Try This Muscle-Building Diet Plan For Better Results From The Gym

Timing Your Meals: Does It Matter?

Try This Muscle-Building Diet Plan For Better Results From The Gym

You’ve probably heard that increasing your protein is essential for building muscle. But you might be wondering how much protein you actually need and whether you really need to eliminate carbohydrates and fats.

For women, determining daily protein needs is relatively easy. As a rule of thumb, aim to consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day if you’re working out regularly and striving to build muscle.

That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll want to consume 150 to 225 grams of protein every day you hit the gym.

While some men might consume protein at higher rates, especially if they’re trying to bulk up, adding more protein than necessary to your diet won’t result in overnight muscles. Your body simply stores excess protein as fat.

Though working extra protein into your diet can help you build muscles, you need a mix of carbs and fats in your daily diet, too. Plan to get no more than 20 percent of your calories from fats and about 45 percent of your daily calories from carbs. Always strive for healthy sources of every type of nutrients, including whole grains, lean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Why Timing Muscle Building Foods Around Exercise Is Essential

It’s essential to plan your calorie intake carefully no matter what your weight-related goals may be, but it’s especially important to do so when you want to build muscle. After all, you need healthy foods to fuel your workouts, and you need to replenish nutrients after you’ve exercised and burned off energy.

Most nutrition experts recommend consuming a small meal or snack before your workout, typically one to three hours before you hit the gym.

Eating right before a workout could result in poor performance and a stomachache, while eating several hours before working out could mean that you’ve already burned off the energy by the time you hit your stride.

Experiment with pre-workout snacking to find out what’s best for you.

Remember that your pre-workout snack should factor into your daily calorie count, and you should aim for something that has a balance of protein and carbs. Try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of whole-grain oatmeal with fresh fruit.

After your workout, it’s even more important to refuel your body, as consuming the right mix of nutrients will help you build muscle more quickly.

Naturally, this is when your muscles need help rebuilding and replenishing the glycogen they’ve just burned. Go for a small meal with a mix of protein and carbs, such as yogurt with fruit or a turkey and vegetable wrap.

Again, make sure this snack is part of your daily meal plan and not extra calorie consumption that you haven’t accounted for.

Why the Anabolic Window Is Much Wider Than You Might Think

Over a decade ago, nutritionists and exercise enthusiasts a promoted what’s known as the anabolic window. Essentially, they believed that after a strenuous workout, everyone has a narrow window of time during which they should consume protein and carbs. Consuming a predetermined amount of nutrients within 15 to 30 minutes after a workout, they believed, was key for building muscle.

While it’s true that your body needs nutrients to replenish tired muscles after a workout, more recent studies have shown that the anabolic window isn’t nearly as small as researchers once believed. If your ultimate goal is long-term results instead of immediate positive effects, then there’s no need to worry about a narrow anabolic window.

In many ways, these newer findings represent good news. Rather than rushing to down a protein supplement shake, a quick glass of milk, or an energy bar immediately after a workout, you have much more time to give your body the nutrients it needs.

In fact, you might be able to skip the shakes and supplements altogether. If you’ve already done weekly meal prep, you’ll have plenty of time to go home and make a healthy, balanced meal after your workout while still seeing the gains you want.

How the Right App Can Help Maximize Muscle Building

As you build muscle mass and start to make the gains you want to see, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.

A healthy diet plan will make sure you’re sustaining your body and getting the right mix of proteins, carbs, and fats.

Tracking your macronutrients and monitoring your calories isn’t always easy, especially if you lead a busy life or if you need to make weekly or monthly adjustments to your nutritional needs.

Rather than doing the math in your head or carrying around a notebook, use an app to make sure your macro breakdowns are right for you.

With this app, you can choose your preferred muscle building diet plan and start tracking your daily food consumption and exercise habits.

Every time you use the app to update your day, you’ll immediately see how many more calories and nutrients you need to meet your goals. The app will even let you know if you need to up your protein intake so you can build the muscle you want.

