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Diet for Building Muscle and Staying Lean

Hello,

I have been following the Stronglifts 5x5 program for almost 4 months now. And the weights are starting to get heavy thus making me stall more often. I have just been eating normally with some extra protein during this 4 months but I feel that I need to start eating better in order to increase my lifts further. I’m not so experienced in the area of nutrition etc so I thought I’d make a thread so that you could help me out.

The reason I create this thread is to get some help creating a diet for me to follow. I’ve read some articles on the Internet and almost all of them say something different. So I thought I should make a thread and get some help based on my stats and situation.

My goals are to build muscle without getting fat. From what I’ve read it’s hard to build muscle while burning fat so I would just like to focus on building as much muscle as possible without getting fat, a rough estimate on my body fat % is about 17-20%. I’m about 184 CM tall and weigh 85 KG. I realize that I’m not going to “get ripped in 6 weeks” or something like that but over time I would like to see some noticable results.

I’ve read some articles

The first article suggest I eat the following (min-max)

Cals: 2635 - 3145
Protein: 119 - 170
Carbs: 382,5 - 552,5
Fat: 85 - 170

and the calculator suggest (min-max)

Cals: 2244-2618
Protein: 196-299
Carbs: 252-294
Fat: 50-58

In my own opinion the results from the calculator sounds about right, but hey I could be wrong.

I also read something about timing carbs so that I only eat them in the morning and before workout, is that really important?
I want my diet to be as simple as possible.

At the moment I think I should aim to eat what the calculator says without timing any carbs and taking 5 different supplements etc. Just keeping it as simple as possible. I got a jar of protein powder just in case I haven’t gotten enough protein from the food I eat.

For those of you that don’t know what the Stronglifts 5x5 is it’s a begginners program where you work out 3 times a week doing Workout A which consists of Squats, Bench, and barbell row. And workout B doing squats, overhead press and deadlift.

If it matters my lifts are the following:

Squats: 102,5 KG
Deadlifts: 115 KG
Bench: 65 kg
Overhead press: 45 kg
Barbell row: 70 kg

+Bonus question: How do my lifts compare to eachother?

Try this…

Hey sorry for late response I forgot about the thread :slight_smile:

I’m doing SL5x5, so if I am to follow the Carb cycling thing I’m just going to eat “High-day” when I’m working out and “Low day” between workout days?

I’m guessing it’s hard to keep carbs at zero so should I just not eat carb-rich foods on my resting days? Like skipping out on nuts, potatoes and rice?

I’m at a loss here, I’m not sure about how many carbs and calories I should eat. Could someone kind maybe make some examples of daily intakes for me based on my stats?

Without knowing everything about you (age, sex (assuming you are male?), activity level (desk job? other active sports?), etc.), it is a little difficult to define a precise starting point. But in any event, choosing the right diet for your goals is an exercise that requires some trial and error anyway to determine what works best for you.

You mentioned that you want to keep this as simple as possible, and if you aren’t going to prescibe to one of the many dietary programs offered on this site and others that are proven effective, I’ll give you my humble opinion on where to start…

Based on your size (again, I don’t know everything about you so this is a guess), start with a maintenance caloric level of 3,000. To begin with, eat the same every day (you said you wanted easy), making sure to include proper peri-workout nutrition on lifting days. You want (pardon my American measurements) 1.5g protein per pound of LBM (lean body mass), which in your case is ~225g per day (900 calories). I’d start with 30% of your total calories from fats, so 900 calories = 100g per day. The remaining calories come from carbs (3,000 - 900 - 900 = 1,200 calories or 300g per day). You can divide these into as many meals per day as you want (3-6 plus peri-workout nutrition).

Track your food intake for awhile using a calculator available on the net or smartphone apps. This is a very imprortant step, and you won’t have to do this forever if you don’t want to, but it is important initially to train yourself on how the foods you eat add up at the end of each day.

Do this for 3-4 weeks, weighing in without clothes first thing in the morning on the same scale on the same day each week. If the scale remains constant or moves up slowly (no more than 1-2 pounds per week) and your progression in the gym is acceptable, then I’d say you are achieving what you set out to do. If not, slowly add or remove calories as needed.

Things like calorie/carb cycling and/or nutrient timing are tools in the shed to pull out once the basics stop producing the realistic results you are looking for.

Hello, sorry again for the late response. I should be getting email notifications when there is any activity here, but I’m not.

I’ve looked into the article RampantBadger posted and it doesn’t look that hard to follow. Thank you for the example of how many proteins, carbs and fats I should eat!

The rest of my stats are: 22 years old, male, deskjob with some light activity, no other sports but strenght training (Stronglifts 5x5), 183-185 CM tall, 85kg.

I guess I have to invest in a scale so I can keep track of my weight.

