A Simple Diet Approach to Building Pure Muscle

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I gotta be honest with you guys……

The nutrition and muscle building industry really make eating a lot more complicated than it has to be.

They say that you have to eat these exact nutrient ratio’s to build muscle, you have to eat at precise meal times and you have to eat xxx times per day………. The list goes on and often times most of the rules conflict with each other!

Well I got news for you – this is complete BS.

In fact, a muscle building diet is very simple. You really don’t have to eat 6-8 meals a day……. Unless you want to put on a bunch of FAT and not have a life! Seriously who can live normally eating 6-8x per day?

The truth is and this is what I recommend: three meals per day plus two protein shakes is perfect for building solid muscle.

Remember this guys:

Your body can only put on so much muscle and any EXTRA calories that are not being used to build muscle will be stored as fat!

So from my experience if you’re getting plenty of rest and lifting weights 3-5x per week your body has the potential to put on 0.5-1.0 lbs of muscle per week. That’s IT! Nothing MORE.

Stop listening to the muscle magazines and infomercials that CLAIM you can put on 10 lbs of muscle in 10 days. This just isn’t gonna happen. I mean if this was possible then almost every guy would be muscular.

For those that say they put on 10-20 pounds of MUSCLE in a MONTH. Well there’s no way. Even on steroids this is unlikely. Chances are they probably gained 10-20 pounds in a month – mostly of fat.

Besdies 0.5-1.0 lbs of muscle in a week isn’t bad at all. Especially if you’re doing strategic muscle building that makes that 5 pound muscle gain look like 15+.

In three months of training you can put on 6-12 pounds of muscle and it will probably look like you gained 20 especially because you didn’t put on any fat!

Now it takes 2500 calories to build a pound of muscle. So by knowing this you only really have to eat 200-400 calories above maintenance (the number of calories it takes to maintain your weight) to reach a muscle gain goal of 0.5-1.0 lbs per week. This could be as simple as adding one or two protein shakes into your daily diet. Seriously this isn’t very complicated at all.

This is why the whole bulking up bodybuilder approach to muscle building is complete nonsense. These guys eat 1000-2000 calories above maintenance and most of that converts to fat. But for some reason these guys think that if they eat WAY ABOVE their maintenance level they will force their body into gaining more muscle! Sorry the body doesn’t work like that.

Here’s a sample meal plan that I would recommend for someone that wants to build muscle

Breakfast:

3-4 egg spinach omelette

piece of fruit

complex carbs – gluten free cereal

or

Protein Shake

Lunch

Chicken/Steak/Fish

Veggies

Brown Rice or Sweet Potatoes

or

Sub / Sand-which and fruit

Post Workout Meal

Protein Shake

Dinner

Steak/Chicken/Fish

Yams, Brown Rice Pasta, Wild Rice or Brown Rice

Salad or Veggies

Snack

Protein Shake

Notes and Recommendations

  • The goal here is to get plenty of protein, vitamins/nutrients and only about 200-400 calories above maintenance
  • Track your progress every week to see if your improving. I recommend measuring your waist circumference and weight. The goal is for your weight to increase about 0.5-1.0 lbs per week without your waist increasing. If you gain any fat then reduce your calories – if you aren’t gaining at least 0.5 lbs per week then increase your calories.
  • I recommend supplementing with a natural multi vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Veggie Greens by Progressive is one I recommend
  • It is also a good idea to take an omega 3 fish oil supplement. There are so many benefits to fish oils / omega 3’s including testosterone functioning
  • Protein Supplement I recommend is Gold Standard All Natural Whey

My New Bulking Nutrition Plan 

If you want to build muscle while getting even leaner, I’d suggest reading my new article on a nutrition plan for lean bulking.

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  • admin

    hey thanks!
    Appreciate it.

  • http://www.ironmode.com Matt@Natural Bodybuilding

    Excellent article about simplifying the muscle building process. I will come back for more – great stuff.

  • Michael

    Thank you for writing this. You really just made things so much more simple. I’m following Visual Impact Muscle Building as well, and the diet part has been an issue with me, trying to figure out how many meals to eat so i gain muscle, but dont gain bodyfat.

  • Michael

    Would you eat this same diet on days you dont workout as well?

    • admin

      Yes! The only difference is that you woudn’t have the post workout meal.

