Creating A Muscle Building Diet For Staying Lean

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Last Updated: March 7, 2024

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Creating A Muscle Building Diet For Staying Lean

If you’re at the point with your fitness goals where you really want to focus on and pack on some high-quality lean muscle mass, you likely also want to avoid packing on any additional fat mass.  Unfortunately, some people who begin muscle building find that that’s exactly what happens.  They do gain muscle mass through their efforts, but this muscle mass is also accompanied by large amounts of fat mass as well.

This makes for a much longer process because then after you’re satisfied with the amount of muscle you’ve built up, you’re then going to have to proceed to do a fat loss period after that to lose off all the fat you’ve gained.

But what if you could build muscle without gaining hardly any body fat at all?

If you’re smart, you can do just that.

Here’s how to add muscle mass yet stay lean at the same time by creating a smart high protein muscle building diet.

Plan Your Calorie Intake Carefully

To start off your muscle-building diet planning, be sure that you’re planning your overall calorie intake carefully.  Many people begin the thinking pattern that the more calories they can take in, the faster they will build lean muscle mass.  This, however, isn’t the case.

Since the body can only process so much muscle in a single day, any additional calories taken in above and beyond those needs will likely end up as body fat so limiting your intake is important.  You do definitely require a surplus of calories, but you really don’t need much more than 250 or so calories a day, which would produce about half a pound of muscle gain each week.

Most natural trainees, apart from those who are just starting out, won’t build much more muscle mass than this so use science and mathematics to help you stay leaner.

Be Wise With Carbohydrate Timing

Next, also think carefully about when you’re adding carbohydrates to your diet.  Immediately after a workout is when your body is most likely to utilize the carbohydrates and suck them into the muscle tissues for glycogen replenishment, so this is when they should be heavily consumed.

Then later on in the day when you’re less active, you’ll want to back off the carbohydrate intake slightly to help reduce the chances of insulin spikes and body fat gain. Focus your later meals around protein, healthy fat, and very small amounts of carbohydrates.

Forming your muscle-building diet in this manner also helps to improve recovery rates since you will be taking in so many carbohydrates immediately after the workout, refilling muscle glycogen and allowing you to get back into the gym to train sooner once again.

Consider A Carb Cycling Approach

Now, if you want to take the carbohydrate timing to a whole new level, you may want to think about cycling your carbohydrates as well.  What this would mean is structuring your muscle-building diet so you have very high carbohydrate days on the heavy training days (such as leg days, or if you’re doing full-body workouts, weight lifting days), and then moderate or lower carbohydrate days on the other days during the week.

This allows you to use a higher calorie/carbohydrate surplus on the specific days you are working out without risking fat gain since the calories will be lower on the low carbohydrate days.

Some people find this is the best approach they have ever used, however it does require a bit more planning so you have been willing to put in a bit more time.

Always Track And Monitor Progress

Finally, the last thing that you must make sure you’re doing as you create a muscle building diet designed to keep you as lean as possible is to track your progress at all times.  This means calculating how many calories you’re taking in along with the macronutrient breakdown and regularly monitoring body weight and body fat levels.

Doing so will give you the most control over your training and results and will allow you to see exactly what you should be adjusting in order to get the results you’re looking for.  When these factors are not tracked it’s like you’re taking a blind approach to your progress and will be guessing and testing as to what to change to improve your situation.

Don’t guess – be absolutely sure of what you are now doing and what you need to change to get to where you want to be.  Tracking will allow you to do this.

So don’t fear gaining a high amount of body fat as you go about the process of building muscle.  Instead, focus on creating a muscle building diet that’s smart, effective, and helps you stay lean.  Seeing success with this goal is going to be at least 70% diet effort so it’s something you must put a lot of attention to.

Below you’ll find an example of how you would structure a muscle building diet plan with proper calorie and macronutrient distribution based on a 3500 calorie intake.

Breakfast: 500 calories, 30 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams fat

  • 7 egg whites
  • ½ cup oatmeal (raw measurement)
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Prepare scrambled eggs and serve with a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter mixed in.

Snack: 300 calories, 25 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat

  • 3 slices low-sodium turkey breast deli meat
  • 1 small whole grain wrap
  • 2 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese
  • A simple wrap made with turkey, cheese, and any vegetables you prefer.

Lunch: 500 calories, 30 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 31 grams fat

  • 1 can of canned tuna
  • ½ cup white rice (cooked measurement)
  • Two tablespoons olive oil
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, and onions
  • Stir-fry vegetables in olive oil with your favorite spices.
  • Mix in tuna with a small amount of salsa for flavour and serve over a small bed of rice.

Snack: 300 calories, 25 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat

  • ¾ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 18 almonds
  • Grapes with cottage cheese and almonds on the side.

Pre-Workout Shake: 300 calories, 25 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates

  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1 small bagel with light jelly
  • A quick pre-workout snack with protein and carbs.

Post-Workout Shake: 500 calories, 50 grams protein, 75 grams, carbohydrates

  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 6 tbsp dextrose
  • 1 banana
  • Mix protein and dextrose together with water and have with a banana.

Dinner: 600 calories, 50 grams protein, 75 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat

  • 6 oz chicken breast
  • 1 cup whole grain pasta
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Grill chicken breast and serve with whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce and green beans drizzled with olive oil.

Before Bed Snack: 300 calories, 30 grams protein, 20 grams of fat, incidental carbs (small amounts that come with protein/fat sources)

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Mix peanut butter into cottage cheese and serve.