My recommendation is pretty different from the rest.

First off, a typical non-training day. I estimate your baseline needs to be about 2300 cals.

140 grams carbs average (about 25% of cals; you may vary but average this over the week)
140 grams protein (about 25% of cals)
130 grams fat (about 50% of cals)

Next, on training days, for each hour of training add 30 grams of protein before training, and 50 grams of carbs after training. This is for a 5 x 5 program that does not deplete muscle glycogen very much. If you train more than an hour, start the carbs by the 1 hour mark.

So if you train an hour you are getting for the day: 170 g protein, 190 g carbs, 130 g fat, 2620 cals.

THAT formula should actually let you gain strength and muscle while gradually sliding down to 12-14% bodyfat.

If your goal is to just maintain your current BF% and gain as much muscle as possible, add another 30 grams of protein and 50 grams of carbs to the base numbers each day.

Thanks for your input Mertdawg!

Your suggestion seems doable, I started to count calories today and it is hard to eat ~3000 cals a day like Souldozer suggests.

From what I’ve read on the Internet most people seem to agree that you should get 1-1,5 grams of protein per lbs bodyweight. But you suggest only 170g on training days and 140 on non-training days, any reason for this?

I’ve had some trouble progessing in the gym lately, I feel so worn out after I’m done with my squats (currently at 110kg). This is probably because I’m not eating enough.

It seems like a good idea for me to invest in some whey-100 protein powder and mix with milk and drink with my meals in order to reach my maintenance. Aswell as finding some good foods to cook. I usually cook once or twice a week and make food for a couple of days. I’m not sure about how to calculate how many cals, carbs, proteins and fat the food I cook contains. Now I just count together all the nutritional values for the ingridients used in my meal. Is that the right way to do it?

My gym has one of those fancy machines where you can measure your bodyfat % and muscle % for a small fee. I’m going to do that, then I’m going to buy a scale to keep track on my weight. If I don’t gain 1-2 lbs per week I’ll up my caloric intake with 300 cals until I start doing so. I’m guessing I’m somewhere between 17-22% BF, my goal is to maybe get down to around 15% and then just maintain.

(EDIT: actually I said 140 on non-training, and 170 on training days to bring your bodyfat down into the 12-14 range while possibly building muscle, and another 30 grams per day to meet your stated goal of gaining the most muscle while maintaining your bodyfat. So that would be 170 on non-training, and an extra 30 per hour of training. And again that is for basically 5 x 5 type training.)

As for protein grams, 1) I’ve tried 140-170, 200+, 250-300 and I did not experience a difference, but I trained for lower reps (5 or less) so I was breaking down less muscle in training. If you are going to do glycogen depleting workouts with mutliple sets of 6-15 reps then you may need more protein to prevent breakdown of muscle.

However I believe that that extra protein is getting burned to preserve muscle, not being used to build muscle. At 1 gram per pound of bodyweight we see an increase in levels of enzymes to breakdown protein for energy. In fact if you eat 300 grams a day and cut to 200 your body is going to keep burning at the 300 gram per day level, and burning those extra 100 grams. From what I’ve seen in studies and experiences, basically all of the protein you get above 1 gram/pound is burned, and it just makes you real good at burning protein for fuel. A bodybuilding high rep workout may burn 5 times as many calories per hour as a strength type workout.

Also blood levels of ammonia do START to rise at about 1 gram per pound,maybe 1.25 per pound for very lean individials, and ammonia is not good.

I’m going to try and aim for ~2600 cals on training days and 2300 on rest days. Today I have eaten a little more than usual and if my calculations are correct I’ve eaten about 2200 calories, 184,6g protein, 211g carbs and 60 grams of fat. I’ve also had some cashew nuts. Not sure on how much but maybe 30-40 grams. Today was a workout day and I spent about 1 hour and 20 minutes at the gym.

I’ve been eating pretty clean today so todays reading should be pretty accurate except for the nuts that are unaccounted for. But it seems my fat intake is a little to low.

Do you think switching from low fat milk and low fat cottage cheese to the regular fat version would be a good idea? Today I get most of my fats from fish.

[quote]Jointe1992 wrote:
I’m going to try and aim for ~2600 cals on training days and 2300 on rest days. Today I have eaten a little more than usual and if my calculations are correct I’ve eaten about 2200 calories, 184,6g protein, 211g carbs and 60 grams of fat. I’ve also had some cashew nuts. Not sure on how much but maybe 30-40 grams. Today was a workout day and I spent about 1 hour and 20 minutes at the gym.

I’ve been eating pretty clean today so todays reading should be pretty accurate except for the nuts that are unaccounted for. But it seems my fat intake is a little to low.