  • dave

    great post, I’ve watched a few of your videos on youtube and on a few of them you mentioned to eat 5 times a day, small meals. which should i follow? again great post

    • admin

      Its up to you. Whatever works for you is what you should do. I just want to let you know that it doesn’t matter if you eat 1 meal per day or you eat 8 meals per day. Its about how many calories you are putting into your body. Scientific studies have proved this. They proved that eating 5-8 meals per day doesn’t increase your metabolism at all.

  • Craig

    How would this diet differ to a cutting diet where you wanted to lose fat but regain muscle?

  • Michael

    If you drink 2 protein shakes a day, wouldn’t that be in essence of having 5 meals a day? 3 meals + 2 protein shakes(replacements as meals)?

    Also would drinking 1 or 2 protein shakes a day make a difference? Could you get over Maintenance with just 1?

    • admin

      Yes you can fine tweak it to your needs.
      You can start by just having one protein shake per day. However you have to take into account that your body is going to be burning additional calories of lifting weights. Therefore you have to eat a few hundred more calories just to reach maintaince than 200-400 more calories to gain muscle.

  • http://edmund4887daniel.terapad.com/index.cfm?fa=contentNews.newsDetails&newsID=1214256&from=list Destiny Foulke

    Really appreciate you sharing this post. Great.

  • austin greer

    hey im 15 and im 127lbs i wanna add weght and muscle mass so i can be 245lbs when im 18 i figure with hard work i can do it? but how can i do it i read this but it dosentt seem like there are any carbs or anything?

    • admin

      Of course there are carbs. You have to eat carbs just not as much as the food pyramid tells you.

      245 pounds is very, very heavy. Arnold was 6’1.5″ and he was 240 pounds. This blog is not about gaining monstrous amounts of weight. There are many other sites and forums for that.

      This post is about building muscle without any fat. Unless your taking large amounts of steroids there is no way your gonna be 245 lbs without being overweight. Why do you even want to be 245?

  • austin greer

    would this diet help me add weight too though? and for pro wrestling, and i wanna follow this diet and add muscle mass because im so skinny i wanna add some weight though too instead of losing weight

    • admin

      Yes you will add weight. However since you are a teenager you can get away with eating a little bit more as your body is going to naturally be putting on muscle because of all the hormones coursing through your veins.

  • austin greer

    this is hard? i mean its hard for me to eat 2,500 calories a day and its a lot of calories for me to eat in the 3 meals its like 800 calories?! what should i do? i really dont wanna bulk up ill get fat i wanna add muscle and add weight here and there.

  • Kodge

    Great article mate. I was just wondering how long before sleeping should you have your last meal. And should you avoid carbs all together in your last meal?

    • admin

      Thanks man!
      Ideally you want your last meal to be 3 hours before you go to sleep. When you sleep your body naturally releases large amounts of Growth Hormone (growth hormone is your best friend when it comes to building muscle and burning fat). If you eat before going to bed (especially high carb meals) your insulin levels rise forcing GH levels to be minimized. In addition your more likely to store fat if you eat before going to bed. If you worked out before your last meal you can have carbs with your meal. Just make sure you have lots of protein too.

      Hope this helps,

      Greg O’Gallagher!

  • Jon

    OK, WOW. I am much older (45) and in need of an overhaul :-) I am coming off a foot injury received in May 2010 in Afghanistan (Mortar attack) broken left calcaneus and a big hole left. I am now back and walking without a limp and very little pain, but need to lose weight and get a “healthy” body back..I gained quite abit while on crutches and rehab..so now it is time to get back. What advice do you have for someone like me? The diet is a given.. going to veggies and fruit/lean meat, egg… follow your 3 a day advice..but what about workouts?
    Thanks,
    Jon

    • admin

      Hey! Checkout this post on the best fat burning workout – http://www.kinobody.com/138/the-ultimate-fat-burning-workout/

      In addition I am working on a program for giving the best fat loss benefits – http://www.kinobody.com/717/3-day-workout-split/

      Your diet should be focused on protein, protein and protein. Eating lean protein in every meal is the trick to losing fat. Keeps you full, feeds your muscles and if you keep your carb intake low you will melt fat easily. In addition to protein you want to eat lots of veggies. Think meat and greens. Fruit in moderation is fine too. Avoid carbs for the most part.

    • admin

      When it comes to losing weight it really comes down to diet. Cardio and workouts are just gonna speed up the process.
      I would start with walking. Build up to 45 minutes per day. In addition I would lift weights for your upperbody. Since your upperbody isn’t injured. You can follow my 3 day split for a super shredded physique – http://www.kinobody.com/717/3-day-workout-split/
      just leave out the circuits and intervals

  • Tim

    Sylvester Stallone recommends making your main meat source fish.

