There is no ideal way of eating for building muscles or losing weight.
The human body is not a machine and adapts to the given circumstances quickly. Compare two people of exact the same height, weight, age, training experience, body shape with each other and still they will never have the same results. The metabolism is not a calculator and changes all the time!
This is also the part where stressing about every calorie/ gram of macronutrients makes no sense. The body does not recognize how many calories or grams of carbohydrates you ate that day. The body pays attention to this:
- Do I have enough food to use as fuel?
- Am I starving?
- Am I moving a lot or just sitting around all day?
Our body is always on survival mode. That is the only thing that matters. Not how much we weigh, how many grams of protein we had that day etc.
I hope this basic guide will help you understand the nutrition principles to achieve any weight loss or fitness goal of yours.
Basic nutrition tips to build muscle
Have a serving at every meal (I eat around 5-6 times per day) or at least 1.0g/lbs of dream bodyweight (you can go up to 1.3)
- Eat mostly around your workout (before and after)
- Rest day: Make one meal protein + fat only and have moderate amount of carbohydrates at the other meals
- Eat mostly complex carbohydrates like quinoa, buckwheat, whole-wheat rice, rice cakes, self-made pancakes/ cookies without sugar
- Limit sugar intake. Fruit contains a lot of sugar. Have around 2 servings of fruit per day.
- Fill up on green vegetables. They contain protein too and iron (low iron levels = slower metabolism). Eat a big salad every day for lunch and/ or dinner
- Don’t go to bed hungry. I have a big serving of carbohydrates before bed (yes, you read that right!). Carbohydrates release the hunger depressing hormone leptin which prevents binging at night. Plus you sleep better, which is very important for building muscle and weight loss.
-> Related: Eat your carbs – but reset Insulin first
-> Related: No macro was left behind – all about carbs
- Include healthy fats. Start your morning with a good amount of nut butter/ nuts/ coconut oil to start the fat burning process
- No „low fat“, „light“ products, as they are filled with sugar. Fat is not bad!
Eat 80-90% of the time „clean“ and allow yourself a treat every day or every other day. That keeps you sane and on track.
-> Related: Eat fat to lose fat
If you are counting macros
1-1.1g/ lbs of bodyweight Protein*
0.3-0.4 g/lbs bodyweight Fat
I should add: never go below 100 – 120g of carbohydrates if you want to build muscle (and also if you want to lose weight).
Low carb signals the body that it is in starvation mode due to low levels of leptin (the hunger hormone).
-> Related: The hunger hormone series
Being a med student I have to address the saying that Protein damages your kidneys. This is neither true, nor false. What matters is that you drink lots of water! Fluids help flush out the toxic products of protein. As long as you have healthy kidneys and drink enough water, there will be no negative effects of a diet higher in protein.
-> Related: The right nutrition for fat loss
Lastly, I don’t recommend the typical diet of a bodybuilder to build muscle / or “bulk”. To me, it makes much more sense to eat reasonable amounts of food to nourish my body and pay attention to my body’s signals. To build muscle, the volume and intensity of workouts should increase, so naturally the body wants more food to repair the muscles and tissues. However, it is not possible to build a lot of muscle mass at once in a natural way (without taking steroids). So, if you stuff yourself with huge amounts of foods, most of what you will have gained will be fat and just a little bit muscle.
-> Related: “Gain Muscle not Fat” Series
Ladies, if you want to gain muscle to get a shapely body but do not want to become “bulky”, you should try to gain as little fat as possible. I always aim to eat enough to maintain my weight but sometimes, if I am hungry, I eat more.
If you are currently counting calories or macros, aim to eat around maintenance to 200 calories more. You can also slowly increase your calories each week to let your body adapts to the higher amount of food by speeding up the metabolism. This is called “reverse dieting” and is an amazing technique to eat more food and burn more fat.
Are you looking for a free 4 weeks muscle building and fat loss program, with workouts and nutrition plans? Then join my “Gain Muscle not Fat” Challenge! Everyone who participated has seen great results.
Wish everyone a beautiful day. Stay strong and motivated!