Do you think switching from low fat milk and low fat cottage cheese to the regular fat version would be a good idea? Today I get most of my fats from fish.[/quote]

First, an ounce of cashews is about 180 cals, and about 17 grams of fat. And that’s like 11 nuts.

I would try to finish out your cals with fat for the day. I see nothing wrong with going to full fat dairy to get to about 130 grams of fat per day, but it is fairly empty fat cals-not negative, just neutral.

Personally I try to get the fat up by alternating one of the following as they contain fat soluble nutrients, or have specific fatty acids that are helpful:

  1. 1 TBS red palm oil (130 cals): Vitamin A precursors, low Omega 6,
  2. 1 TBS Olive oil (120 cals): oliec acid, and primarily monounsaturated
  3. 2 TBS coconut butter (220 cals) medium chain triglycerides and lauric acid, also coconut milk or oil. Good for workout energy.
  4. Avocado, or macadamia nuts. Macadamia is a good source of copper which sometimes is lacking.
  5. 2-3 egg yolks (55 cal each) boosts testosterone, D, A, Omega-3
  6. Organic butter
  7. Choose higher fat grass fed beef cut. 1/4 lb ground 240 cals. Also boosts testosterone
  8. Aged cheese (occasionally): vitamin K
  9. Extra milk fat, or higher omega-6 nuts like Almonds and Walnuts in moderation.

Also get at least 2000 IU of vitamin D per day.

I am curious to know where your 180 some grams of protein is from. Can you break it down?

Yeah sure! here goes:
meal 1
milk 7g, porridge (whole) 12g.

meal 2
Bread, whole
7,5g

Tuna, 125g
32,4g

Mackerel (in tomato sauce, mixed with tuna)
17,5g

Meal 3, pre workout
Proteinshake, mixed with milk
41,5g

Meal 4
Rice, whole,
5g

Fishsticks, 14,4g +3g

Meal 5, Mackerel
17,5g
Milk 7g

Sums up to 164g of protein, which is 20 less then I said.

[quote]Jointe1992 wrote:
Yeah sure! here goes:
meal 1
milk 7g, porridge (whole) 12g.

meal 2
Bread, whole
7,5g

Tuna, 125g
32,4g

Mackerel (in tomato sauce, mixed with tuna)
17,5g

Meal 3, pre workout
Proteinshake, mixed with milk
41,5g

Meal 4
Rice, whole,
5g

Fishsticks, 14,4g +3g

Meal 5, Mackerel
17,5g
Milk 7g

Sums up to 164g of protein, which is 20 less then I said.[/quote]

Whole lot of things I’d change here my friend.

Uh, fish sticks? Is that like, a Captain Highliner type thing?

I would start at the foundation:

  • Set cals at BW x 10 x 1.3- 1.6 (depending how active you are)

  • Reduce by 500 calls if trying to lose fat (if gaining, skip this step).

  • Set protein at 1-1.4g per pound bodyweight.

  • Set fat at 15-20% of total calls if lean, 25-30% if fat.

  • The rest is carbs. Start with Plazma protocol. Those are the carbs you should “spend” your calories on first.

  • Other carbs should be rice, potato, oats, fruit, etc

  • Protein should be animals, eggs, and Metabolic Drive.

  • Fat should be the choices Mertdawg had above.

  • Off days consume less carbs and more fat.

  • Be consistent and don’t expect overnight changes. Still, adjust every 1-2 weeks as needed.

[quote]Bryan Krahn wrote:

I would start at the foundation:

  • Set cals at BW x 10 x 1.3- 1.6 (depending how active you are)

  • Reduce by 500 calls if trying to lose fat (if gaining, skip this step).

  • Set protein at 1-1.4g per pound bodyweight.

  • Set fat at 15-20% of total calls if lean, 25-30% if fat.

  • The rest is carbs. Start with Plazma protocol. Those are the carbs you should “spend” your calories on first.

  • Other carbs should be rice, potato, oats, fruit, etc

  • Protein should be animals, eggs, and Metabolic Drive.

  • Fat should be the choices Mertdawg had above.

  • Off days consume less carbs and more fat.

  • Be consistent and don’t expect overnight changes. Still, adjust every 1-2 weeks as needed.

[/quote]

At 17% bodyfat, I think its better that on a non-training day you top out with an average of no more than 200 grams of carbs. So if we range around 150-200 grams of protein and carbs on non-training days, that is more like 40% fat. It probably comes down to 30-35% on a training day. When BF gets down around 13-14% the carbs can probably come up.

You probably need 60 grams of a good fat profile to avoid deficiencies, so 20-25% would probably be ok for maintenence for someone with lower BF.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]Bryan Krahn wrote:

I would start at the foundation:

  • Set cals at BW x 10 x 1.3- 1.6 (depending how active you are)

  • Reduce by 500 calls if trying to lose fat (if gaining, skip this step).

