TOP 10 NUTRITION TIPS FOR MUSCLE GAIN
Time to read 9 min
Time to read 9 min
Cancel your plans because this one is important. If you’re trying to build muscle, you must also create a strong nutrition plan. Dumbbells and donuts don’t go together, but weight-lifting alongside a clean and balanced diet can transform you.
If muscle gain is your primary goal, take a look at our top 10 nutrition tips for muscle gain, and see how many you can add to your diet.
As you can probably imagine, not all fats are created equally. Fat is one of three essential macronutrients - do you really think that would be the case if all fats were bad for you? No. When it comes to building muscle, some types of fats will be more helpful than others. There are three types of fats: unsaturated, saturated and trans.
These are the healthiest types of fats, and no, unfortunately, chocolate chip cookies are not made from these. Unsaturated fats are found mostly in plant-based foods and oils, as well as fatty fish. Omega-3 is a specific type of unsaturated fat essential in brain function and cell growth, supporting muscle gains (Kunik, K. 2022).
Examples of unsaturated fats include:
Olive and avocado oils
Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pecans
Seeds like pumpkin & sesame
Fish like salmon, herring and whitefish
Saturated fats are essential in building muscle mass, though it is important not to over-indulge. When taken in excess, saturated fats can cause health problems and even weight gain, particularly if you’re not exercising. If you are training hard, however, and you’re trying to build muscle and strength, you don’t want to cut saturated fats from your diet.
Saturated fats and cholesterol play a direct role in the production of testosterone, which in turn plays a role in muscle strength, size & recovery time (Ricciuto, A. 2019).
Saturated fats are found in animal products like:
Beef, pork & lamb
milk, cheese & eggs
Trans fats are found in some of the sweeter pleasures in life - freshly baked chocolate croissants, for instance, are trans fats. While they are traditionally found in small amounts in meat and dairy products, trans fats can also be man-made and are found in commercially baked goods, a.k.a. bakery goods.
If you were to Google ‘Are trans fats good for muscle growth’, the answer would likely disappoint you. In fact, trans fats are more commonly linked to diabetes, muscle breakdown, limited growth and even increased abdominal fat (Elliott, T. 2020).
As an ASN Copywriter who visits the gym five times a week, I can confidently say that trans fats are entirely at fault for me not yet looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Trans fats, unfortunately, include foods like:
Baked goods like cakes, cookies and pies
Fried foods like french fries and doughnuts
If you’re looking to build muscle, you can’t ignore the importance of hydration. While you probably already know that hydration is vital for your overall health, not everyone realises how essential it is for muscle growth.
When you’re properly hydrated, your muscles are better able to recover after workouts, which can improve your muscle growth and volume after hitting the weights. Staying hydrated ensures that your muscle cells have enough water to perform at their best, improving your strength and endurance during training. Water delivers key nutrients that are needed for producing protein and glycogen structures, which are the building blocks of muscle in the body, and it is also responsible for maintaining your electrolyte balance. Without enough electrolytes during training, your muscle strength and performance may be impaired. (Iron Flask. 2022).
If you want to learn more about how hydration plays a role in muscle growth, check out our blog on The Importance of Hydration for Muscle Growth.
When it comes to building muscle, the post-workout meal is crucial. Eating post-workout can support muscle growth by providing the necessary nutrients to help repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
After a workout, our muscles need a source of protein to stimulate the synthesis of new muscle tissue.
Carbohydrates are also essential as they help to replenish glycogen stores in the muscle, which provides energy during exercise. Consuming a balanced meal after a workout can lead to greater muscle growth and increased strength. So, to maximise the benefits of your training, you should try to eat within 45 minutes of exercise to support muscle growth and recovery (Semeco, R et al. 2023).
Some of the best post-workout meals include:
Grilled chicken, vegetables & rice
Salmon & sweet potato
Egg omelette with avocado on whole-grain toast
Tuna & crackers
Rice crackers & peanut butter
To learn more, check out our blog on Post Workout Nutrition: Best Post-Workout Food.
