How to Gain Lean Muscle Mass (Part 2)


MidwestFit Team: Aug 5, 2015


Earlier this week we posted Part 1 of a 3 part series regarding how to gain lean muscle mass. This post is Part 2 and talks about nutrition for gaining muscle. If you would like to read Part 1 about the workouts you can view that here.

This post will not be easy to do in a short and sweet manner but I am going to try my best. Also, it will look a bit challenging at first because it does involve doing some initial calculations to see what you should be eating and how much. But once you make the calculations you are good to go. But in terms of gains and seeing a lot of progress in terms of muscle growth, this is a HUGE part of it. A lot of people say "getting in shape is 80% nutrition 20% workouts". Well honestly I think that is kind of B.S. It is 100% your workout routine and intensity and another 100% nutrition. It all matters the same and is all important. Slack in either one and you are hurting yourself. So want to get jacked and look good, do both and do them properly. Don't want to? Then slack on one or the other.

Alright, so really 3 main things you need to make sure you get the right amount of every day to make sure the food you eat is maximizing your muscle growth. Those three things are: Protein, Carbs, and Fat. These are known as your "macros" and the more you are involved in the lifting world the more you will hear people saying things like "if it fits your macros" and this is what they are talking about. You want to know what your macro numbers are for the day then get as close to them as possible.

Another key is understanding WHEN to eat the carbs. Protein and Fats can basically be eaten at any time as long as you hit the numbers (aside from a serving or protein before and after you lift). But carbs work a bit differently with muscle growth because fast digesting carbs will boost insulin levels (to help with muscle recovery) and slow digesting carbs will assist in sustained energy (to help with lifting heavy).

So let's start with when to eat CARBS

Before a workout you should eat slow digesting carbs roughly 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to lifting. This will make sure you are getting the energy you need to lift heavier which will thus lead to more muscle growth. I highly suggest oatmeal for this. It is easy to make, and very cheap. But other slow digesting carbs include brown rice, whole grain bread, etc. Best bet, just eat a serving of oatmeal before working out. That way you never have to think about it. Avoid oatmeal mixes that have sugar in them. You want plain, steel cut oatmeal.

After your workout is a good time to eat fast digesting carbs. This will spike insulin levels for up to 5 hours after a workout. Spiking insulin levels gets blood to the muscles and helps them with recovery amongst other things. The trick here is not to eat these fast digesting carbs at the wrong time (like late at night before bed). If you eat them at the wrong time and boost your insulin levels, your body will eventually start using it as energy storage for later and thus will store fat. But after a workout, the body needs it immediately and puts it to good use. The perfect fast digesting carb for post workout (in our opinion) is white rice. Just make a big ass tub, and have a cup after the gym with your whey protein shake. 

On to the numbers...

The main key to gaining muscle and not getting fat is to eat the right number of calories, with the right number of protein, carbs and fats in a day (your MACROS remember?). This can be calculated based off your weight as follows:

First, we need to figure out, with a fair amount of accuracy, how much energy you’re burning every day, which is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Here’s how we like to do it:

1. Use the Katch McArdle formula to determine how much energy your body burns every day excluding physical activity, which is known as your basal metabolic rate or BMR.

2. Multiply that number as follows:

By 1.2 if you exercise 1-3 hours per week.

By 1.35 if you exercise 4-6 hours per week. (This is what I'd suggest. 6 lifts at 45 minutes is 4.5 hours. So likely even with some extra activities you will be in this range).

By 1.5 if you exercise 6+ hours per week.

The result will be a fairly accurate measurement of your TDEE (write it down).


Do the following calculation to get the amount of calories you should eat in a day: TDEE X .8 (or 80% of your TDEE) (This will help lose 1lb. of fat per week while still putting on muscle)


Body Weight X 1.2g = Amount of protein you need to eat in a day.


Daily Calorie Intake X .2 then divide by 9 = Amount of HEALTHY fats to eat in a day.


1. Multiply your protein target (grams) by 4.

2. Multiply by your fat target (grams) by 9 and add it to the above number.

3. Subtract the sum from your total daily calorie intake.

4. Divide the amount of calories you have left by 4. There’s your daily carbohydrate target in grams.

(Note: Carbs are your friend if you eat them properly. So if this number seems high don't let it scare you. Carbs when eaten the right way will not make you fat, they will however make you jacked).

I know that seems like a lot, but once calculated just plug them into your phone notes and then you know what you need every day. At very least, definitely hit the protein target. Having a whey protein supplement will make that a lot easier (I will go over supplements in Part 3 of this series).

I know this one is long and probably seems like a lot of work but it is critical to your success and once calculated and you start doing it you'll be fine. Just takes a week or so to get used to but eventually you won't need to be counting the numbers because you will know what foods contain what macros and how much. 

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