Building muscle is a goal that’s completely within your reach, as long as you strive for a healthy balance between working out and eating right. With the right app and a solid diet and exercise plan, you can easily monitor your energy expenditure, macro breakdown, and gains to ensure you’re on track toward meeting your goals.


4 Week Bulking Transformation Diet

Try This Muscle-Building Diet Plan For Better Results From The Gym

  1. The bulk phase – the big feed. Bulk it out then lean up with a cut. 
  2. To smash the bulk phase, you need to train you mean it and feed you need it. 
  3. Bulking isn’t about eating as much, of whatever you want. It’s about feeding the muscle growth.

    Check out our top nutrition tips to support your bulking diet. 

  4. Try the Maximuscle 4 week bulking diet plan.

Packing on lean muscle is tough for even the most seasoned athlete.

Not only does your training have to be strict and well-structured around hypertrophy, your diet also needs to support your body as it grows. 

To help themselves grow, most bodybuilders will perform a bulking and cutting cycle. The bulking stage focuses on packing on as much mass as possible. Time frames vary, but the plan below is for a four-week bulk – perfect for adding extra mass before a holiday.

However, to pack on size you need to be eating healthy food, and a lot of it. To help, use an online calorie calculator to work out what your calorie ‘maintenance’ is – which is the calorie intake you need to eat each day to maintain your weight.

This will vary your height, weight, age and activity status. Typically, the guidelines state 2500 calories for men and 2000 calories for women. But in addition, you’ll need to add extra calories to ensure that you are feeding the growth.

You should start with a surplus of +20%, (approximately 500 calories). 

When you’re eating a surplus, your body will be able to use the extra energy (carbohydrate, protein and fat) to train harder and build muscle. An increase in calories goes hand-in-hand with an increase in muscle mass – but only if you eat the right food, i.e. packing in the protein. Speaking of training, click here for our Winter Bulk workout, to help get you started.

We’ve put together some nutritional information and some examples of foods to eat on your 4-week bulking diet, to help aid your bulking transformation and build a bigger body: 


When you’re bulking, you’ll need to keep yourself well hydrated. 1.5 – 2 litres per day or 6-8 glasses of water.

To increase your caloric intake, you could also drink milk for additional protein – a perfect evening drink before bed to keep that protein synthesis in the black.

You could consider a product such as Micellar Casein, for a tasty slow releasing protein powder. Fruit juices can add extra sugar which can be useful post-workout, but limit this to once or twice per week. 


Un a cut, where you need to cut down on carbohydrates, those on a bulk can and should enjoy plenty of carbs. Hence, the harder you can train, the more ly you are to build mass. Stick to wholegrains as opposed to processed refined carbs which quickly spike blood sugar and can be stored as fat. 

However, post-training simple carbohydrates are useful. They quickly spike insulin levels – and insulin increases protein synthesis and decreases muscle breakdown. 


Protein is the key nutrient when it comes to bulking transformations, as it’s the nutrient responsible for supporting lean muscle development. On a bulk, every meal should contain protein and you should aim for 2g per kg of bodyweight per day. 


Time to debunk the fat myth! Fat is energy dense and should be a firm part of your diet. It goes without saying of course, to limit the saturated or trans fat but bulk out the healthy fats – if you don’t already, grab for the peanut butter, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, oily fish. 


On a bulk, it can be tough to eat the excess calories when you don’t have an appetite. Thankfully, there are certain supplements that make life far easier. Mass gainers such as Progain or Progain Extreme can be just the support you need, as they can add calories to your diet without the need to force down a meal. 

Creatine is another great supplement and is suited to our 4-week bulk. Your first week is a loading phase and the following 3 are ‘maintenance.’ Creatine helps aid short bursts of high intensity exercise, which means you can lift a little harder, which in turn increases hypertrophy. Creatine monohydrate could be added to any drink, such as a fruit juice or protein shake. 

