4 steps to proper nutrition for muscle building
Next to the workout plan, the appropriate diet is one of the most important factors in building muscle and is key to achieving your personal training objectives.
In order for your diet to complement and support your muscle building efforts, there are a few things you need to check and determine in advance.
1st Step: Determine your body type
The diet that is going to help you achieve the best results in terms of muscle building greatly depends on your body type. In weight training, we generally distinguish between three body types:
The ectomorph body type
(Hard gainer): The body is usually petite with long limbs, a low percentage of body fat and slow weight gain.
The endomorph body type
(Soft gainer): A round physique, fat deposits are quickly gained around the waist, hips and thighs. Wide hips, particularly in women. Slow metabolism, but fast development of muscle mass and fat deposits.
The mesomorph body type:
Athletic body with broad shoulders, powerful arms and legs and a slender waist. High muscle mass, usually very athletic. Rapid success when building muscle.
The body types differ in terms of muscle mass, tendency to put on weight and general structure. However, not all people can be specifically typified – these are mixed types.
2nd Step: Proper nutrition & training for your body type
The ectomorph body type/hard gainer
Training: The focus should be on weight training, because calorie consumption is very high during endurance training.
Ideally, this body type should concentrate on increasing muscle mass and flexibility. However, caution is advised. Ectomorphs become over exercised very quickly.
Nutrition: Carbohydrate-heavy nutrition. A calorie surplus is needed to build mass.
The diet should consist of plenty of protein and good fats, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, too.
The mesomorph body type
Training: Emphasis should be placed on flexibility training for the muscles. This body type is quick to see good results in terms of building strength, but tends to have shorter muscles and tendons.
Nutrition: Carbohydrate-heavy diet during the day, reduced carbohydrate consumption in the evening. The diet should consist of plenty of protein and good fats, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, too.
The endomorph body type/soft gainer
Training: A combination of weight training for muscle building and endurance training to combat excess weight and fat deposits. The endomorph body type regenerates quickly from exertion.
Nutrition: Disciplined nutrition is particularly important, a diet low in carbohydrates and fat. However, this body type needs a lot of protein for muscle building, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, too.
3rd Step: The correct macro nutrient ratio
When trying to build muscle, it is particularly important to regularly consume much needed macro nutrients like high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Only a regular supply of protein can permanently boost protein synthesis for muscle building and keep the amino acid concentration in the blood consistently high.
In addition to macro nutrients, you also need to regularly consume vitamins and minerals.
Protein: Essential muscle building component
When building muscle mass, a high-protein diet is needed to support the body after exercise and during regeneration.
Proteins basically consist of various essential and semi-essential amino acids like leucine, valine and isoleucine.
We recommend a combination of animal and plant sources. Suitable natural foods include lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, legumes and soya.
Red meat, which contains a lot of creatine, is especially popular in muscle building diets. Protein products like protein shakes can be used as diet supplements.
Characteristic: Quick metabolic availability
When: Ideally right after your workout
Characteristic: Optimised protein combination
When: Perfect after an evening workout
Carbohydrates: Fuel for your muscles
Complex carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your muscles. Only with a sufficient carbohydrate intake can you maintain permanent progression (consistent weight increase).
If you consume more carbohydrates than you need, your muscles store the remaining sugar in the form of glycogen. During intense workouts in particular, your body can tap into these energy reserves.
Primarily whole grain products, potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal should be included in your nutrition plan for muscle building.
Short-chain carbohydrate compounds such as glucose should be avoided, as these raise blood sugar levels very quickly.
Fats: quality not quantity
In addition to carbohydrates and proteins, a good supply of healthy fats plays an important role in a muscle building diet.
Certain body functions like the release of testosterone and hormone production require valuable fatty acids.
Unsaturated fatty acids from plant oils (flax oil, organic coconut oil), fish (cod, salmon), avocado and walnuts are ideal.
4. Calculate your personal macro nutrient ratio
Don't know your daily calorie requirements? Click here for the Calorie Calculator.
5th Step: 8 rules for proper muscle building nutrition
Rule number 1: You need to eat at least 6 meals a day!
Muscle building means a calorie surplus. Eat at least 6 small meals a day.
Try and eat something small every 2 to 3 hours. A regular intake of calories prevents the body from going into catabolic (breakdown) mode.
Your blood sugar levels and metabolism remain at a constant high to ensure that your mental and physical performance does not drop.
Rule number 2: Avoid simple carbohydrates
Avoid simple carbohydrates: Often known as bad carbohydrates, e.g. the sugar in fruit juice and honey.
A nutrition plan for muscle building should always focus on the supply of complex carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates are processed slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable and supplying the body with energy long-term.
Rule number 3: Balanced meals with proteins and carbohydrates
It is important to get the right balance of nutrients in your meals. Make sure that each meal consists of high-quality carbohydrates and around 30g of protein.
Whole grain products, oatmeal and rice are ideal. Get your protein from chicken, beef, fish and eggs.
Rule number 4: Essential fatty acids are your secret weapon
A healthy diet for muscle building should be supported with essential fatty acids.
Too many of the bad fats will lead to a decline in physical and mental performance potential long-term.
Valuable fatty acids can be found in olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and low-fat fish.
Rule number 5: Nutritional supplements for muscle building
As part of your recommended diet for muscle building, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as dietary supplements play an important role.
An additional intake of dietary supplements can optimise muscle building processes. We recommend the following products:
- Whey Protein: Protein for energy in the muscles
- Creatine Powder: For even better athletic performance and effective workout
- L-glutamine: For effective regeneration and recovery processes
Rule number 6: Pre & post-workout meal
Your energy reserves need constant replenishment before and after exercise to give you enough energy during your workout and after.
Pre-workout meal: A pre-workout meal should consist of complex carbohydrates and protein.
A combination of 300g of quark with 100g of berries about 1 hour before your workout is ideal.
This equates to about 250 kcal, 2g fat, 21g carbohydrates and 37g protein. A quick alternative is a protein shake with whey protein and a banana.
Post-workout meal: After your workout, your energy stores need quick and effective replenishment to prevent nutrient deficiencies and loss of muscle mass.
Your body needs a sufficient supply of protein and fast carbohydrates within 30 minutes of completing a workout.
Post-workout meals like a homemade shake made of quark, bananas and milk, offer a quick supply of energy.
A protein shake with fruit juice and a banana is a suitable alternative.
Another meal 60-90 minutes after exercising is a good idea if you are on a protein-rich muscle building diet.
This meal should consist of high-quality protein sources like low-fat fish, meat or egg whites, as well as complex carbohydrates from whole wheat pasta, potatoes or oatmeal, etc.
Rule number 7: Don't forget to stay hydrated
The ability for your muscles to regenerate effectively is promoted by a sufficient intake of fluids.
Regardless of your goals – whether you're trying to build muscles or define them – water is THE nutrient for your body. Drink 2 to 3 litres a day.
We recommend 1 litre more on workout days to compensate for the fluid lost during exercise.
Rule number 8: Say goodbye to hunger pangs
A well-planned muscle building diet usually includes the required amount of daily calories. Without a calorie surplus, your muscles cannot grow consistently.
Avoid hunger pangs: Eat a meal as soon as you get hungry.
Tip: A protein shake before bed promotes the regeneration and growth of your muscles.
6. Muscle building nutrition: helpful PDF templates
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