Eating to build lean muscle mass versus eating to lose fat tend to be relatively the same in terms of food selection and meal planning with the only difference being when you are striving to build muscle, you’ll eat far more carbohydrates and healthy fats.
When it comes to building muscle, as we mentioned in the calorie requirement section of this course, you’re going to have to increase your calorie intake above maintenance rather than decrease it.
Many people get under the impression that they should just eat as much as possible while trying to build muscle, but this will rapidly lead to fat gain.
Remember that you can only build so much muscle at once, so you need to practice some moderation here to keep things under control.
250-500 calories above maintenance per day tends to work best for those seeking muscle building results. You can go higher than this if you wish and want to speed up your rate of fat loss, but don’t go too high or you will be having to diet off that weight down the road.
In terms of your macronutrient intake, don’t let yourself think that more protein equals more muscle mass. While your protein needs may go up slightly, they won’t to an incredibly large extent, so you really just need to focus on adding more carbohydrates and dietary fats to the picture.
These are the foods that will best provide the energy to generate that lean muscle tissue.
Also don’t let yourself think that since you need so many calories, it’s fine to turn to unhealthy foods to get this calorie intake up. That isn’t the case and if you want to stay lean and still maintain good health, you need to be eating smart food choices as well.
So rather, focus on eating more of the good foods you ate while striving for fat loss (or weight maintenance). That will provide the best results when it comes to building muscle while staying lean in the long term.
Make sure to focus these additional calories around the workout period as much as possible as this is when you are most anabolic and more likely to build the lean muscle mass you’re after.
Next we’ll go over some important points to know for optimizing athletic performance.