Today, I will share with basic concept on Nutrition for muscle building (Bulking). Something you must learn: Building muscle is a anabolic process. There are some conditions to be met:
- Sufficient Energy/Calorie
- Sufficient Raw Material
Sufficient Energy means the energy intake from your diet or energy stored in your body. Raw Material means Protein which is the main component of muscle. To sum up, you need to have enough energy intake and protein intake because these two conditions are favourable to the muscle growth.
So, how do we define “Enough”?
Let’s talk about Protein first. There are many sayings about protein requirement for muscle building. Generally, you need around ~1.5-2.2g/bodyweight (kg). Different people would tell you different values, but more like around this range. For general gym goers, Lower quartile of the range should be considered first.
For example, a 60 kg man want to build muscle. He may start with 90g protein/day first. Note that this “magic number” is not fixed. You can adjust it according to your needs.
There are some basic requirements for Energy/Calorie. The most fundamental ones are:
- Maintenance Calorie or
- Calorie Surplus
About the Macros ratio, it just depends on what kind of diet. No particular ratio is best for everyone. The best way, in my opinion, is to learn about your body and test it.
For example, when you are having Calorie Surplus, How much extra (surplus) is good for you, 15/10/20%, And to make a muscle/weight gains?
In general, the combination of your nutrition and training will be tested under a period of time to see whether it works or not. For example, expected some weight gains in 2-3 months for most cases.
- If your weight are following this direction, then your combination is good to go.
- If your weight are dropping and of no change at all, then adjustment on your nutrition or training should be made. It may be more calorie surplus, It may be different types of food.
As long as it helps you move towards the goal.
Muscle Growth Rate
Then, we should learn the rate of Muscle Growth. We should first understand a few points:
- Muscle Growth is a slow process.
- Less Training Experience: Faster Muscle Growth Rate. More Training Experience: Slower Muscle Growth Rate.
There are two models for your reference:
#1 The McDonald Model
It states that we can gain at maximum 20-25lbs of lean mass (muscle). Then the rate drop half every year.
#2 The Alan Aragon Model
It states that:
- Beginner: Max Gain 1-1.5% lean mass of bodyweight.
- Intermediate: Max Gain 0.5-1% lean mass.
- Advanced: Max Gain 0.25-0.5% lean mass.
For example, a 130 lbs teenage try to build muscle. He can grow around 1.3-1.95 lbs lean mass /month in the first year.
The above two models are just reference. To be honest, I don’t think most guys can achieve the above rates. But just something to learn that:
- Less Training Experience: Faster Muscle Growth Rate.
- Muscle Growth is a slow process.
Besides, you may have heard Dirty Bulking, Bulking, Lean/Slow Bulking. It actually means the volume of different calorie intake.
- Dirty Bulking: Excessive Calorie Surplus.
- Bulking: Calorie Surplus (with control)
- Lean Bulking: Maintenance Calorie/ Calorie Surplus.
When you know that different calorie & the rate of muscle growth. You can see the relationships between both of them. It means the training experience and how much you eat is relevant and they will affect your result. For example:
- A newbie try to build muscle with a fast rate, so he eat a lot. In the first year, his muscle gains is fast and significant. The physique can tell the result: A decent amount of muscle gains with little fat gains. However, if he trains for the next few years, the muscle growth rate is much slower. And yet he still eat with such high calorie diet for long time. Then he may get gain a lot of fat instead, and become bulky as a result of Dirty Bulking.
- On the other hand, when he just starting out and just have a maintenance calorie or slight surplus diet instead. The chances are he still probably get some muscle size in the first year because of the newbie gains. But for the couple years later, if he still have this “low” calorie intake, he may just barely maintain his weight. It may actually be a slight deficit. Under this unfavourable condition for muscle growth, He can hit a muscle growth plateau and no more muscle growth since then.
Front he above examples, you can see that the most important way is that we should adjust our nutrition/diet according to different stages/needs. You need to clarify a clear goal on muscle building, and negative impacts you can bear. Faster, Higher Quality, First Bulk Then Cut, which diet you can persist on? All these are the factors you need to consider.
At last, don’t forget: Whatever your diet & nutrition, training is necessary. If you don’t train, muscle won’t grow. So, Nutrition & Training are equally important.
About some common questions like the difference between different people/genetics. Like how to build muscle for hardgainer. How to building muscle for easy-fat-guys. All these will be discussed in future videos.