Most muscle-building plans and articles are long on mythology and short on tangible examples. I’m here to flip the script and show you what exactly I do when building lean muscle.
But first, a caveat: there is no perfect diet. I’ve been consistent with training and nutrition for the better part of 16 years at this point, so what works for me may not be best for you.
There are a few keys you should focus on, regardless of your goal.
Focus on eating whole foods that came from the ground or had a face.
Drink plenty of water. If you so choose, Use a few time-tested supplements to fill in the gaps.
Now, the details. I’m entirely focused on building muscle right now. It takes months of focused work (without dieting down) to build any noticeable muscle. Some fat gain is par for the course. Sacrifices must be made if you want to achieve significant progress. Here’s my current plan of action.
Goal: Build Muscle
Timeframe: Three months, minimum focused purely on building muscle. This could extend to six months depending on my progress and schedule.
15-20% caloric surplus to gain muscle. (Most times I advise 10-15% is sufficient to gain muscle. But, I run hot metabolically so I need to consume more calories.
To find caloric intake for each I use a simple equation: Bodyweight in pounds (lbs) x 16.
This is maintenance.
To find what you’ll need to build muscle, add between 10-20% to this number. It’s crucial to remember that all equations, no matter how advanced, are imperfect. So pick one, test your macros for a few weeks and adjust from there.
Carbs: 40%, 324g/day
Protein: 30%, 243g/day
Fat: 30%, 108g/day
I do not cycle calories.
I do not cycle carbs.
These methods can work, but I get tempted to go into “cut mode” if I vary the plan too much. If you have a tendency give up on muscle-building goals too quickly, your best bet is to reduce complexity.
Sample Day of Eating
Breakfast (before gym):
Overnight Oats, 595 calories, 60g protein, 79g carbs, 6g fat
1 cup Oats, 2 scoops whey protein, 1 apple.
Greens drink w/creatine.
Training/Post Training: 300cals
Protein bar or shake (25g protein), 1-2 pieces of fruit (50g carbs) OR PW workout drink, which is generally cyclic dextrin from Trunutrition.
Lunch 550: calories.
Some form of chicken or beef (8oz), 50g protein, 10g fat
Bag of frozen veggies or a big salad with 1tbs balsamic vinegarette dressing (100 calories)
Sweet potato, red potato, or rice 40-50g carbs
Snack: 300-500 calories.
Epic bar/Quest Bar, nuts, beef jerky and either carrot or another raw veggie.
8-12 oz of fish or another type of meat. Generally, another 50-75g protein depending on the cut.
Two cups of white rice or two sweet potatoes.
Big ass salad or sauteed veggies. Usually, cooked or with 1tbps of butter or salad dressing added (100 cals, 9g fat)
Evening Snack: 400 cals
1 cup greek yogurt
2 squares dark chocolate
¼ cup walnuts
This gets me to 3000-3200 calories. Once I factor in additional condiments or “nibbles,” I’m generally around 3200-3300. Again, don’t follow my diet as gospel; it’s all about hitting your numbers with quality food that your body agrees with.
-Vitamin D3: Health and testosterone support
-Omega 3 Fish Oil: Cardiovascular and neurological health
-Protein Powder: Easier to hit protein goals.
-Creatine Monohydrate: #Gains
-Greens Powder: Overall health and digestion
-Magnesium: Improves nearly every physiological function
If you want a fully-fleshed out explanation of the supplements and brands I use, grab a copy of my high-performance supplement guide here: High Performance Supplement Guide
Weekends and debauchery:
I like pizza. I like burgers. I love tacos. I like to drink and have a good time.
I fit all of these into my diet every single week (tacos 2-3x). You can make variations of all these much healthier with a little planning and foresight. It’s obvious, but it bears repeating: alcohol is not healthy and will negatively impact your health and body composition. That said, I still imbibe within reason and you probably can too.
Calories are king for body composition.
If you’re trying to build muscle, you must be in a surplus consistently, or you won’t gain size.
If you’re trying to lose fat, you must be in a deficit consistently, or you won’t lose fat.
Don’t straddle the line and try to build muscle on training days and cut fat on off days. You’ll fail at both.
Food Quality Matters Greatly:
The better quality (generally, fewer ingredients) in your food, the better your body composition will be as long as your calories are in check.
Focus less on supplements and more on getting the best quality food you can afford.
You can eat twice per day or 6x. Whatever you can stick to consistently for your goals makes a difference. Personally, when I’m not trying to build, I’m eating 3-4x/day. When I’m cutting, I generally use intermittent fasting and eat 2-3x.
Don’t eat fewer than three meals and or use intermittent fasting when trying to bulk up. They simply don’t work as well as eating more often.
Building your best body is within reach. But it takes a well-thought-out plan, accountability, and sacrifice.
But it doesn’t just magically happen; you have to put in the work. I’ve had plenty of folks who’ve helped me along the way, and that’s why we help others do the same today.
By figuring out the “details” of your training and nutrition program, we simplify the process so you can execute.
We figured out how to do it, so you don’t need to stress.
If you’re interested in building your best body without living in the gym, the next step is simple: Apply below.