Meal frequency

One of the fastest ways to increase mass is to increase the frequency of your meals. It’s easy to stomach and enjoy six to eight small meals per day than it is to pack all your calories into three. Eat more, more often, that’s the key to packing on the bulk!

The Maximuscle 4 Week Bulking Diet

Your bulking transformation depends on two things: eating at a calculated calorie surplus and eating healthy food. A ‘dirty bulk’ will add too much body fat and leave you feeling bloated. 

Instead, aim to consume around 6 meals a day that pack in plenty of calories. We’ve provided plenty of options for each meal below, so mix and match to build yourself a diet that’ll help you quickly gain lean mass. 

Add veggies such as tomatoes, celery and broccoli, to whichever meal you . 

Breakfast options – select one from the following list each day. 

  • 6 egg omelette with spinach (approx. 564 kcal) 
  • Large portion of granola, whole milk and sliced banana (approx. 750 kcal) 
  • 1 or 2 bagels with peanut butter (approx. 380/760 kcal) 
  • 2 Poached eggs, salmon and avocado (approx. 550 kcal) 

Morning meal/snack options – combine these to increase calories if needed 

  • Progain flapjack (approx. 324 kcal) 
  • Progain extreme shake (600 kcal) 
  • Handful of almonds (approx. 92 kcal per serving) 
  • Apple with peanut butter (approx. 200 kcal)
  • Small portion of chicken breast, tomatoes, celery and brown rice (approx. 450 kcal) 

Lunch Options 

  • Double chicken breast, broccoli and rice (approx. 700 kcal) 
  • Salmon, sweet potatoes and sesame seeds (approx. 700 kcal) 
  • Chicken breast, salsa, brown rice and peppers (approx. 720 kcal)
  • Vegetarian bean chili burritos (approx. 900 kcal) 
  • Tinned tuna, quinoa, avocado and broccoli (approx. 500 kcal)

Snack options (select 1 or 2 per day depending on calories) 

  • Dark chocolate (a single ounce is 153 kcal. Eat as much as your surplus allows) 
  • Mass gainer shake (approx. 600 kcal) 
  • Cup of mixed nuts (approx. 640 kcal) 
  • Beef Jerky (approx. 410 kcal) 

Dinner options 

  • Tuna steak with olive oil, two sweet potatoes and quinoa (approx. 800 kcal) 
  • Sirloin steak, white rice and fried egg (approx. 950 kcal) 
  • Burger with lean beef, fries, white bread roll, cup of green beans (approx. 1450 kcal) 
  • Tuna, pasta and Bolognese sauce (approx. 600 kcal) 
  • Chili con carne with rolls of bread (approx. 700 kcal)

Example Day

Mixing up the meals above gives you a meal plan that can easily last 4 weeks. On a bulk, you can afford to have a few cheat meals – so don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember to add fruit and veggies almost at will – selecting berries and other low GI fruit to help up your calorie intake and get your 5 a day. 


  • 6 egg omelette with spinach (approx. 564 kcal) 

Morning snack: 

  • Progain Extreme shake (600 kcal) 


  • Chicken breast, salsa, brown rice and peppers (approx. 720 kcal)

Post-workout snack: 

  • Protein shake with milk (approx. 200 kcal) 


  • Tuna steak with olive oil, two sweet potatoes and quinoa (approx. 800 kcal) 

Total approx. 2884 kcal 

The beauty of bulking is that you can be flexible with your foods. Just make sure you fit in plenty of protein and keep the fatty junk food down. Your bulking transformation will net much better results if you eat lots of clean food, as opposed to big portions of junk. 

For more hints and tips on bulking, check out our bulking hacks article.


Meal Plan: Best Foods for Lean Muscle

Try This Muscle-Building Diet Plan For Better Results From The Gym

As you reduce the amount of calories you eat your body starts to burn fat for energy. But calorie cutting can make you lose muscle – so don't overdo it. The trick to get ripped fast: cut calories from carbs and eat more protein. This safeguards your muscle.

