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How to Eat to Build Muscle

Many people put less emphasis on diet and concentrate more on training when trying to build muscle. This is a classic mistake and by not eating properly your training programme will suffer. I repeatedly tell my clients that the time spent in the gym is only half the battle when trying to build muscle. The other half is the food that you eat, and when you eat it.

Here’s a few pointers to help you eat right in your quest to build muscle:

1. Eat More Calories

The average male needs around 2500 calories per day for maintenance. If you’re looking to build muscle you’ll need more though, so you should try to raise this to around 3000 calories. Some will be burned off during workouts while the rest will be used in the growth and repair of your muscles.

2. What should you eat?

The advice that I give to everyone is to try and avoid processed foods. Most processed foods are high on calories and have little or no nutritional value – these are empty calories. Foods like crisps, ready meals and fizzy drinks contain empty calories and you should try to avoid them. Eating natural foods will give the most nutritional benefit. Stick to fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains to give you the carbohydrates that you require, while foods like chicken and fish will give you the protein you need.

3.Finding the Right Balance

You’ll need carbohydrates to fuel your workouts, so they should take up most of your daily calorie intake – you should aim for around 60% which is 450g if you consume 3000 calories.

20g of your daily intake should be protein, which helps to grow and repair muscle tissue. Foods like eggs, chicken and fish are great sources. Aim for 1.5g per lb of body weight.

Your body also needs fats and this should be the other 20% of your daily intake. Avoid saturated fats and remember that fat is twice as calorie dense than protein or carbs.

4. Timing your Meals

When working out you should eat about an hour before your workout and immediately after. Before the workout go for a snack high in carbohydrates to fuel your training. Post workout I usually go for a protein shake immediately after, and then a small meal consisting of carbs and protein about an hour after.

During the rest of the day eat small meals every 2-3 hours, trying to include some protein in every meal. This will prevent the body from breaking down the protein needed for the muscles.

5. Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is important if you want to perform to the best of your ability in the gym. Dehydration can leave you feeling weak and tired, and can also have an effect on how your body repairs muscle. We are advised to drink 2.5 litres of water per day but on workout days you should probably drink a bit more.

6. Nutritional Supplements

Nutritonal Supplements such as protein shakes or bars can be a convenient way to add protein to your diet. Do your research before buying, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program.