Muscle Growth Series #2: The Importance of Nutrition

This blog post is going to going to show you how to utilize what you eat to make gains. I will even give a sample macro count for those who are looking to be specific with counting macros. Because at the end of the day nutrition is SUCH a game changer when it comes to growing muscle.

Why?

Because it doesn’t matter what you do in the gym if your nutrition is not on point. Nutrition is easily 80% of the battle when it comes to growing muscle. You have to feed your body potentially MORE when you’re trying to grow so if you’re not paying attention to what, and more importantly HOW you’re eating, you’ll never seen that growth long-term.

When you’re  entering a growth cycle, there needs to be some changes with HOW you eat to see that growth. We may actually eat the EXACT same thing between a maintenance and growth cycle, however, the breakdown per meal, day, or week, may differ. The main difference is that you’ll be in a slight caloric surplus or that you’ll be eating a bit more calories than needed to maintain your current weight.

But before we get to that, we need to make sure that we’re eating the right amount of protein from the get go before we get into a surplus. For most people the best starting point for protein consumption for growth is between .8g/lb of bodyweight and 1g/lb of bodyweight. So for someone that weighs 160lbs they’d need between 128g of protein and 140g of protein daily. But here’s the thing: your starting point depends.

Why?

If that person averages 60g of protein a day (it happens more often than you think) there’s NO WAY they’re going to be able to jump to 128g all of the sudden. That’s more than doubling their intake amount. Instead they’ll need to progress their nutrition just like we would progress training. Depending on the person, maybe we bump them up to 100g per day to begin and see how that goes. If they crush that for 3-4 weeks straight, then we bump it up again to 130g and see how that goes. If they continually crush the amounts given, we can stay there or progress long-term as goals change.

For the other two macros, carbs and fat, we have to consider their total calories consumed. Let’s say this 160lbs person is a male, 25 years old, 5’8”, exercises 3-5 times a week and is eating 1700 calories per day on average. Their RMR (resting metabolic rate) or the amount of calories they need to just function as a human being is 1685 calories so they’re barely above that amount. But if their protein is only at 60g per day that means they were probably eating A LOT of carbs and fat. For this example, let’s say they were eating 225g of carbs a day (again, more common than you think) and 62 grams of fat per day.

In the beginning we don’t want to make that person eat too much MORE if we know we can just optimize their current macros to better fuel their body, workouts and recovery. This means that we just need to switch around their macros a bit to still add up to 1700 but just be different per macronutrient.

For that first cycle I mentioned here’s how I would break down their macros:


Protein

Carbs

Fat

Calories

100g

185g

62g

1700


That way we’re slowing incorporating more protein into their diet while not changing the fat intake AT ALL and only bumping down carbs a little bit. The reason I wouldn’t change fat is because we want fat intake to range from 20 - 35% of the total calories consumed. At 62g or 560kcals, their diet is about 32% fat calorically which is just fine for now. In the beginning we want to introduce as little change as possible for maximal results.

We’re human. We take time to change and you can’t expect someone to COMPLETELY flip their lifestyle on its head and change how they eat in a snap. As we get them eating a bit differently per cycle, progress in training and other movement modalities, they’ll be able to eat a bit more of HOW we want them to. That being said here’s how I would breakdown each cycle for the next couple of rounds starting from their initial intake daily average:


Protein

Carbs

Fat

Calories

60g

225g

62g

1700

Optimization Phase

100g

185g

62g

1700

130g

155g

62g

1700


Keep in mind that 1700 is only BARELY above their resting metabolic rate, but we needed some time to optimize their current macros before we got them up to their maintenance calories of about 2600 calories.

Yea.

There’s a big gap.

However following the same strategy that I laid out before, you can achieve the desired caloric intake. It takes patience, hard workk and consistency above all. If you trust the process and continue to increase your caloric intake, you’ll do just fine and see that muscle growth!

Once you get to that maintenance caloric intake and can sustain it, you’ll want to go into a slight caloric surplus of between 200 and 400 calories depending upon on the person. You don’t need to go into a huge surplus. A slight surplus overtime will show the slow and sustainable growth we want. It will allow you stick to the new caloric level more likely than not because you’re not DRASTICALLY changing your intake like before when we were optimizing the macros.

Now let’s talk about what we should be putting in our body. Of course from a mathematical standpoint, a calorie is just a calorie. However, in terms of how that calorie impacts the body, there’s a whole different level of understanding that’s worth exploring. Food quality is important for gut health which impacts performance, recovery, mental clarity and even mood and mindset. If your performance isn’t up to par as you try to push yourself to grow while your recovery is garbage and you’re lead by a distracted, cloudy mind and shitty mood you better believe your muscle growth will be impacted.

There’s no comparison between a diet comprised of low nutrient, high calorie foods and one of the opposite. You’ll fill your body with the garbage instead of performance and recovery enhancing foods.

Let me explain.

Because something like McDonald’s is full of a ton of calories and a small nutrient density, you’ll be able to shovel it. You’ll consume 1500 calories and feel like you ate 600 without much of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients that comes from a wholesome, low-processed meal.

But something like 2 Sweet Potatoes, a quarter of a plate of broccoli and some chicken breast will probably be somewhere around 600 calories and you’ll FEEL full. All the fiber and nutrients packed into this meal will leave you stuffed for less than half the calories.

The gut WANTS food like in the second example and will probably let you know. Consistent eating like the first example leaves your gut PISSED OFF. You’ll see all those variables I talked about impacted. Your body needs fiber, micronutrients and good quality macronutrient sources. It wants to be fueled properly. It wants the good stuff. It ain’t all about calories long-term. Sure, you’ll see some gains for a bit, but long-term, your body can’t maintain that lifestyle and WILL eventually quit on you.

While I am emphasizing food quality, I’m NOT saying cut out the stuff you like COMPLETELY.

That’s madness.

We’re human and like what we like so we can fit it in there while staying on track with our goals.

Aim for the 80/20 lifestyle where 80% of what you put in your body is wholesome and nutritious and 20% is for fun. This will allow you to still enjoy what you like while adhering to your program long-term. How you choose to apply this lifestyle is really up to you.

You can split your individual meals into this 80/20, your day of meals into 80/20 or your week into 80/20. Play around with it and see what works best for you and your lifestyle. You know yourself better that anyone. Be honest with yourself and apply that honesty into your life for the best results.

I hope this article gave you some insight into how to prioritize your nutrition to make more gains! It’s not just about calories, food quality matters so much. The effects of what we eat are not always immediately seen and that allows people to BELIEVE they can eat whatever and see gains, but that is not the case long-term.

If you need more personalized nutrition coaching apply for coaching with me HERE and we can talk through what’s hold you back and make a plan of action steps to get you to where you want to be!


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