Eating For Muscle Growth And Performance

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called “Fat Loss Made Easy.”

While the majority of people need to reduce their body fat levels, there are a select few that are looking to gain weight, build muscle, and maximize performance.

Let me be clear.

If you are overweight, don’t even think about going on a mass gaining diet until your body fat levels are in check.

For men, this will be sub 12%

For women, sub 20%.


If you are over these body fat levels, refer to the link above and follow an eating plan similar to that until you are ready to transition.

When dieting for fat loss, a lower carb, higher fat diet is the best option.

When eating to build muscle and maximize performance, a lower fat, higher carb diet is the way to go. 

Remember that weight loss/gain has a great deal to do with insulin production in the body.

Insulin is your “storage” hormone.

The lower  your insulin levels throughout the day, the more fat you will burn.

The higher your insulin levels, the more potential to shuttle nutrients into your muscle (and fat) cells and gain weight.

Carbohydrate’s are the main macro nutrient that signal  insulin to go up or down, they also provide much needed energy when performing intense exercise, hence the different approaches to losing fat and gaining weight.

That said, the #1 mistake most  dudes make on a mass building diet is eating anything and everything in sight.

This is dumb.

As with everything else you do in life, your main priority first and foremost should be to stay healthy.

Taking weight gain shakes loaded with sugar, eating whole pizzas, and taking 30 pills with every meal will not only make you fat, but it will wreak havoc on your immune system, hinder  your performance, and take away from your recovery between workouts.

Your goal should be to put on weight with the absolute least amount of fat accumulation, all while keeping your athleticism and mobility. 

After all, what good is it to bench 315 if you have a gut and can’t play a game of pickup basketball without hacking up a lung like Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Along Came Polly.” (Let it rain!!!!!!!!!!)

In the past 5 years I have gained 15+ lbs., and managed to stay under 12% body fat the entire time! (See photo, below, for evidence.)


Here is how I did it:


Your food choices while trying to build muscle will be EXACTLY the same as when dieting for fat loss.

The only difference is that you will be eating more of them.

The majority of your calories should be coming from lean, organic animal protein, eggs, vegetables, fruits, a small amount of nuts and seeds, and A LOT of organic gluten free oats, potatoes, and rice.

Try to eat the majority of your carbohydrate’s around training and at night. 

This will ensure that they go to muscle repair and recovery and not get stored as fat.


Train 3-4 days per week,  and make sure you get in at least 1-2 sessions of conditioning.

Like I said earlier, get strong, but don’t sacrifice your athleticism.

You’re not trying to be a body builder.

Your goal should be to be a super human freak of nature.

That means you run fast, jump high, lift heavy, and you look good with your shirt off all year long.

Oh, and the ladies love you.

Can’t forget about that.

The Formula-

Here’s simple formula to help track your calories and get you started:

Calories: Multiply current body weight x 15.

Protein (4 calories per gram): Multiply your body-weight by between .8 and 1

Fat (9 calories per gram): 30% of your calories should come from fat

Carbs (4 calories per gram): Fill the rest in with carbs

So, using this formula, a 180 lb. man at 10% body fat would start with 2,700 calories:

144 grams coming from protein, 328 grams from carbohydrate, and 90 grams from fat.

Start there and monitor your progress.

Remember, the goal is to build muscle with as little fat gain as possible.

Therefore, the weight gain should be incremental, unless you are in your first year of training.

If you are training and eating accordingly, the scale should start moving upwards.

If you are not gaining weight after the first month, re-do the formula, but this time multiply your body weight x 16 for calories.

Remember to be realistic with your goals.

If you are starting out at 165 lbs, don’t expect to get to 200 any time soon.

Don’t compare yourself to any one else, and remember that slow, steady progress beats a fast and unsustainable approach every time, especially if it makes you fat and unhealthy.

Author: J.J.Valdivia

I have worked in the health and fitness industry for a decade. Through my personal work with clients, and my writing, I strive to help others become more well-rounded human beings, so that they may thrive in all areas of their lives.

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