    I would agree.

    • admin

      Yes that would be a good idea only that fish contain large amounts of toxins – mercury and PCB’s. Therefore its not good to have fish more than a couple times per week.

  • kodge

    Hey Greg,

    Your answer to my previous question was very helpful, thanks. I am just curious as to how much carbs, protein and fat you consume a day. With protein most people say to consume 1 to 1.5g per pound. However, with carbs some people say to consume 1g per pound whilst some same to consume as high as 3g per pound. I weigh 160 pounds and i want to clean bulk. My maintenance calories is 2400. How many grams of carbs should i consume? Thanks in advance

    kodge

  • Michael

    Hey Greg, I just found your article and its really useful. I’m kind of confused on how many calories I would need to gain muscle. Right now I’m 5’8 140 pounds and I want to gain 15 pounds to be 5’8 155 pounds. How many calories should I be eating each day?

    • admin

      Shoot for about 250-500 calories above maintenance per day. This will allow you to gain 3-5 pounds per month. This can be accomplished by adding an extra 1 or 2 protein shakes into your daily meal plan.

  • Michael

    Thanks Greg, is their a tool or a way that I could calculate my maintenance per day?

  • Michael

    Thanks Greg, last question I have around 12-15 percent body fat according to my weight scale. I’m only 5’8 140 pounds right now, but I’m not sure If I should work on getting below 10 percent body first or to start gaining weight and building muscle. What you think I should do? Is it possible for me to reduce my body fat and stay at 140.

  • Frank

    What is the guys name in the picture above?

    • admin

      Nick Auger

  • Michael

    Thanks Greg, Lastly can I use your workout and visual impact? Which one is better for muscle gain? Also how long can I stay on your routine before my body adapts? Thanks again.

  • Michael

    Also Greg I used the calorie tool you gave me. According to the calculator I should be eating around 2200-2300 calories to maintain weight. So should I be eating around 2700 calories to gain weight and will i need to eat more calories If I use your 5 day a week routine.

  • Michael

    Hello?

  • http://www.bloomtofit.com Srdjan – Bloom to Fit

    Do you think adding creatine to the mix would boost results?

    • admin

      Yes for sure! Creatine is one of the few supplements that is scientifically proven to help increase muscle mass and strength. However I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. Only for those with at-least a couple years of experience strength training. Beginners tend to experience pretty rapid results as it is. Therefore it is better to save the extra kick when things plateau.

  • http://www.bloomtofit.com Srdjan – Fitness Bloomer

    Thanks for the tip man. I’ve been strength training for a while now so I don’t consider myself a beginner. I just got myself a new batch of creatine so I’m pumped to get started (no pun intended).

  • gareth scott

    article is spot on mate, I’m 5’11 and weight 180 pounds, weight train 4 times a week but i also do intense boxing training twice a week, how many more calories if any will i need to add because I do cardio? Also are those shakes with milk or water? cheers.

    • admin

      You probably burn around 600 extra calories on your boxing days. So on those two days I would bump it up by 600 plus 200-400 to gain weight. Although if you find it very easy go gain weight I would lower that.

      You can mix it with water or milk. My favorite option is to mix it with unsweetened almond milk.

  • Eduardo O

    Hey man thanks for the advice with the food, today I tried to Spartacus workout I sweet like crazy, my question is is I do cardio at the end of my weight workout could I possibly burn muscle mass with fat? I just want to loose some fat but mantain my muscle, thanks man again.

    • admin

      If you don’t want to lose muscle then either do intense sprints or intervals for cardio or perform low intensity cardio at 65%-70% of your heart rate (walking on a treadmill at 3.5-4 mph with an incline of 6-12 degrees).

      Steady State cardio at 75-85% of your heart rate is what can cause some muscle loss.

  • Ct

    Great stuff Greg
    I’m 5’11 and 150, but I want to be 170 175 I’m 22 and always had trouble putting on muscle, how many calories should I be eating a day to gain mass.

    • admin

      @Ct

      You should be eating a lot more then you are now. I don’t like to count calories when bulking. Its just a pain in the ass. Instead weigh yourself once per week and eat enough that your weight goes up 0.5-1 lbs per week. If you aren’t gaining then you should be eating more.

  • Leo

    Hey would you not recommend taking fat burning pills while trying to add mass?