If you cut too many calories, your body thinks it's starving so it starts to conserve and store them, which reduces the rate at which you burn body fat.

The plan bypasses this survival mechanism because you'll be alternating between two workouts and meal plans. During the Get Ripped phase, eat carbs early in the morning and right before you train to give you energy to exercise.

On rest days, eat according to our Get Muscle meal plan to give you enough calories to recover properly. Oh, and follow our advice in conjunction with this correlating Get Muscle and Get Ripped workout programme for the best results.

Get Ripped Meal Plan

Try this sample meal plan during the Get Ripped phase of the programme.


4 egg whites (scrambled, fried or omelette), wholegrain bread (2 slices), oats (50g) and milk.


Hummus on oatcakes and 2 apples.


Turkey (150g), Swiss cheese and salad on wholegrain bread.


Protein shake, 2 pieces of citrus fruits and black coffee.

Only eat carbs before and after you train


Stir-fried chicken (150g) and broccoli (150g) and brown rice (150g).


Frozen yoghurt (200ml) and a protein shake.

To get ripped fast you need extra calories floating around your bloodstream, but it's important you don't get too many from carbs. Only eat carbs before and after you train to give you the energy to exercise and replace the energy you'll have lost during training.

Bracket your workouts with a protein shake to refuel your muscles when they need it most. On your rest days revert to the meal plan above to ensure you're getting enough nutrients to grow lean muscle.

Get Muscle Meal Plan

Try this sample meal plan during the Get Muscle phase of the programme.


3 whole eggs, 2 egg whites, grilled bacon, 1 tomato, 2 bagels, fruit juice.


Get Ripped meal plan

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Eat to Gain Muscle-The Role Food Plays in Strength Training

Try This Muscle-Building Diet Plan For Better Results From The Gym


Building muscle—both increasing strength and hypertrophy—requires more than just lifting weights and working out. 

The truth is that any type of body composition change, losing fat or gaining muscle, depends as much, if not more so, on diet as it does on a regular workout routine.  

Your clients looking to bulk up or just get stronger muscles or lean muscles may be gung-ho to get in the gym and lift, and that’s great. 

But make sure those dedicated clients are focusing just as much on what they eat. Educate them about macronutrients, calorie intake, and specific foods to choose and to avoid. 

Muscle gains happen slowly, but with the right diet, your clients will hit strength goals sooner. 

How Knowing What to Eat to Gain Muscle Leads to Better Results 

If you’re trying to get muscles that are bigger and stronger, working out is key. Strength training breaks down muscle tissue. During recovery that tissue rebuilds stronger and bigger.  

But, your body can’t create that new muscle tissue nothing. To make gains you have to have the right nutrients in your body to construct muscle. 

This means that what you eat, and how much, is essential in making muscle gains. Lifting and doing strength training without adequate nutrition, especially without enough protein, can actually lead to loss of muscle tissue. 

Furthermore, if you aren’t eating right you won’t have the energy to do the workouts that lead to muscle gain. 

To make the most gains in muscle mass and strength you need: 

  • Enough calories total, each day, 
  • And adequate protein to actually rebuild more muscle tissue. 

If you eat a lot of protein but not enough overall calories, you’ll struggle to be able to workout to build more muscle. 

If you eat enough calories but too much junk and not enough protein, your body won’t be able to build up muscle tissue and will gain fat instead. 

How Much to Eat When Building Muscle

When building muscle, your body needs more fuel than when it’s maintaining body composition. This can be a difficult concept for some clients to grasp. They may resist, especially those worried about gaining fat or weighing more. 

Help them understand that the extra calories will go into muscle development, not fat, as long as they are working out in the right way.

Exactly how many calories an individual needs per day when working out and gaining muscle varies. You’ll need to look at each client separately to recommend calorie intake during a muscle-building period, but generally, adding 20 to 30 grams of added protein per day is a good rule. 