When it comes to building muscle, eating whole foods is essential for achieving the muscle growth results you are working towards. Whole foods, which encompass fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates, provide the necessary nutrients and vitamins that support muscle growth.
Switching up your diet and consuming whole foods rather than processed or fast food options ensures that your body is fuelled with the proper nutrients it needs for muscle repair, building, and recovery. Not only that, but whole foods also contain valuable micronutrients, such as fibre and antioxidants, that are crucial for maintaining optimal health. By switching to a whole-food diet, you’ll soon see how beneficial it can be for promoting lean muscle mass, increasing strength, and boosting your overall fitness.
Don’t lie - this was the first thing you thought of when you thought of ‘muscle gain’, and it is exactly as important as you think it is.
You’ve probably already heard this, but we’ll say it again: protein is the building block of your muscles. Eating protein for muscle growth not only helps repair and build muscle tissue but also aids in maintaining healthy bones, skin, and blood. When we exercise, we create tiny tears in our muscles, and protein is necessary to repair and build those damaged muscle fibres (Gunnars, K. 2023).
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is important, especially for athletes and those who regularly engage in physical training. Without enough protein, your body may not be able to synthesise new muscle tissue, leading to slow or non-existent muscle growth. Therefore, prioritising protein intake in your diet can increase muscle mass, strength, and overall physical performance.
Among the best protein powders for muscle growth, you will find EHP Labs OxyWhey, which is a lean muscle-building protein powder. This blend is high in protein and contains 100% lean grass-fed whey protein powder. For real gains (that are vegan-friendly), PranaON Natural Mass offers high-quality plant-based protein and is enhanced with creatine monohydrate, coconut MCTs and fermented L-Glutamine.
While that less is more mentality might deliver results when you’re trying to lose weight, it doesn’t work as effectively when you’re trying to put on those gains.
To build muscle gains, you’re going to need to put yourself into a caloric surplus to allow your body to store protein in the form of muscle tissue. These extra calories help to fuel those intense weight-lifting sessions, providing more energy so that you can perform harder (Miller, K. 2017).
Consuming more calories than you burn in a day is crucial for stimulating muscle growth. Eating more for muscle growth doesn’t mean you can just eat anything, though. Choose nutrient-dense foods such as lean meats, fish, nuts, beans, and whole grains. As we’ve said throughout this blog, protein is essential.
This right here! It doesn’t matter if you hit the gym seven days a week or train for three hours every session. If you’re going out after for a beer with the boys or loading up on snacks at the nearest 7/11, you’re wasting all of your hard work.
In order to build and maintain muscle mass, cutting out unhealthy foods from your diet is crucial. Foods that are high in sugars, preservatives, refined carbs, and sodium can not only harm your overall health but also impede muscle growth. Cut back on the alcohol, chill out on the fried foods and focus on eating clean, nutritious foods. Consuming too many processed foods can result in inflammation and an imbalance of nutrients in your body, which can negatively impact muscle recovery and development (Van De Walle, G. 2023).
Forget what you think you know about carbs because that influencer you’re listening to is wrong. Mean Girls is wrong. Carbs are not the enemy. Carbs are right.
While all eyes are on protein when it comes to building muscle, carbs should not be slept on. Carbs are your body’s primary source of fuel during training, and without them, you’re going to struggle to perform those high-intensity sets that you’re performing for muscle growth (Meyer, A. 2023).
More importantly, carbs help to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles after a workout, which aids in recovery and promotes muscle growth. On top of delivering energy to your muscles, carbohydrates help control your blood glucose levels and improve your metabolic function. While supporting your recovery after training, carbs can actually prevent you from losing muscle, in addition to helping you build more. Don’t ignore carbs; just make sure you’re consuming the good ones (Meyer, A. 2023).
If you’re looking for something to help push your muscle gains to the next level, supplements can take your performance to the next level. And, what a coincidence… at ASN, we’re known for selling supps.
Where do we begin? Protein. Our range of protein powders can support those gains, and we have A LOT. From WPI and Mass Gainers to Vegan Protein options, we’ve got you covered. Want our recommendation? You can never go wrong with Rule 1, and their R1 Protein & R1 Whey Blend are perfect if you’re trying to build muscle.
