How To Eat To Gain Muscle – How To Structure Proper Diet

By | February 18, 2015

How To Eat To Gain Muscle – How To Structure Proper Diet

So you’re hitting the weights on a regular basis and aiming for progression by lifting more weight or more reps and on top of that you’re also resting enough… But there is one crucial principle you might be wondering about and that is how to eat to gain muscle! But have no fear I’m here to help you and steer you to right direction.

The #1 thing for building muscle and strength is ofcourse training with weights but almost as crucial is the diet. Since if you’re not eating right your body doesn’t have what it needs to build the muscle even though your beasting in the gym.

So let’s take a look at the 3 most important principles of proper muscle building diet. It’s not actually a rocket science and it’s quite easy to understand and implement.

#1 Calorie SurplusHow To Eat To Gain Muscle

The number one thing in your diet should be sufficient amount of calories. This is the most important part of any diet that aims to build muscle. The answer is simple:

If you’re not eating enough calories your body will not have the energy to build muscle!

It’s really as simple as that. So how can you achieve this? You got basically two routes to go here and let’s take a quick look at both of them.

Dirty Bulking means that you won’t be monitoring your calorie intake, you just shove down as much as food you basically want. This will gain you muscle & strength BUT also you’ll gain quite a lot of excess fat. For individuals who are not really too concerned with their lean physique this is an option for you.

Clean Bulking you’re trying to minimize the excess fat along your muscle gains. This type of muscle building will let you stay in a good looking condition all year around. But usually when you’re at a calorie surplus ofcourse you will gain a bit of excess fat on the side but this can be done smart so you won’t end up as a fat blob, it’s totally normal and expected to gain a bit of fat on the side. So how should you go about with this clean bulking? First you have to figure out your Maintenance Calories and this can be done with a simple calculator using Harris-Benedict Equation HERE! Don’t worry about being a bit off with the calories, you don’t have to be 100% sure how much your maintenance is, you just have to have a rough estimate on it! So now you got to know your maintenance calories next stop is to top it up to Calorie Surplus. A good amount of surplus is something between 10-20% more to your maintenance. About the ratios of macros check out the #2 and #3 parts of this article.

Now we got the Calorie Surplus figured out let’s move on…

#2 Sufficient Protein IntakeHow To Eat To Gain Muscle

This is the second most important part of your muscle building diet. Proteins are the building blocks for your body to utilize to repair up those micro tears what you make by working out with the weights. So basically you’re breaking down the muscle in the gym and making it bigger outside. How contradicting is that to the basic thought of making muscles bigger IN the gym? Well anyways let’s look at the protein now…

You should eat 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight OR 0.8 grams of protein per pound of LEAN BODY MASS!

That might be quite weird since the fitness industry and all the bodybuilders always talk about eating 2-3 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Well the exercise science says that 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight OR 0.8 grams per lean body mass is just enough to reach your full muscle building potential. Eat more than that and your body will convert the excess protein to sugar. I personally stick with the 0.8 grams per bodyweight instead of lean body mass.

If you feel the need to use Whey protein supplements to help you reach your daily protein requirements check out this article HERE!

#3 The Macro Nutrient Ratiosbrown_Rice

Now we can put together all the remaining pieces left which are how much fat and carbohydrates should take off from your daily diet plan. Stick to healthy fats and good carbohydrates to give your body the best possible enviroment to grow and stay healthy.

Let’s do a basic calculation now to figure out what we need from protein carbs and fats. As an example I’m a 180 pound man with Calorie Maintenance of 3000 kcal per day. But we want to add that 10-20% surplus so let’s go with the middle ground with 15%

  • Total Calories Per Day 3000 * 1.15 = 3450
  • Proteins (0.8 grams PPoBW) 180 * 0.8 = 144 grams * 4 = 576 calories from protein
  • Fats 25% of total calories 3450 * 0.25 = 863  calories from fats
  • Carbohydrates will make the rest of your calories 863+576 = 1439 so 3450-1439 = 2011 calories from carbs

So for percentages the macros are:fats

  • Proteins 17%
  • Fats 25%
  • Carbohydrates 58%

Now you got basically everything covered what you need to know for designing a perfect muscle building diet to grow that muscle and strength in the most optimal rate.