  • Set protein at 1-1.4g per pound bodyweight.

  • Set fat at 15-20% of total calls if lean, 25-30% if fat.

  • The rest is carbs. Start with Plazma protocol. Those are the carbs you should “spend” your calories on first.

  • Other carbs should be rice, potato, oats, fruit, etc

  • Protein should be animals, eggs, and Metabolic Drive.

  • Fat should be the choices Mertdawg had above.

  • Off days consume less carbs and more fat.

  • Be consistent and don’t expect overnight changes. Still, adjust every 1-2 weeks as needed.

[/quote]

At 17% bodyfat, I think its better that on a non-training day you top out with an average of no more than 200 grams of carbs. So if we range around 150-200 grams of protein and carbs on non-training days, that is more like 40% fat. It probably comes down to 30-35% on a training day. When BF gets down around 13-14% the carbs can probably come up.

You probably need 60 grams of a good fat profile to avoid deficiencies, so 20-25% would probably be ok for maintenence for someone with lower BF.
[/quote]

Not sure I agree. Provided base levels are met, in the end the calories are far more important than percentages.

I do like lower carbs (and lower cals) on off days though, with slightly more fats as fat is more filling.

[quote]Bryan Krahn wrote:

Not sure I agree. Provided base levels are met, in the end the calories are far more important than percentages.

I do like lower carbs (and lower cals) on off days though, with slightly more fats as fat is more filling. [/quote]

I guess it would depend on current insulin sensitivity and also on activity level in a normal non-training day. I have seen studies that insulin sensitivity normalizes fastest at more than 100 and less than 200 grams a day of carbs. I do think though that a chunk of the fat cals would be MCTs from coconut oil which is going to give energy more like carbs, but without the insulin effects.

[quote]Bryan Krahn wrote:

Whole lot of things I’d change here my friend.

Uh, fish sticks? Is that like, a Captain Highliner type thing?

I would start at the foundation:

  • Set cals at BW x 10 x 1.3- 1.6 (depending how active you are)

  • Reduce by 500 calls if trying to lose fat (if gaining, skip this step).

  • Set protein at 1-1.4g per pound bodyweight.

  • Set fat at 15-20% of total calls if lean, 25-30% if fat.

  • The rest is carbs. Start with Plazma protocol. Those are the carbs you should “spend” your calories on first.

  • Other carbs should be rice, potato, oats, fruit, etc

  • Protein should be animals, eggs, and Metabolic Drive.

  • Fat should be the choices Mertdawg had above.

  • Off days consume less carbs and more fat.

  • Be consistent and don’t expect overnight changes. Still, adjust every 1-2 weeks as needed.

[/quote]

Hello, yes it is something like Captain Highliner I guess, a fish fillet covered in something bready.

I have never heard about “Plazma Protocol”, nor about “Metabolic Drive” from protein sources.

I used the fat-calculation machine at my gym today, it looks like a regular scale with some metal plates on the scale and a handle. The results it gave back was not what I expected… 16,2% BF, 68kg muscle (at 85,5kg BW) and 3,5 kg bone. I’m taking this with a pinch of salt. I don’t have abs but slight definition I like to think. The scale is made by a company called Tanita, I didn’t get the model. Anyways it set my maintenance cals to 2130.

Again I’m not sure how accurate those readings are but it should give a slight idea on my stats.

[quote]Jointe1992 wrote:
I used the fat-calculation machine at my gym today, it looks like a regular scale with some metal plates on the scale and a handle. The results it gave back was not what I expected… 16,2% BF, 68kg muscle (at 85,5kg BW) and 3,5 kg bone. I’m taking this with a pinch of salt. I don’t have abs but slight definition I like to think. The scale is made by a company called Tanita, I didn’t get the model. Anyways it set my maintenance cals to 2130.

Again I’m not sure how accurate those readings are but it should give a slight idea on my stats.[/quote]

Your fat should drop, but the bioelectric scale sometimes read low if you are dehydrated, like early in the morning. Does the scale have foot plates and hand grips? Those new ones are pretty accurate even independent of hydration levels, but try to measure the same time of day, and I’d say 1 or 2 times a week at most. At 2130 if you keep your non-training carbs under 200 and get your healthy fats you should do well.

Yes is has plates for the feet and a handle, I did it at 14:00 so I wasn’t dehydrated. They charge you every time you want to do a reading so I don’t think I can do it twice a week.

Then I should stick to 2130 cals on non training days and 2430 on training days?

I’ve had eggs for lunch 2 days in a row now, I usually go for about 4 eggs and something else with that. ~40g’s of fat from the eggs alone. The eggs varies in size however since they are “home-made”. I’m going to buy some avocado the next time I go shopping. Then I have 3 sources with high fat, avocado, nuts and eggs. And some diary fats.