Protein—The Dietary Building Block for Muscle Growth

To be fit and healthy during any kind of workout plan, your clients should be eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet. But, to focus on muscle gains, getting adequate protein is most important. 

Muscle tissue is made up largely of proteins, which is why this macronutrient is essential. Very few people in the U.S. have a hard time getting enough protein in their diet. 

This is because the typical western diet is rich in protein. Also, protein turnover in the body is pretty slow for sedentary individuals. 

For active people, especially those looking to add muscle mass, it is important to look closely at actual protein intake and make adjustments if necessary. Here are some general guidelines from research and sports science and nutrition organizations:

  • For sedentary individuals, about 0.81 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass is enough. That means a 150-pound person would eat about 55.5 grams of protein per day.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics both recommend 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of mass for active individuals. This translates to 95 to 136 grams of protein daily for someone who weighs 150 pounds
  • A recent study that analyzed 49 other studies determined that the ideal amount of protein per day for gaining muscle is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body mass. For the 150-pound client, this is 109 grams of protein per day. (1)

For a more detailed discussion of protein needs check out this ISSA blog post. 

Don’t Forget Carbohydrates

While focusing on protein intake, it can be easy to overlook the other macronutrients. A balance is important, and carbohydrates are especially necessary for fueling the tough workouts that help build muscle. 

The body will struggle to absorb more than 35 grams in one sitting, so every meal and snack should include protein along with carbs and a little bit of fat. 

Fat is important but it’s not as necessary to track. If you are eating enough protein and carbs, you ly have adequate fat in your diet. Plus, fat is easier to store in the body, so it’s hard to be deficient. 

Choosing Foods for Muscle Gain

Help your clients fuel their muscle gains with the right foods. They’ll need lean proteins, foods that are high in protein as well as micronutrients, and complex carbohydrates. 

15 of the Best Protein-Rich Foods and Complex Carbs

Choose high-quality protein-rich foods, those that also contain other nutrients. It’s also important to eat a variety of protein sources:

  • Eggs. One egg has about six grams of protein along with healthy fats and B vitamins. 
  • Chicken. Choose chicken breast for a lean source of protein, about 26 grams per three ounces. 
  • Lean beef. Beef is a good protein choice as long as you stick with lean cuts. In addition to protein, it contains creatine, known to improve athletic performance and have other health benefits. 
  • Cottage cheese. Depending on the type, cottage cheese can have as much as 25 grams of protein per serving, plus calcium. 
  • Salmon. This fatty fish is rich in both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which may contribute to muscle growth. 
  • Beans. Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and other varieties are a great lean protein source with 15 grams per cup. They also contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 
  • Tofu. Made from soybeans, tofu is an important source of protein for vegetarians and vegans and is also rich in calcium.
  • Tempeh. This fermented soybean product is less processed than tofu and so retains more micronutrient while also providing vegan protein. 

Check out this ISSA post on plant-based proteins to help guide your vegetarian and vegan clients. 

  • Greek yogurt. Yogurt is a great snack and smoothie ingredient, but choose Greek yogurt for more protein. 
  • Tuna. This is an easy protein to reach for as part of a meal or snack. It offers a lot of vitamins and 20 grams of protein in three ounces. 
  • Protein powders. While whole foods are always best, protein powders can be a good way to add in extra grams per day. Whey-based powder is a great choice, as is pea protein powder for vegans. 
  • Quinoa. This ancient grain contains about eight grams of protein per cup as well as 40 grams of complex carbs. 
  • Brown rice. Brown rice has not been refined white rice, so it contains more nutrients and protein. 
  • Peanuts. This nut- legume has 17 grams of protein in a half-cup.
  • Nuts and seeds. Add a variety of nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and others, for protein, carbs, and micronutrients. 