Ofcourse the #3 part of the article only applies to Clean Bulking since with Dirty Bulking you have to count just your proteins and eat whatever you want after that.

Another very valuable tip is to think you calories in WEEKS opposed to DAYS. So when you know your calories for the surplus multiply that with 7 and then don’t worry about hitting them every single day but if you eat a bit less for like three days compensate it at the end of the week.

By thinking in a week span rather than a day it’s much more fun and you don’t have to be a total slave to your diet and we are humans after all, we make a lot of mistakes and stuff so it’s not the end of the world.

To recap all of the important points here check out this bulletpoint list:

  • You have to be in Calorie Surplus to build muscle
  • Stick with 10-20% surplus
  • Eat 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight or pound of lean body mass
  • Fats should take about 25% of your total calorie intake
  • Carbohydrates take the rest after protein and fat
  • Think in a week span rather than day so you can compensate if you cheat or don’t eat enough

That is all there is to it folks! Check out my article on real working supplements that are worth the hype HERE!

Did you find this article helpful? Drop me a comment down below. I’d love to hear what you think!

Train hard and train SMART!

14 thoughts on “How To Eat To Gain Muscle – How To Structure Proper Diet

  1. Eitan

    Wow this breaks it down really well, you even changed a few perception errors i had, keep up the good work!

    1. Jesse Post author

      Thanks a lot Eitan! I’m happy if you got something out from this 🙂

  2. Dave

    Good point on comparing Clean and Dirty bulking. In the past…and still a little bit today, I’m guilty of dirty bulking. It is so much easier and I love to eat. Unfortunately, as you point out, the results are not is good as clean bulking. Regarding sufficient protein intake, you mention .8 grams per pound of lean mass and that sounds reasonable. Do you find that there are a lot of “experts” out there that push protein consumption beyond what your body needs, or can use?

    1. Jesse Post author

      Yeah the research suggest that for optimal muscle growth the 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight OR pound of lean body mass if sufficient. Yeah the fitness industry without a doubt tries to push the protein intake limit way too high and then offer protein powders to make up for that… All you’re really doing when consuming too much protein your eating expensive carbohydrates since the excess protein will get turned to sugar in your body.

  3. Hassan

    Hi Jesse, I love this. Normally you get one two points about eating healthy, more proteins and more calories than you’re expending to gain muscles, but you have really broken it down. I had no idea about the macro ratios. I have been out of the gym for 6 months due to my new job and being busy (excuses I know, I’ve lost the motivation), but I will be bookmarking this website and will be checking to see how I can train smart. thanks a lot for this

    1. Jesse Post author

      Hassan it’s only normal to experience setback due to life circuminstances and injuries. Just try to get the motivation back and start grinding through and make exercising a habit and something you enjoy doing. After that everything becomes easier!

  4. Chris Towers

    Great information thank you. I had to follow a good diet plan when I was training to become a Firefighter. Although I had the strength and fitness to pass the entrance tests I was told I would need to become a lot stronger.

    This information is great for people to take on extra strength and to follow the correct diet!!



    1. Jesse Post author

      Chris thank you for those words. I hope you got something out from this article! 🙂

  5. Todd

    Great site with lots of useful information. As someone who has a tendency to neglect their diet even while going to the gym regularly I find the nutrition information especially useful.

  6. Amit Prakash


    I have started to go gym one month ago. My weight is around 85 KG and Height is 6’2″. My construction is good but lean muscle at chest and hands, also abs are bigger than normal. My personal trainer is asking me to take Whey Protin and BCAA to build muscle. I personally liked your article. I ‘m not in favor of taking whey. Can you please suggest me some natural sources ( like the egg, meat, nuts etc) and what amount need to take.


    1. Jesse Post author

      Yes you definitely don’t need whey or especially BCAAs. You should aim for 1-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. That is more than enough for muscle building purposes. You included good sources in your comment already. All the best and thanks for stopping by 🙂


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