I am currently completing the Muscle Building Bible, using the advanced nutrition and training sections (there are beginner and intermediate sections too!) in order to help me build lean muscle and strength. Building muscle is a more complex process than dropping weight/fat, given you have to ensure sufficient protein and calorie intake, progressive overload and consistency (especially as a more advanced trainer), rather than simply being in a calorie deficit more often than not.
For those of you who are naturally slender, and or really struggle to gain muscle size (or weight in general), getting sufficient calories into your diet in a sustainable, enjoyable and inexpensive manner can become troublesome and tiresome. It can become a long slog if you choose to do a ‘clean bulk’, which is unnecessary and will result in an even greater volume of food consumed.
The fact of the matter is that if you base 75-80% of your calories on traditionally healthy sources, then making up the rest of your calories with foods you enjoy will not undo the health benefits (or effect you progress if your protein and calories are on target). This means instead of having a portion of rice, potato or oats that upsets the balance and enjoyment of your meal, you can simply supplement an enjoyably portioned meal with calorie dense options such as sauces, cheese, nuts or chocolate for example. This also lessens time spent eating, and the premature feelings of fullness that traditionally skinnier people with smaller appetites will want to learn to limit.
For reference here, I am 92kg and an ectomorph, and am currently consuming 3700 calories on my training days, with the following macronutrient targets:
- 200g protein
- 400 – 500g carbs
- 100 – 140g fat
- 40-50g fibre (10-15g per 1000 calories consumed)
Breakfast; moderate carbs, high fat
2 slices of bread with peanut butter (50g), topped with a sliced medium/large banana
2 slices of seeded bread with butter & marmite
Bacon, scrambled eggs topped with cheese and a bagel with butter
Lunch; low/moderate carbs, high fat
2 x breaded chicken fillet burgers, falafel kofta and salad.
2 x pita breads stuffed with 2 lean steak burgers, halloumi, salad & garlic mayo
Tuna burgers, sweetcorn, vegetables, microwave grains, mayonnaise.
Pre workout; high carb, moderate fat
150g oats, 25g whey protein, cinnamon, 280ml whole milk, 50g frozen fruit. Topped with 3 teaspoons of chia seeds and a heaped teaspoon of cocao powder.
Meal deal; lower fat/higher protein sandwich, crisps, green juice.
20 minutes before training:
Double espresso (or 2-3 teaspoons of instant coffee) & 5g creatine monohydrate
Sugar free monster (if fasted/long period since last meal a sugar monster is fine) and 5g creatine monohydrate
You do not have to have creatine pre workout. We suggest 3-5g every day, and trying to have it at the same point each day. More info on the supplement here.
Dinner; high carb, moderate fat
2 wraps, uncle Ben’s spicy Mexican rice, lean steak mince (fajita spice mix), soured cream, guacamole, cheese.
Bowl of lower fat cereal and semi-skimmed milk
Possible snacks and calorie dense additions to meals:
- Coconut and olive oil
- Mass gainer shake
- Dried fruit
- Nut butters
- Sauces and condiments
- Takeaway/shop bought options
- Powdered oats
This meal plan is an example of the volume of food and meals I choose from on an average day. If you are a hard gainer, you needn’t worry about going over your calorie goal due to social events, but if you are historically higher body fat and wishing to account for meals and nights out then read more here.
I aim for around 700-800 calories at breakfast and lunch, and around 900-1100 pre and post workout. If I do not reach my calorie goal of 3700 then I may use snacks from the list above; with healthier choices if my nutrition has not been bang on, or ‘junk food’ options if it has been a healthy, balanced intake (or I’m needing lots of kcals quickly).
To build muscle you also need to be increasing both your strength and the total volume (= weight [sets x reps]) used per muscle group per week – this is called progressive overload, which you can read more about here. This is another reason why mostly intermediate trainers stall in their progress, as they stick to the same 8-12 rep ranges and same weights, and don’t progress their calories incrementally if required.
Our Muscle Building Bible covers progressive practices in regards to both your training and specific nutrition, whilst also breaking down properly tracking your progress, lifestyle optional supplementation and discounts and more in the market-leading e-guide.