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HomeHealth & FitnessNutrition 101: Eat to Build Lean Muscle

Nutrition 101: Eat to Build Lean Muscle

When we talk about building muscle mass, the majority of people believe that their workout routine is the most important factor that can help them do that. While regular exercise that combines weight resistance training and cardio is a big factor for building lean muscle, nutrition is still a crucial part of the process.

Without the right diet to support your workout efforts, building lean muscle successfully and efficiently will be very challenging. So, make sure to follow these essential lean muscle diet principles.

Consume the Right Amount of Lean Protein

Protein is a crucial nutrient that’s responsible for keeping the muscles and bones healthy. It also helps the body produce the needed energy for proper daily functioning. For instance, a typical daily intake of 2000 calories needs to include at least 50 grams of protein.

The easiest way to calculate how much protein your body needs per day is to use your weight as a guide. Namely, if you’re very physically active, consume about 2 grams of protein per one kilogram of your weight. On the other hand, if you’re not physically active, lower that amount to 1 gram of protein per one kilogram of your weight max.  

Great food sources of lean protein include:

  • Lean beef

  • Tofu

  • Beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Low-fat cottage cheese

  • Plain Greek yogurt

  • Veggies: broccoli, sprouts, asparagus, and artichokes

Increase the Intake of Fruits and Veggies

Thanks to their rich content of fiber, fluids, vitamins, and minerals, fruits and veggies are a great aid in building lean muscle. Aside from the mentioned veggies, don’t hesitate to include other options in your lean muscle diet such as leafy greens, beet, apples, oranges, cantaloupe, etc.

For Dairy, Go the Low-Fat Route

If you don’t consume dairy products, you can just ignore this tip. But the fact of the matter is that dairy is a rather great option for building muscle. And if you’re looking to build lean muscle, it’s important to focus your attention on low-fat dairy products as they present a rich source of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Skimmed milk is especially helpful in this case.

Include Complex Carbs in Your Diet

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to build lean muscle is to cut their carb intake considerably from their diet, or sometimes even completely. However, carbs play a rather important role in muscle growth and energy production.

If you’re still afraid of the carbs in your diet, simply address your levels of physical activity. Just like with the protein intake, do the calculations based on your weight. For intensive workout sessions, you’ll need to consume 6-10 grams of carbs per one kilogram of what you weigh. On the other hand, lighter exercising amounts to 3-5 grams of carbs per one kilogram of your weight.

When we say that you should consume carbs, we’re thinking of complex carbohydrates. So, forget about the simple carbs such as white bread and focus your attention on whole-grain foods.

Eat Healthy Fats

Just like you need both carbs and protein for your body to function properly and build lean muscle, you also need healthy fats. After all, they are a great energy source as well. When we talk about healthy fats, we mean the so-called unsaturated fats that are abundant in foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.

It’s All About the Timing

Learning the food essentials for a lean muscle diet is all good, but in order for this diet to work its wonders, you have to stick to a specific meal timing. Essentially, you should always strive to eat your meals at about the same time every day, with about 3-4 hours in between the meals. This aspect of the lean muscle diet can be the most challenging for a great number of people; if that’s the case for you too, you can try muscle gain meal plans to make things easier for yourself. In general, you should always have between 3 to 5 meals a day.  

Be Mindful of Portion Control

Everyone is different. In that respect, the amount of food that you have to eat may be completely different compared to someone else with the same goal. That said, it would be best to discuss this with a nutritionist so that you can come up with an adequate daily calorie intake for you personally. 

Just because you may be going to the gym every day doesn’t mean you get to eat as much as you want. Building muscle may end up increasing your daily food intake, but you’ll also have to balance the calories to maintain a healthy weight.


In order to build lean muscle in a healthy and effective way, you should eat nutritious food throughout the day (at right intervals), avoid skipping your meals, and get your dose of exercise – but also the much-needed rest.

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