Knowing What to Eat to Gain Muscle Also Means Avoiding Junk

When trying to build muscle and not add fat, getting the right balance of nutrients and calories is essential. Your clients will have little room for so-called empty calories. In other words, they need to avoid junk food. 

In addition to the protein-rich foods and complex carbs, brown rice and quinoa, have your clients fill out the rest of the day’s calories with mostly vegetables. Some fruit is good too, especially before a workout. The kinds of foods that won’t help with muscle gain and that should be avoided include: 

  • Alcohol. These are truly empty calories with almost no nutritional value. Also, drinking can make it hard to work out the next day. 
  • Added sugars. Natural sugars from fruits and vegetables help fuel workouts. Added sugars in processed foods only promote fat gains. 
  • Fried and processed foods. These kinds of junk foods may have protein, but the fats and additives can increase inflammation and support putting on fat, not muscle. 

Gaining muscle is a long-term goal. If you have clients interested in putting on muscle, help them get there more efficiently and effectively with a great workout plan and a healthy, protein-rich diet.

Interested in nutrition and coaching? Check out the ISSA’s course for Nutrition. 



1. Morton, R.W., Murphy, K.T., McKellar, S.R., Schoenfeld, B.J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., Aragon, A.A., Devries, M.C., Banfield, L., Krieger, J.W., and Phillips, S.M. (2018). British Journal of Sports Medicine. 52(6), 376-84. Retrieved from



Muscle-Building Diet: Foods To Eat And Avoid

Try This Muscle-Building Diet Plan For Better Results From The Gym

Complement your workout with a muscle-building diet and recipes to get the best bodybuilding results.

RELATED: How To Maintain Weight Loss In A Healthy Way

In this article:

7 Best Foods to Help You Bulk Up

When you’re trying to bulk up, it’s important to get the proper nutrition that helps you build muscle and survive strenuous workouts. Here are seven foods that can help you with this:

1. Lean Meats

If you’re trying to build your muscles, it’s important to incorporate protein-rich foods in your diet. Your body needs grams of protein because it breaks it down into amino acids needed to build muscle mass.

It’s important to choose lean meats because you want protein without the extra calories and fat. Here are a few types of lean meat you can incorporate in your muscle-building diet plan:

  • Sirloin steak
  • Lean ground beef
  • Pork tenderloin

Beef isn’t just a great source of protein, but it’s also rich in minerals and B vitamins. Pork usually has a bad rap when it comes to healthy eating, but lean pork can help build muscle mass as well as beef and poultry.

2. Fish

Apart from being a great source of protein, fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, so foods rich in it make a great addition to any healthy muscle-building diet. Here are a few types of fish rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Tuna

Another fish worth a try is tilapia. It doesn’t have as much omega 3-fatty acids, but it’s a great source of protein and vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 helps keep nerves and blood cells healthy. When people have a vitamin B12 deficiency, it can make them feel weak and tired—symptoms you should avoid when you’re working out.

3. Poultry

Chicken breasts are a favorite among bodybuilders due to its healthy protein.

Poultry should be a staple in your muscle-building diet. It’s packed with protein and B vitamins.

Here are some types of poultry you can include in your diet:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast

Eggs are rich in leucine, an amino acid that plays an essential role in muscle gain. It regulates muscle protein synthesis and signals the need for more amino acids to increase muscle mass.

Skinless chicken and turkey breast offer high-quality protein, vitamin B6, and vitamin B3 (niacin). Vitamins B6 and B3 help transform food into energy—something you need a lot of as you pump iron.

4. Grains

You need to have some carb intake in your diet meal plan, even when you’re trying to gain lean muscle mass. Carbohydrates, grains, give you the energy you need for extended workouts.

The key is choosing the right types of carbohydrates. Here are some healthy grains you can incorporate in your diet:

Oatmeal has a low glycemic index. It can provide you the energy you need without the risk of overeating.

Quinoa not only contains carbohydrates, but it also has protein, fiber, and magnesium. Magnesium regulates muscle and nerve function.

