Muscle Growth Nutrition – The Best Mass Gain Diet

Description: Gaining muscle mass is a top priority for many men in the gym. However, beginners mistakenly believe that the secret to big muscles is exhausting workouts. However, without muscle building diet, the result will be unsatisfactory.

It takes a lot of work and desire to achieve six-pack abs or impressive back muscles. With a skillful approach, it is possible to get a noticeable result in a few months. The main thing is to understand that in addition to strength exercises, sweating in the gym, incredible loads, there is another important component on which half of the success depends. It is proper nutrition for gaining muscle mass for men.

Muscle building excercise
Gaining muscle is 50% disciplined workout and 50% nutrition

Understanding the processes in the body, learning the effect of food on the formation of muscles helps increase muscles stably and without stretch marks.

Please note that a proper muscle building diet differs from the standard diet for a healthy lifestyle, and it is not a diet for weight loss. How to find a good diet for building muscle? Let’s learn all the details together.

Nutrition principles

Weightlifters need a lot of protein to shape their bodies. Beginners, carried away by protein shakes, forget about nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants, which are needed for the human body’s normal functioning, regardless of your attitude to sports.

The best way to get all this “healthy set” is to eat natural foods:

  • meat;
  • fish;
  • vegetables;
  • fruit;
  • cereals;
  • dairy.
Muscle building nutrition

A successful muscle building diet is based on three basic principles:

  • Healthy appetite.
  • Balanced menu.
  • Strict eating plan.

Lean muscle mass occurs with an increased calorie intake. At the same time, the source of additional calories and the time of eating are important, so here is a diet plan for building muscle and losing fat.

Eating frequency

It is common to eat three meals a day. But for bodybuilders, this routine is not suitable unless you practice building muscle on a low-carb diet. Exhausting strength training requires a lot of energy. You will lack it if you have more than three hours between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The muscles do not receive nutrition and stop growing, which negates the efforts spent in the gym.

Thus, to build muscle mass, meals should be evenly distributed throughout the day, taking into account the pause between them for no more than 3 hours.

It turns out that you need to eat (taking into account small snacks) 5-6 times a day to ensure the smooth formation of muscle tissue.

workout and muscle gain
Only workout can’t achieve great muscle gain

The perfect plan for gaining weight is to give the body an hour or two to digest and then go to the gym. After the workout, give the body 30-40 minutes to recover and then eat something.

Calorie content of foods

When food is processed in the body, it releases energy, measured in calories, spent on maintaining vital functions, including building muscles. Effective muscle building occurs when the amount of calories delivered with food exceeds their daily consumption.

The required number of calories for an athlete depends on:

  • individual basal metabolism, which is influenced by weight, age, and height;
  • level of daily physical activity;
  • body type.

How many calories do you need to gain muscle mass? The easiest way to determine how many calories you need is to weigh yourself at least three times a week and record what you eat using a calorie tracking app. If the weight remains the same, then the daily number of calories that you consume are your supporting calories – in other words, with them, you do not lose or gain weight but simply save it.

When following a muscle building diet, men are advised to increase their calorie intake by 15%. For example, if you have 3,000 calories per day, you should start eating 3,450 calories (3,000 x 0.15 = 450). It is also important to continue to closely monitor weight changes as the number of calories consumed increases. It is recommended not to lose or gain more than 0.5-1% of body weight per week.

We advise you to purchase a smart scale that measures body mass index, body fat, muscle and bone mass, and body water content.

muscle building and calorie intake
For muscle building increase your calorie intake

Nutrients ratio in muscle building diet program

A healthy muscle building diet for men depends primarily on body weight and energy consumption. To gain the minimum required amount of calories daily, calculate your individual ratio according to the formula 1 kg of weight = 2g proteins, 0.7g fat, 4g carbs.

When drawing up a healthy nutrition plan, be guided by the following calorie content: 1 g of protein/carbohydrate = 4 kcal, 1 g of fat = 9 kcal. Carbohydrates will serve as the main source of energy during workouts; proteins will grow and strengthen muscles. The most protein-rich foods are meat and dairy. Soy, legumes, and nuts contain many important amino acids.

