Muscle Building Diet (Without Getting Fat)

A muscle building diet is not your normal diet.

It’s designed to help you gain weight using a lot of protein rich foods (which are not always cheap food sources).

Yes, muscle building diets are not normal.

Note: The proper definition of a diet refers to the food choices you make on a daily basis.  Whether it’s soda, tuna or bread.  That is your diet. Often people refer to the word diet with fat loss, starvation and pain, which is incorrect use of the word diet.

The Goals Of A Muscle Building Diet:

  • To add quality muscle mass to your frame without adding fat.

Here is a 7-point plan to achieve the amount of muscle mass you need to shock your friends when you rip your shirt off at the next pool party.

1. Stick To A Muscle Building Diet Year Round

I remember asking my Skinny Guy Savior (the ex-pro bodybuilder) what his secret to adding mass without fat and he says, “I stick to my diet year round.  I eat the same foods in my offseason that I eat when I’m getting ready for a show.”

The exceptions were the use of certain condiments and sauces with his meats in the on-season, but he still used organic and quality cuts of meat in the offseason.  He didn’t flip from chicken to sausages, or from eggs to bacon even though he enjoyed the fattier options.

I stress that young bodybuilders still exercise discipline and cut back on unhealthy foods that are not on their regular muscle building diet during their offseason.

The best way to deal with your favorite (unhealthy) foods is to include them on your treat days (I use the word treat instead of cheat).

A muscle building diet is much better served by eating larger quantities of food that are clean rather than from junk calories.

2. “Where’s The Protein?”

Think of the memorable quote from Chazz Reinhold (Will Ferrell) in the movie Wedding Crashers when he yells, “You hungry? Ma, can we get some meatloaf!”

That is the first thing you should consider before preparing your meal, but more accurately, “Where’s the protein?”

I suggest at least 1.5 to 2 grams of protein for every pound of lean muscle mass.  So if you’re 200 lbs and 10% fat then you have 180 lbs (200 x .20)of lean muscle on your body, which would be a minimum of 270 grams of protein a day (180 x 1.5).

I endorse a wide variety of protein consumption and to not stick to bland and boring chicken breast all the time.  On top of chicken your body needs low-fat fish, fatty fish, lean cuts of steak, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and mixture of dairy products.

During busy times it’s okay to get your protein consumption from high protein supplements such as Blue Star Nutrition’s Iso-Smooth (use the code “maximize” if you order to get a free shaker bottle).

Iso-Smooth delivers the majority of it’s calories from protein, so it’s a perfect choice when you’re having trouble getting all your protein needs from whole foods.

If you’re having a hard time getting all your calories, combine Iso-Smooth with some ice cream, frozen fruit, and whole milk and this will young bodybuilders without appetities make some big gains.

  • A typical breakfast could consist of whole eggs and egg whites.
  • A mid morning snack could consist of a chicken breast.
  • Lunch could consist of  some turkey breast.
  • A pre workout meal could consist of cottage cheese and almonds.
  • A post workout meal could consist of a whey isolate protein like Iso-Smooth from Blue Star Nutrition.
  • Dinner could consist of a lean steak or fatty fish like salmon.
  • A pre bedtime snack could be cottage cheese and nuts or hard boiled eggs.

3. Drop The Junk Food

For one junk food is high in one kind of fat you want to avoid at all costs in your muscle building diet: trans-fatty acids.  They turn the muscle building switch off.

As where “good fats” turn the muscle building switch on, junk fold does the complete opposite.  Junk food contains a boatload of chemicals, preservatives, stabilizers and tenderizers that simply aren’t found in natural home-cooked fresh foods.

These bad substances toxify the body by a process called oxidation, increasing catabolism (i.e. muscle breakdown) at the cellular level.

Oxidation leads to free-radical production and hampers the muscle building process.  You already cause enough free-radical production with training in the gym, so don’t make it worse by delighting in foods that more free-radical damage in your body.

To build an extreme physique, your internal environment must be geared towards countering muscle damage instead of recovering from junk food toxicity.

Junk food cakes your body in pollutants that must be cleansed out later, healthy foods which are loaded with antioxidants, battle against free radicals.

Bottom line, eating junk food will lead to you being small and sick, while eating fresh foods equates to being healthy and thick.  You always have a choice, eh?