Each cup of brown rice gives you about 880 kcal of energy. If you find yourself tiring easily during a workout, you may want to eat some healthy carbohydrates a few hours before you hit the gym.

5. Vegetable

When you’re increasing muscle gains, you need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. They help keep your bones healthy, convert food into energy, and enhance the immune system.

Vegetables are an invaluable source of various vitamins and minerals. They’re also a great source of antioxidants, which help prevent and repair cellular damage.

6. Fruits

Skip the energy drinks and opt for energy-boosting fruits instead.

There are also certain fruits beneficial for active people or athletes because of their energy-boosting properties. Here are some fruits you may want to include in your diet:

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruits (oranges or grapefruit)

Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates, vitamin B6, and potassium—all of which can help boost energy levels. Bananas are just as effective as commercial energy carbohydrate drinks.

Citrus fruits and strawberries are rich in antioxidants, which may help prevent fatigue and give you an energy boost.

7. Dairy

The calcium you gain from dairy products plays an important role in maintaining bone health. Apart from this, dairy also provides other nutrients helpful in muscle-building.

For instance, both low-fat milk and Greek yogurt contain a combination of fast-digesting and slow-digesting proteins, which can help build muscle mass.

Low-fat cottage cheese is another dairy product you may want to add to your diet as it is great for muscle-building because it is rich in protein and leucine.

3 Worst Foods and Beverages to Stay Away From

Certain foods and drinks won’t help you build muscle mass. Here are three types of foods and beverages you should try to avoid:

1. Deep-Fried Foods

Deep-fried foods are usually high in fat, cholesterol, and salt. Diets high in unhealthy fats increase your risk of obesity, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease—all of which are detrimental to your muscle-building goals.

It’s best to avoid eating fast food products French fries, fried fish, onion rings, and deep-fried chicken. Instead, try to have a healthy snack with you at all times to avoid temptation.

2. Sugar-Filled Foods and Beverages

Foods high in sugar are unhealthy, stay away from them as much as you can.

Foods and drinks high in sugar are usually full of empty calories. This means you’re filling up with calories that don’t offer any nutrients.

Avoid snacking on candies, cookies, ice cream, soda, and even sports or energy drinks. Over time, these snacks and drinks may even promote unhealthy weight gain, which may make it more difficult to build muscle mass.

3. Alcoholic Beverages

Excessive and regular alcohol can keep you from bulking up. One study shows alcohol reduces the body’s ability to synthesize protein.

It impairs muscle recovery after a workout. In the long run, you won’t be able to do as much as it limits your muscle growth.

RELATED: How To Arouse A Man With Low Testosterone

Muscle-Building Recipes to Try

Now that you have an idea which foods you should and shouldn’t include in your diet, it’s time you incorporate them into your daily recipes.

1. Pasta with Hearty Sauce

This recipe can give you ample carbs for energy before your workout or strength training and help replenish glycogen stores after the activity. It also gives you protein from the chicken breast.


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 28 g whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 85 g cubed chicken breast

Just follow the instructions on the label on how to cook the pasta and then cook the other ingredients in olive oil, except the sauce.

Combine the sauce with the pasta before serving. You can sprinkle some cilantro on top to spice up this dish.

2. Grilled Steak with Avocado-Tomato Salad

Pork or beef steak is rich in protein, and you can use this recipe either for lunch or dinner. What’s surprising is avocados contain healthy fats that increase growth hormone and testosterone production, which is essential for muscle-building.

What you need are top round steak (113 g), avocado (half), and a tomato. Cut both avocado and tomato into smaller slices and make them into a healthy salad.

3. Strawberry Cream Smoothie

You can also enjoy a muscle-building smoothie. Protein powder can supply your body with the added protein you can use for activities that need high energy workouts.

