How to Eat to Build Muscle


1 - Eat Sufficient Amounts of Protein


The rule of thumb is that you need between 0.7 and 0.8 times your body weight in grams of protein. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should eat between 105 and 120 grams of protein per day if you want to consistently gain muscle. If you're overweight, substitute your ideal body weight and calculate in grams. Proteins that are great for building muscle include:

  • Lean red meat like beef, pork, lamb, venison, bison, etc.

  • Fish like tuna, salmon, swordfish, bass, trout, mackerel, etc.

  • Poultry breast, from chicken, turkey, duck, etc.

  • Eggs (including the yolks)

  • Dairy like milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.



2 - Learn the Difference Between Complete and Incomplete Proteins

In order to build muscle, you need to consume complete proteins found in eggs, meat, fish, cheese, milk and most other animal products. Rule of thumb: If it bleeds or breathes, it's a complete protein. There are lots of non-animal complete proteins available, as well, meaning that you can still build muscle as a vegetarian.[1] Complete vegetarian proteins include:

  • Soy

  • Quinoa

  • Buckwheat

  • Chia

  • Hempseed

  • Beans or legumes with rice


3 - Eat foods with a high Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).


This is a measure of how well different proteins are digested by the body, based on the solubility of the amino acids in the protein. Think of PDCAAS as grading the quality of protein, with 1 being the highest score and 0 the lowest.Here's a breakdown common proteins by their rounded PDCAAS score:

  • 1.00: egg, whey, casein, soy protein

  • 0.9: beef, soybeans

  • 0.7: chickpeas, fruits, black beans, vegetables, other legumes

  • 0.5: cereals and derivatives, peanuts

  • 0.4: whole wheat


4 - Include Carbohydrates in Your Diet


It is important to have carbohydrates so that your body can tap into glycogen (energy) stores within your muscles while you are working out. If you do not eat enough carbohydrates your body will not have energy reserves and will break down your muscles instead! To build muscle, your diet should consist of somewhere between 40% and 60% carbohydrates, or about 1,500 calories per day.

  • Carbs get an unfairly bad reputation from dieting guides. Because complex carbs are broken down slowly and have a low-glycemic index (not as much sugar), they are acceptable to eat after a workout, and especially in the morning at breakfast. Try to select carbohydrates low on the Glycemic Index, which are healthier and release their energy more slowly. Good examples are:

    • Brown Basmati Rice

    • Quinoa

    • Rolled Oats

    • Sweet Potato

    • Wholemeal Rye Bread

    • Wholemeal Spaghetti


5 - Eat Healthy Fats

Not all fats are created equal. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that eating healthy fats is actually good for you. You should get about 20% to 35% of your calories from fats. Eat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are the "better" fats. They include:

  • Olive, peanut, sunflower, canola, and avocado oils

  • Fish

  • Nuts

  • Flaxseed and pumpkin seeds

  • Soy products such as tofu or soy milk



6 - Limit Saturated and Trans Fats


While there is conflicting evidence about saturated fats and their value in your diet, it is best to limit them. Make sure saturated fats make up no more than 10% of your caloric intake. Trans fats, on the other hand, are proven to be unhealthy ("bad" fats) and should make up no more than 1% of your caloric intake.Bad fats include:

  • Ice cream, candy bars, and packaged snack foods

  • High-fat cuts of meat

  • Lard, stick margarine, and vegetable shortening

  • Fried foods



7 - Consume Plenty of Fiber 


Remember it is important to include green vegetables in your diet such as spinach or broccoli to ensure that you receive an adequate amount of vitamins. As well, green leafy vegetables are high in fiber which is essential for removing waste from the body.


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