T Nation

Lean Muscle Gain Nutrition


#1

Hello everyone,
I’m starting to take my nutrition a bit more seriously to try to add some muscle. Articles by CT and Chris against bulking resonate with me, so I want to gain as much muscle as possible while minimizing fat gain.

About me:

  • 22 year old male, 5’5’’, 140 lbs, around 8% BF (at least that’s what the caliper roughly puts me at every week).

After some reading about calorie intake for muscle gain, I started off with 2900 daily calories four weeks ago. 100% real food, no junk. I’ve put 7 lbs in those 4 weeks (little fat apparently, so I imagine it’s a lot of water weight?).

This was the first week where I actually weighed less than last week. Just a few questions, as I’m fairly new at this:

  1. If I find I did not even maintain the weight as last week, does that mean I should increase to maybe 3000 calories? Or is it normal in a more quality mass diet to sometimes drop weight in a week?

  2. I do feel somewhat hungry on some days. I eat little veggies admittedly, so I can eat more of those to feel fuller. However, I always hear quality muscle gain nutrition requires a lot of eating, and it doesn’t feel too hard. Is that an indication that I should increase calories?

I didn’t find much about point #2 on these forums (hunger being ok while putting on muscle), so I was hoping to hear some thoughts.

Thanks for the help and sorry for the huge post!


#2

Although some people will say that a calorie is not just a calorie, I think it is. Obviously, fats/carbs/proteins are processed in their own unique ways in your body, but when it comes down to it, a caloric surplus will lead to weight gain.

My suggestion for you is make sure you’re eating enough protein and carbs. Fats are important for keeping your hormones acting right, but for anyone who wants to gain muscle, protein and carbs should be the primary focus. I’ve read that protein intake should be anywhere from .9g/lb of bodyweight to 2g/lb of bodyweight, with the latter being a little excessive and overambitious bro science. If you eat too much protein, your body will simply not be able to use it (too much being 2g/lb/BW).

At 140lb, I recommend eating 150-175g/protein every day if you’re truly training hard. I am currently 203lb at 13% BF with the same goals as you, and I’ve been eating 80-90g/fat every day without adding any body fat. I eat 170-200g/protein a day and I’m gaining strength and size steadily. I would eat more, but it’s hard for me to eat that much in a day. My carbs are generally between 330-400g/day which is amazing; I get plenty in the morning, before, and after my workout. I’m only at ~2800 cal/day, so you might need more carbs or protein. There hasn’t been a day in the last year where I’ve gone to the gym feeling like my muscles were low on glycogen which is all thanks to the high carb diet.

These are just my recommendations based on my personal experience. I’m not a macro-tracking fanatic, but every week or so I will track everything I’d generally been eating for the last few days to make sure my macros aren’t getting out of whack.

If you don’t believe me, or if you want to be 100% sure about what your macros should be, I recommend using Avatar Nutrition. It gets pretty in depth and has a lot of tools to help you hone in your diet. I’ve been using it for about 2 months, and that’s how I figured out what my macros should be for moderate lean muscle gain. Sorry for the ridiculously long response–I know dieting can be tough, and even impossible when you don’t know what the heck you should be eating. I hope I gave you some idea of how to gain a little weight.

Long story short, yes. Increase your calories to 3000. :slight_smile:


#3

Hey cheers for the reply! I didn’t notice it until now.

Your guidelines make a ton of sense. I actually track my macros as well. I settled on 210 grams of Protein per day (1.5 times my BW), 100 grams of Fats a day (roughly 28% of the calories from 3000 calories… I heard between 20-30% was a good idea), and 315 grams of Carbs (the leftover calories).

I guess my Protein intake is a bit higher than what you recommended, and hence, the carbs are a little low. I’m not really sure what “muscles depleted of glycogen” even feels like, but I don’t think that’s been the case.

I did bump it up to 3000. What’s strange is that it’s super easy for me to eat that. I have 6 eggs in the morning, a reasonable portion of chicken in afternoon and night, and I already meet the protein. A cup of brown rice a day makes the carbs pretty easy. And nuts are real high in fats too. So I don’t know.

I started adding more vegetables because otherwise, I really don’t feel full. It’s strange.