    • admin

      If your trying to gain mass then don’t take the fat burning pills.

  • http://kinobody.com Justin

    hey with this diet can i have like a cheat day like on friday or would that not be good with this?

    • admin

      Yah! A cheat day would be absolutely fine. Especially since this is a muscle building diet you can definitley get away with a cheat day once per week. I recommend having the cheat day on a workout day and start eating lots after the workout

  • Nick

    hey I just turned 15 im 5′ 11 and around 140 pounds. I’m a competitive tennis player and I am pretty lean, with very little fat. I just want to gain muscle, while losing the little fat I have. What diet plan and workout would you recommend?
    Thanks so much,
    Your the best

  • Jonathan

    Hey,

    Roughly how many carbs are you eating in your meals (1 cup? 2 cups? 100g?)?

    Cheers

  • Jeff

    hey greg. I’m currently 5’10” at 150 lbs right now. i wouldn’t say I’m skinny but I’m definitely not the size that i want to be or should be for my height. i just started phase 2 of visual impact after doing phase 1 for the full 8 weeks. I’ve been trying to bulk up and gain muscle with minimal fat but I’ve been really struggling with the diet. It seems like if i eat slightly less than usual for one day, i come back 3 pounds lighter the next day and I’ve been stuck at 150 for about a month now. i don’t want to push my calories to the extreme cuz I’ve already developed a bit of a belly but I’m just lost as to what i should be eating and when in order to be packing on the muscle and weight i need without getting fat. whenever i cut down on calories i lose a few pounds immediately and whenever i increase calories the weight never seems to go to the right place. my chest and arms could definitely use it but it always seems to land in my stomach/abdomen area. any suggestions or recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated. thanks!

    • Greg

      I think you need to focus on getting ripped first. When you’re really lean your bodies insulin sensitivity becomes very good and excess calories are more likely to be stored in the muscles. Also I wouldn’t worry about scale fluctuations. Those don’t mean anything. Thats just changes in water weight and glycogen. Track the overall change in weight over a period of several weeks. You should be gaining 2 lbs per month for muscle gaining.

  • Chris

    Hey greg. I feel like I made same comment before somewhere put idk if they are coming through or not but if not just wanted to ask you that if it is ok to drink 2 protien shakes on off days because I am not really sure if this diet will give me the protein I need and im currently 150lbs. Also, I use whey protein so how many scoops should be in 1 shake for me?

    • Greg

      I am not your daddy. You don’t need to ask permission. If you’re eating protein at every meal you probably don’t even need additional protein shakes.

  • Umberto

    aren t eggs bad for your health????

  • Chris Z

    If you work your abs on one of your off days should you have a post protein shake?

    • Greg

      No. You don’t even need a post workout shake in general.

  • Anthony D.

    How do you do your protein shake? Only Whey + Water/Milk or is there something else?

    Thank you.

    • Greg

      Water or milk. Either or works

  • Michael elam

    When using Gold Standard All Natural Whey as a protein shake, how many servings would you recommend. It says 130 calories per serving. Would 2-3 servings be enough. That would give me 260-390 calories ( along with my standard 3 meals a day)

    • Greg

      Yes that works.

  • James Laghaney

    Cheers for this mate, was getting annoyed at looking through fitness articles and then seeing so much on the page that there was hardly any point reading on, almost seemed like they were going out of their way to be complicated, this was a perfect description for me and also the only one that really made any sense, so again, cheers for putting this out there man.

  • Santiago Valdez Roy

    So im 15 around 5’7” and im 68.5 kg and around 20% bodyfat, should i cut before doing any of this?

    • Greg

      Yes, get down to 12% bf before thinking about gaining.

  • Billy

    Hey man, love your work!

    Just started using isolyze whey protein.. On my workout days, is it a good idea to have a shake with dinner or after dinner as a snack at about 8pm? I have my first meal at 2pm then 5pm.. Keep in mind I usually workout in the mornings. Just started introducing shakes into my routine so am keen to get your opinion.

    Cheers

    • Greg

      Personally I would have it as a snack later in the evening but it’s up to you. It shouldn’t make much difference as long as you’re getting the same amount at the end of the day.

  • chris

    What workout routine could I use for this diet?

  • Andreas

    How would this diet look like on a rest day? would it be meals with lower carbs or same meals like the plan above.

    • Greg

      You can cut back on the calories by 300-400 or so.

    • Andreas

      Could i use the greek good routine with this diet?

