half an hour before going to bed. Accord­ing to a nutri­tion­ist Doug Kalman, this will pro­tect the mus­cles from destruc­tion.

Com­bine milk with a cup of raisin-fla­vored bran, or pair cot­tage cheese with fruit slic­ing. These same snack options are great for the first light break­fast.

Tip 8: Establish a drinking regimen

Tip 8: Establish a drinking regimen

Intense strength train­ing leads to loss of mois­ture, which in turn inhibits the process of mus­cle recov­ery, and as a result, mus­cle build­ing. Drink­ing enough water will pre­vent dehy­dra­tion, will not allow imag­i­nary hunger (and go over with calo­ries), and will also guar­an­tee excel­lent health to con­tin­ue train­ing.

Tip 9: Bet on Creatine

Cre­a­tine Mono­hy­drate is a nutri­tion­al sup­ple­ment that has a sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly proven ana­bol­ic effect. Its use will increase endurance and per­for­mance dur­ing train­ing, and also will help increase mus­cle mass. It should be tak­en in the amount of 5 grams per day with meals.

If the ath­lete is tak­ing cre­a­tine for the first time, you can do a “load” so that the results are vis­i­ble faster. To do this, with­in 5–7 days you need to take 20 g of cre­a­tine mono­hy­drate.

Tip 10: Avoid Alcohol

Although the experts U.S. food and drug Admin­is­tra­tion allow ath­letes to drink alco­hol and give only the max­i­mum fig­ures (0.33 liters of beer or a glass of wine for women and 0.66 liters and two glass­es of wine for men per day), you need to under­stand that alco­hol does not bring any­thing good to the body.

For a body­builder whose goal is to build mus­cle mass, he is the first ene­my, since his use helps to slow down pro­tein syn­the­sis.

Eat right!

Expert com­ment

Jere­my Ethi­er, Fit­ness Expert, Cer­ti­fied Kine­si­ol­o­gy Spe­cial­ist

When it comes to build­ing mus­cle mass, your diet is the most impor­tant fac­tor that affects the result. You can put in a lot of effort in the gym, but not see the return, and all because the nutri­tion is not bal­anced.

When your diet is opti­mized for mus­cle gain, it helps you per­form bet­ter in the gym, recov­er faster, and increase your progress. There­fore, pay close atten­tion to the ratio of pro­teins, fats and car­bo­hy­drates, give up junk food and con­sid­er tak­ing sports sup­ple­ments.

If your own knowl­edge is not enough to draw up a dai­ly menu, con­sult a spe­cial­ist.

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