The given formula for calculating nutrients is averaged. When you gain weight, a lot depends on your body type and metabolic rate. If muscle growth does not occur over time (for example, due to a fast metabolism), change the proportions in the high protein diet for muscle building towards more carbohydrates. Study your body and experiment!

Proteins, fats, and carbs

Beginners often make the mistake of preferring foods high in protein, not including fats and carbohydrates in the diet. During the muscle-building process, complex hormonal processes occur that are impossible without fats. And without carbs, there will be no strength to perform increased loads.

Only balanced nutrition, including the right ratio of nutrients, allows you to create a perfect muscle building diet for men to achieve noticeable results quickly.

Such a menu should contain:

  • 30-35% proteins;
  • 10-20% fat;
  • 50-60% carbohydrates.

You can adjust this ratio based on body characteristics, workout plans, and your current state.

muscle building with balanced diet
Balanced diet and workout can lead to a great well-built body

Drinking pure water is an important component of protein nutrition. For effective mass gain, you need to consume from 2 to 4 liters per day, depending on your weight.

Muscle building diet plan

The number of meals in the diet for gaining weight can vary. Try to eat small servings, but often: 4-7 times a day, with breaks of 2.5-3 hours. At least three meals should be high in protein. Such a diet promotes the production of growth hormones (very important for the muscles) and reduces the cortisol level.

● Breakfast is vital to energize the day ahead. It should consist mainly of carbohydrates (cereals) and proteins (eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or beans for vegetarian muscle building diet plan).

● The main components of lunch in the diet for building muscles are complex carbohydrates (for example, whole-grain pasta) and proteins (meat, fish). Add vegetables seasoned with oil (extra virgin oils have the most beneficial properties).

● Make a proper dinner with proteins and vegetables, and it is better to avoid carbohydrates until the next morning. Your last meal should be no later than 1-2 hours before bedtime. It should be an easily digestible protein – cottage cheese with berries is a perfect option.

You can have a snack with fresh or dried fruits, dairy foods. The best sources of healthy fats on a muscle-building diet are nuts or avocados. Sports nutrition is also great for a snack when gaining muscle mass.

food before workout
Take food two hours before workout

Before workout

You need to eat well two hours before going to the gym, and the food should contain mainly complex carbohydrates. They are great for energy, and there is enough strength for a full workout.

For half an hour, you can take an energy drink based on a mixture of proteins and carbohydrates. Now you are ready to gain weight, grab your best workout shoes and train hard!

After workout

You should not starve after a hard workout, but it is not right to overeat after the gym. Give the body 40 minutes to recover and continue the processes of muscle formation.

It is allowed to eat a couple of bananas or drink a gainer. You can cook it yourself at home. It is very simple:

  • 200 g cottage cheese;
  • 150 ml of milk;
  • 2 tablespoons of fine oatmeal;
  • 1 banana.

Beat all components in a blender until smooth and drink this protein-carbohydrate cocktail immediately as it changes the structure after some time. 

Wait for one hour and have proteins and slow carbohydrates lunch or dinner. Ectomorph beginners should always remember about the carbohydrate window and use its benefits by loading carbohydrates immediately after exercise. But it should not be donuts of french fries, but natural vegetables, fruits, cereals. However, endomorphs need to limit the number of carbohydrates they eat following a diet for building muscle mass, especially in the evening.

Carbohydrates leading to body mass
Watch your carbs

Before bedtime

The last meal is a very important point for bodybuilders. Firstly, the feeling of fullness is important, and secondly, it is necessary to start metabolic processes that will continue to work while sleeping. Use drinks enriched with ingredients that stimulate muscle growth and drink them before bed.

Additional foods for muscle growth

If you can’t get enough protein using regular nutrition, ready-made sports nutrition is an excellent choice: dry protein and protein bars. In nutrition for muscle building diet and workout, protein is contained in an easily digestible form and quickly provides the body with important building material for muscle fibers.