      • Greg

        Yes

  • Andreas

    Hey again

    1. How many pounds of meat and scoop of protein do you recommend each day with this diet?

    2. What kind of sauces would you recommend to make the food taste better?

    • Greg

      1. I’d suggest 1g of protein per pound of goal bodyweight. So if you want to be 180 lbs you’d want 180g of protein per day. You can get this from 600g of meat and 500g of cottage cheese or 2 scoops of protein.

      2. Whatever you like. Barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, mustard, hot sauce…..

      • Andreas

        600 gram of raw or cooked meal?

        • Greg

          raw

  • Ellie

    What kind of vegetables would you recommend with this diet?

    • Greg

      Whatever you like – broccolli, caulfiflower, spinach….

  • Ellie

    I m following this meal plan at the moment. but now i when the weekend come i want to have a free meal with some friends and family.

    what do you thin about this approach

    Lunch¨
    chicken, rice and vegetables? or chicken and only vegetables?

    Dinner (free meal) with some friends and family

    • Greg

      If you’re just doing two meals then you can definitely have rice with lunch. Also include some health fats in that meal.

      • Ellie

        Thanks! yes i having just to meals and 2 protein shakes at the moment. i like more having a free meal once or twice a week then a whole free day.

  • Andreas

    Hey Greg

    How big part of the plate would you recommend protein, carb, vegetable on this meal plan? Right know i cover my plate with 1/3 Protein, 1/3 carbs, 1/3 vegatables.

    • Greg

      Those are very simplistic rules and can work. But it’s better to track macro intake.

  • http://N/A Ryan

    Hi, on top of my three meals a day is it ok to have half servings of protein shakes? I’m thinking breakfast, then half serving, lunch, then half serving, dinner then workout then full serving.

    Thanks,

    Ryan

    • Greg

      Yes, that’s okay if that’s what you would prefer to do.

  • jansson

    how do you make your Sub / Sand-which?

  • Andreas

    Hey Greg.

    In gonna give this routine a try tomorrow. R
    Right know i having 3 meals a day. 2 bigger meals (meat,carbs, veggies/fruit) and 1 smaller meal (cottage cheese and berries)
    I feel like having a meal a 2-3 hours before i train. would you recommend i eat one of the bigger meals before training or the smaller meal?

    • Greg

      You could do the smaller meal. Whatever it more enjoyable for you.

  • Ellie

    This meal plan with just 2 meals. what option would you recommend that i use?

    Option 1

    Meal

    3-4 egg spinach omolette

    piece of fruit

    complex carbs – gluten free cereal

    and some Chicken/Steak/Fish

    Meal 2

    Lunch

    Chicken/Steak/Fish

    Veggies

    Brown Rice or Sweet Potatoes

    or option 2

    Meal 1

    Steak/

    Veggies

    Brown Rice or Sweet Potatoes

    3-4 eggs

    Chicken/

    Yams, Brown Rice Pasta, Wild Rice or Brown Rice

    Salad or Veggies

    • Greg

      All looks pretty good… I recommend combining whole eggs with egg whites or whole eggs with very lean protein (chicken)

      You can have russet potatoes too which are fantastic

  • andreasj07@gmail.com

    Im eating weggies and fruit and berries every day. would i really need a multivitamin?

    • Greg

      probably not

  • http://www.fecvkvf.com john

    i was wondering if you could tell me about how many grams of protein in the protein food sources like meat , fish , eggs , milk , etc… , cause i don’t know how to get 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight from just food , as i don’t want to take supplements and i want only to take my protein requirements from food only but my main problem is the nutrient intake of protein as i don’t how many grams of protein are in the natural food sources.
    if you could help me on that , i would very much appreciate it , thanks.

    • Greg

      This is when google is your friend John….

    • Chris

      go use myfitnesspal app or any other app that will help you see the macro nutrients lol. it’s almost impossible for Greg to list it for you since all proteins have different ounces and grams

  • saed

    Hi , I am alergic to protein shakes, probably cuz of lactose intolerance, I even tried whey isolates, what kind of protein diet would you recommend which can replace protein shakes. Regards

    • Greg

      You actually don’t need to consume protein shakes. Just get your protein from whole food. Meat and eggs and such

  • http://www.liftandbreathe.com Clem

    so why the hell didn’t I gain lifting 4 days a week and eating 500 cals above maintenance?

    • http://kinobody.com/ Greg

      Well because you weren’t eating 500 calories over maintenance. You under predicted your maintenance.