Strawberry has polyphenols responsible for protecting cells from damage and for reducing muscle pain. What you need for this recipe are:

  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 scoop protein powder

Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

4. Chocolate Nut Shake

This protein shake recipe provides the right amount of the macronutrient protein you need in a day because of the all-natural peanut butter ingredient. Peanut butter can also give you the potassium that can aid in decreasing the risk of muscle cramps after a workout.

What you need are:

  • 2-3 cubes of ice
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 cups chocolate milk
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder

Melt the peanut butter first, so you achieve a good consistency when you mix it with the other ingredients. Then, combine all the ingredients together.

5. Spinach Omelet

Making an omelet requires eggs as the primary ingredient, which is a great source of high-quality protein, B vitamins, and healthy fats. Spinach has compounds that aid in muscle-building by speeding up the conversion of protein to muscle mass.

Secure these ingredients:

  • 1 peach
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 slice cheese (cut into small pieces)

Combine eggs, spinach, cheese in a bowl and mix them well before cooking. Cut peach into small slices and insert them into the omelet’s fold.

6. Bibb Lettuce Burger

If you love burgers, you can include it in your muscle-building diet plan with this recipe. Lean beef is rich in creatine, various minerals, B vitamins, and high-quality protein that may help raise the amount of lean mass gained when paired with weight training.

Creatine Definition: A substance present in muscle cells that aids the muscles in creating energy when a high-intensity exercise or heavy lifting is performed

Lettuce is high in potassium and keeps you feel energized during exercise. The ingredients you need for this recipe are:

  • 3 cups green beans
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 slices red onion
  • 2 slices tomatoes
  • 227 g ground beef (lean)
  • 2 leaves lettuce

Create your own patty using ground beef, and don’t forget the burger buns. Use the patty as your base for your burger and then pile the remaining ingredients in your order of preference.

7. Berry Overnight Oats

What’s good about this recipe is you prep it overnight so you can easily grab it in the morning, especially when your time is limited. Oats are a great food option for a healthy muscle-building diet because they contain proteins and carbs for repairing and strengthening muscles.

What you need for this recipe are:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened milk of preference
  • 1 strawberry
  • Blueberries

Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl and then place it in an airtight jar before storing it in the fridge overnight.

8. Brown Rice with Ground Beef

Aside from being one of the best protein sources, beef also possesses muscle-building nutrients zinc and iron. Zinc contributes to the synthesis of muscle protein, an activity where protein becomes part of your muscles.

Iron ensures your muscles are functioning properly as it helps in creating new hormones, proteins, and cells and in workout recovery.


  • 453 g lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 3 cloves garlic

Cook rice first. In a separate skillet, cook beef and garlic until meat is no longer pink.

Add the remaining ingredients, except rice, until well cooked. Place them on top of your rice and serve.

9. Salmon Fillet with Sweet Potato and Salad

You can also enjoy seafood recipes such as this when you try to gain muscles. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and B vitamins, which are all important for building muscles.

Your salad is a great source of nutrients for growing muscles zinc, plant-based protein and carbs, and potassium. Make sure to load your salad with mostly leafy greens because they have the highest nutrient content.

What you need are:

  • 1 serving pineapple
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 baked regular-sized sweet potato
  • 1 large salad (with veggies of your choice)

Make sure to season fillets with pepper and salt to taste before cooking them.

If you want to make your salmon fillet sauce more flavorful, add a little amount of lemon juice. You can also add some lemon wedges around the fillets.

Building muscle mass requires commitment inside and outside of the gym, which includes the best muscle-building diet plan. If you want to maximize your exercise and bodybuilding results, it’s important to be mindful of your diet.

Your diet can set you back, or it can help you reach your goals. If you’re at a loss about where to start, contact the LIV Health team today.

Our integrative health specialists can help you with your fitness goals. It isn’t always easy to make lifestyle changes, but a little help can go a long way.

What other foods or beverages do you incorporate into your muscle-building diet? Do you have tips to make your workout routine more effective in building muscles? What are they? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 2, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.