Proteins are great for:

  • snacking or replacing one of the meals during the day;
  • a source of valuable amino acids 2-3 hours before exercise;
  • supplements to prevent muscle loss after exercise.

To make the muscle building diet higher in calories, you can try gainers – dry protein-carbohydrate mixtures in the proportion of 20-40% proteins and 60-80% fast carbohydrates. The most effective way to use this supplement is as follows:

  • as a snack in the morning, before lunch;
  • before a workout to quickly replenish energy reserves;
  • after an intense workout to “close” the protein-carbohydrate window.

The choice between a gainer and a protein should be based on actual needs. If the diet lacks protein, then it is better to take a protein or a gainer with its increased content. If the only question is how to get more calories, feel free to buy any gainer.

Overall, supplements are a great and sometimes tasty source of quick energy, but they shouldn’t be a complete substitute for regular meals. To gain weight, food should be healthy and varied.

Foods to avoid when gaining muscle mass

A plentiful muscle-building diet, only at first glance, seems to have no restrictions. However, everything is strictly weighed and calculated.

To achieve significant results, you should not make mistakes in a diet for lean muscle building for beginners:

  • Too much sugar. Yes, it is a carbohydrate, but not good for the body, but rather harmful. Excessive amounts of sugar raise cholesterol and lead to diabetes. Eliminate cakes, sweet dairy, sweet soda.
  • Too much beer. So you want to relax after a workout, thinking about the carbohydrate window. But beer turns into fat, and alcohol destroys all efforts. 
  • Processed foods. There is hidden fat that will not benefit your muscles. Besides, processed foods contain too many unhealthy elements, so it is better to refuse them altogether.
  • Regular fast food. No need to explain that it is a mix of saturated fat and fast carbohydrates that will turn into fat.

The best way to gain high-quality weight gain is to eat natural foods, fresh vegetables, and fruits. This way, you will avoid harm to your health and achieve real results.

natural food and fresh fruits for muscles
Eat natural food, fresh vegetables

Additional recommendations

  • During workouts, the water-salt metabolism in the body is very important. If there is not enough water or it does not retain, the muscles drastically lose volume. If you consume too much water, it flushes out important trace minerals. It is best to drink water with a high potassium, sodium, and chlorine content, which retain liquid in the body and prevent muscles from “deflating.” Isotonic drinks are considered a good substitute for natural water.
  • Consume carbohydrates during the day, avoiding evening carbs, so that they are converted into energy and not stored in excess body fat.
  • Protein synthesis slows down during sleep. Therefore, immediately after waking up, be sure to have a proper breakfast.
  • Listen to your body: if you cannot eat the amount of food that you need according to the calculations of the daily calorie intake, do not worry. In this case, it is better to replace one meal with a glass of protein shake.
  • Make a diet plan for the week ahead. Pre-cooked and frozen meals will prevent you from disrupting the schedule.
  • Be sure to supplement proper nutrition with strength training, performing basic exercises with a barbell and dumbbells. Muscles will not appear on their own, even with the most healthy nutrition. Regular training is especially important for men with ectomorph body types who find it difficult to gain mass.
  • Stick to your exercise routine. Muscles do not grow during a workout but during the recovery period. It is important to rest three days for beginners and a day and a half for experienced athletes.


Exercise and proper nutrition will help your muscles grow in size, but your body needs time to recover. And for this, you need to sleep at least 8 hours a day, eat right and avoid extra-heavy loads in the gym. This is the only way to create a beautiful body without any excess fat. 

Increasing muscle mass is a complex process that can bring visible results only with special knowledge and experience. You need to adhere to certain principles for achieving the final goal, but it is important not to overdo it.

We wish you success in gaining muscle mass!

Please share your muscle-building diet tips in the comments below. What is the most important nutritional rule for you?


Author’s Bio:

Kevin is a contributing author and has been writing content for about 3 years. He really wants to share his experiences and advice with anyone who cares about health and fitness. He enjoys helping people achieve their fitness goals with simple instructions and overcoming any obstacles on the way.

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