When trying to build muscle, I suggest using the following guidelines. Keep in mind that this eating approach is not a carved in stone rule, meaning that you do not need to nail every percentage on the head.
Muscle building nutrition is not magic. There is no need to obsess and micro-manage every gram of this or that. It is important that you gain a fundamental understanding of the foods that you are eating, and their protein, carb and fat content.
It is also very important that you are eating enough. Nothing slows muscle gains faster than undereating.
Food contains 3 primary energy providing macronutrients:
- Protein. Protein contains 4 calories of energy per gram.
- Fat. Fat contains 9 calories of energy per gram.
- Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain 4 calories of energy per gram.
Protein. Your daily muscle building diet should consist of approximately 200 grams of protein. This works out to 800 daily calories from protein.
Fat. Fat should comprise about 30% of your daily calories. If you are eating 3000 calories per day, 30% of this would work out to equal 900 daily calories from pat, or 100 grams of fat.
Carbohydrates. After you have figured out your daily fat and protein intake, the rest of your daily calories should come from carbohydrate food sources.
The following are sample muscle building diets based upon different daily calorie requirements. All numbers are rounded up.
- 2000 Daily Calories. 200 grams of protein, 67 grams of fat, 150 grams of carbohydrates.
- 2500 Daily Calories. 200 grams of protein, 84 grams of fat, 238 grams of carbohydrates.
- 3000 Daily Calories. 200 grams of protein, 100 grams of fat, 150 grams of carbohydrates.
- 3500 Daily Calories. 200 grams of protein, 117 grams of fat, 413 grams of carbohydrates.
A Word About Protein
When it comes to protein intake, debates can be heated. Some individuals get upset if anything above 150 to 160 grams of protein, using the statement:
Anything above 150-160 grams is useless for muscle building!
This might very well be. BUT, eating fewer daily grams of protein requires you to consume more daily grams of carbohydrates. There is a vast amount of research and evidence revealing that the over-consumption of carbs is not the wisest approach when considering your long-term health.
For more information on this subject, please check out the following books:
- Nutrition And Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price.
- Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes.
- Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes.
At the end of the day eating “only” 150 to 160 grams of daily protein will probably not slow the muscle building process. The choice of how much protein to eat is up to you.
With that said, if you are currently underweight it may be in your best interest to eat a little more protein than normal. Underweight individuals are not only trying to build muscle, but also struggling to get back to a normal, average bodyweight. A more aggressive diet is very beneficial during this process.