4. Maintain A Regular Meal Cadence

The biggest mistake beginner bodybuilders make with their muscle building diet is missing meals by not having a regular meal cadence.  This leads to not eating enough meals and not getting enough calories to grow.

Not many bodies can handle only 2-3 large meals a day without getting fat.  Especially as you get older, the importance for smaller, more frequent meals is necessary, which keeps your energy levels up and curbs your hunger.

I recommend young bodybuilders develop a meal cadence of eating every 3-4 hours which will deliver 5-6 meals a day.  It’s better to start your first meal as early in the day as possible (I get the best results starting my first meal at 6 a.m. and my last meal at 6 p.m.).  Your first meal should always be consumed within 20-minutes of waking up.

The secret is to find a meal cadence that prevents you from getting hungry.  This can be a indication that your body is catabolic (breaking down muscle for energy).

5. Enjoy Foods Your Body Enjoys

If you end up in the washroom after drinking too much dairy, you should cut it out or try to cut back on it and see what happens.

That goes for any kind of protein or carbohyrdate.  It makes zero sense to eat foods that your body can not tolerate or results in indigestion.

On the flip side, if you find certain proteins that work very well for you then find a variety of ways to consume them so you can maximize their benefits.

Every up and coming bodybuilder needs to figure out what foods work best for him by listening to his own body and taking clues.  Over time you’ll have your own “Top muscle building diet” foods that you can thrive on.

6. Respect The Use Of Carbohydrates

Probably the biggest challenge of a muscle building diet is eating the right kinds of carbs at the right times. Especially when your goal should be at least 2 grams of carboydrates per pound of lean body mass.

So for our 200 pound bodybuilder at 10% fat (180 lbs of lean muscle), he should consume at least 360 grams of carbs a day.

The majority of your caloric manipulation should come from carbohydrates.  For example, if you’re gaining weight but it appears to be fat, cut your carbs.  If you’re not gaining weight or muscle fast enough, add more carbs.

Consider that not all carboydrates are created equal. Rely on quality carbs that have a slow-releasing factor which makes them less likely to be stored as body fat.

Rely on slow-releasing carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal and whole-grain bread.  If you’re ultra skinny then eat more fast-digesting carbs like white-potatoes, white rice, bananas, white pasta, and cereals.

The best time to consume any kind of carb in your muscle building diet is when your body deserves them:

  • Breakfast
  • Pre Workout Meal
  • Post Workout Meal

Approximately 75% of your carbs should be consumed between these three meals.  So for our 200 pound man, he would consume 270 grams (360 x .75) spread out over these three meals which is 90 grams of carbs each meal.

7. Rely On “Good Fats”

I’ve never really focused on counting my fat intake, I don’t think you need to either.  For fat intake, focus on what not to eat: trans-fats as discussed above.

Maintain some saturated fat from steak and butter, especially when you want to gain some size, but don’t go out of your way to look for them.

Ensure each meal includes some olive oil and you consume a few handfuls of mixed nuts. Including some natural peanut butter or almond butter is also an excellent way to enjoy your muscle building diet.

Question: What is your muscle one muscle building diet strategy?

Post your comments below.

Vince Del Monte

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10 Responses to “Muscle Building Diet (Without Getting Fat)”


  1. FitnessQuests

    These kids are not playing around anymore. I didn't know what a circuit was at 13. Good job Tal

  2. FitnessQuests

    1000 calories of oatmeal sounds like a lot of oatmeal. Tasty looking recipe though.

  3. Chris

    Nice post vince, i think the best point is number 3 'Drop the junk food' Just from dropping junk foods and drinks and making no other changes to your diet you can get rid of so much body fat.

  4. Beast

    can i use prograde protein for both post workout and an easy meal?

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    what is the cheapest high quality natural protein powder?

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  9. Sean

    Yes, use prograde protein for between meals, snack, or just before bedtime and use prograde workout for post-workouts. It is a good combo and the best stuff on the market.

  10. rishabh

    hey vince
    my height is 5"6 and am 72 kg..
    i saw ur uploads on youtube and was following tht, incresed my intesity in weight…doing lots of weight and evn cardio..bt instead of loosing i hv gain few kg..and am 74 now in a week
    what to do?