BCAAs and EAAs are essential when it comes to building muscle. Amino Acids, after all, are the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids are used to repair and grow new muscle fibres, which is essential if you’re trying to gain muscle. Looking for the best option? RCN Amino Corps combines BCAAs, EAAs, electrolytes and minerals to support muscle growth, cortisol control, absorption and recovery.
Creatine is like a cheat code. Creatine is best known (and researched) for its muscle-building benefits, supporting growth, volumisation, strength, endurance and power output. It can even promote recovery after training. Evolve Creatine Monohydrate is a 100% pure creatine monohydrate supplement that can support ATP production, muscle growth and performance. For the best results, pair it with Evolve Creatine RX, which has a built-in creatine transport system to support absorption and effectiveness.
You’ve heard this all throughout your life from your Grandmother, your mother and probably even your boss. Well, it’s true. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Or at least too important to skip.
Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast is key to supporting muscle growth. Fueling your body with the right nutrients in the morning can kickstart your muscle-building process and set the tone for the rest of the day, while eating a protein-packed breakfast can promote muscle synthesis and help you reach your muscle growth targets. Your muscles are primed for growth, strength and hypertrophy in the morning, and is the time of day when your muscle may be in their metabolically active or anabolic state (Berman, R. 2021).
We know we’ve left you with a lot of nutritional thoughts to mull over, but you don’t have to drastically unroot your diet at once. Start simple, start small and focus on the tips that are most important for your goals.
It may take a few changes, but what you eat plays a crucial role in how you build muscle. If you need more advice on improving your diet and supplement routine or help finding the best supplements to support muscle growth, we’ve got you covered. Our friendly team at ASN can help you find what you’re looking for, just head in-store or reach out online.
Kunik, K. 2022, ‘How Fat Helps Build Muscle, and the Best and Worst Fats to Eat’, LiveStrong.com, accessed 15 June 2023, https://www.livestrong.com/article/428268-fat-intake-causes-muscle-growth/
Ricciuto, A. 2019, ‘Fatten Up Your Total!’ BodyBuilding, accessed 15 June 2023, https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/anthony5.htm#:~:text=A%20major%20benefit%20of%20saturated,on%20a%20low%20fat%20diet.
Elliott, T. 2020, ‘The Inside Scoop On Trans Fat’, Muscle & Fitness, accessed 15 June 2023, https://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/lose-fat/trans-america-2/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20trans%20fats%20lead,and%20even%20increase%20abdominal%20fat.
Iron Flask. 2022, ‘Hydration & Fitness: How Does Water Promote Muscle Gain’, Iron Flask, accessed 15 June 2023, https://www.ironflask.com/blogs/blog/how-does-water-promote-muscle-gain
Semeco, R et al. 2023, ‘Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout’, Healthline, accessed 16 June 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eat-after-workout
Gunnars, K. 2023, ‘10 Science-Backed Reasons to Eat More Protein’, Healthline, accessed 16 June 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-to-eat-more-protein#:~:text=Protein%20is%20the%20building%20block,strength%20(%208%20%2C%209%20).
Miller, K. 2017, ‘5 Diet Changes You Need to Make to Build Muscle’, Men’s Health, accessed 16 June 2023, https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19540064/how-to-build-muscle-5-diet-changes-you-need-to-make-gains/
Van De Walle, G. 2023, ‘Bodybuilding Meal Plan: What to Eat, What to Avoid’, Healthline, accessed 16 June 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/bodybuilding-meal-plan
Meyer, A. 2023, ‘How Many Carbs You Should Eat to Build Muscle’, Eating Well, accessed 16 June 2023, https://www.eatingwell.com/article/8024634/carbs-to-build-muscle/
Berman, R. 2021, ‘Protein at breakfast builds more muscle than protein at dinner’, Medical News Today, accessed 16 June, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/protein-at-breakfast-builds-muscle-more-than-protein-at-dinner