Diet to increase muscle mass


If your purpose is to  increase muscle mass, it is important that you be aware of the importance of the binomial physical exercise + diet. The correct combination between a good training plan and adequate dietary guidelines will make you obtain your best results and increase your performance to the maximum.

How should your diet be to increase your muscle mass?

If we aim to increase our muscle mass, it is necessary that we provide an extra caloric level, that is, our energy needs will be increased since more energy is required to promote protein synthesis. We will climb around 400-500kcal .

This caloric increase in our dietary guidelines can lead to a weight gain of up to 0.5kg in muscle mass per week , although it is really a very ambitious goal since not only does the intensity of physical activity and our diet influence, but also Other factors intervene such as the genetics of each athlete and the different hormonal situations. Gaining weight faster can lead to a simultaneous increase in fat mass.

Different strategies to gain muscle

As in all cases, the diet must be personalized to the physical characteristics of each person (age, sex, intensity and type of exercise, stage of life, physiological state, body composition, objectives …), their schedules and their preferences food.

In order to increase our caloric intake there is no single correct approach, but there are different strategies that we can use to address this purpose, such as:

  • Increase the frequency of our meals.
  • Eating foods and / or beverages with high caloric density without significantly increasing the volume of our meals.
  • Ensure optimal carbohydrate intake before, during and after exercise.
  • Plan your meals in advance to avoid skipping meals and ensure you always have good options on hand.

We are going to investigate a little more about how our diet should be composed.


An increase in the consumption of carbohydrates is essential in our eating pattern. This macronutrient should constitute between 60-70% of the total caloric value of our intake, always choosing the best options: legumes, tubers, whole grains, vegetables, fruit … Even so, we must be careful when introducing the richest in fiber before sports practice, these should be reserved for after exercise or for rest days, since on the contrary, they can cause intestinal discomfort.

Carrying out an adequate recovery at the carbohydrate level will allow us to make a correct replacement of our glycogen stores, thus avoiding a greater loss of muscle mass (since it increases protein catabolism).

In summary, the contribution of carbohydrates in our diet should be increased since in this way we will ensure a correct muscle synthesis and consequently a growth of muscle tissue . In addition, we will obtain a greater glycogen load in our muscles, which will allow us to optimize our sports performance .


Proteins are an essential macronutrient in muscle growth, since they are responsible for executing different functions at the physiological level: They actively participate in the immune system, have a significant role in physical performance and also participate at a structural level in the tissue muscular.

Although proteins are important molecules, they would not be essential as an energy source since during physical activity we usually obtain energy from other substrates, mainly carbohydrates and fats.

To achieve the objective of increasing our muscle percentage, a contribution between 1.6-1.8g of protein / kg of weight / day should be followed and to maintain it between 1.2-1.8g of protein / kg of weight / day . If the glycogen stores at muscle and liver level are empty, protein needs may be increased. In different studies it has been observed that a higher intake does not provide any additional benefit in terms of increasing muscle mass . As always, we must individualize the protein intake for each individual since these parameters are general recommendations.

It is important to prioritize proteins of high biological value such as egg or milk protein. In vegetarian athletes or those who want to reduce their consumption of protein foods of animal origin, we can include legumes (such as chickpeas or soybeans) or other pseudo-cereals such as quinoa or amaranth, since these contain all the essential amino acids. On the other hand, the other legumes that lack complete protein, if properly combined (cereal + legume) can also be a good source of protein, since by carrying out this combination, we would be complementing the different amino acid profiles, forming complete protein.


Fats also play a role in increasing muscle mass, they can be used like carbohydrates, as a source of energy during the course of physical activity. Even so, in strength and hypertrophy exercises, carbohydrates are often used as an energy substrate.

A contribution between 25-35% of the total caloric value of our diet is recommended, even so, it is essential that we prioritize the consumption of healthy fats such as: olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts and blue fish. This micronutrient will help our body absorb vitamins, thus promoting proper growth and development of muscle.

Ebook: Nutrition to increase muscle mass

In this book we give you all the keys so that you can increase your muscle mass. We will explain how to approach your diet, nutrients and main foods, practical menu ideas with examples for different weights and much more.

Do not miss it! Take me to the ebook

Post exercise recovery

It is also important to consider post-workout recovery . An intake should be made during the 6 hours after training, preferably during the first 2, since it will be the optimal time to recharge muscle glycogen. In this way, the athlete will benefit from a good recovery and we will ensure that subsequent training sessions are of high quality, thus achieving maximum performance.

A correct mixture between carbohydrates and proteins must be carried out since the evidence shows that adding a certain amount of protein to carbohydrates after sports practice helps a more dynamic recovery of muscle glycogen stores, unlike if it was done only with the carbohydrate.

The recommended ratio would be 3: 1 or 4: 1 (HC: P). The ideal would be 1-1.15g of carbohydrate / kg weight / day and around 0.4-0.5g protein / kg weight / day. That is, in the case of a person weighing 70kg, they should take a recuperator that contains around 70-105g of carbohydrate and 28-35g of protein. This will depend on the characteristics of each person and their objective.

Which muscle recuperator to choose?

Ideally, the recuperator is in the form of a drink in order to facilitate the digestion and assimilation of these foods. It is also important that it is composed of simple carbohydrates or high glycemic index (since a maximum insulin peak is produced and this helps to restore the deposits faster), and by proteins, for its anabolic power. It is also convenient that it contains a minimum amount of sodium (1-1.5g / L) to better retain fluids and recover the salts lost during training.We can find on the market brands of recuperators already prepared with a 3: 1 and 4: 1 ratio, or we can make homemade recuperators with the appropriate proportion to our needs and with natural foods.

Is supplementation necessary to gain muscle mass?

It will be of little use to us to supplement ourselves if we do not follow a correct food planning as a basis. The first step should always be to correct our habits and get the best results from a correct diet. Once we have internalized how our nutrition should be, then we can assess whether in our case it would be necessary to supplement ourselves.

The supplements that have been shown to be beneficial in terms of increasing the percentage of muscle are: whey protein, creatine and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) , which is a metabolite of leucine.

Here is a video of my partner Natalia Celma where she also clarifies concepts about sports supplementation: is important that you always seek the advice of a dietitian-nutritionist specialized in sports nutrition in case you are interested in supplementing.

Menu proposal

Below I have wanted to prepare an example of a menu for two days since many times when we have this objective, we make the mistake of following monotonous eating guidelines based on rice and chicken , that is, a food rich in carbohydrates and another in proteins. As we have seen, these macronutrients are necessary but they are not only found in these foods so remember to choose quality foods and vary your diet!

 Day 1Day 2
BREAKFASTPorridge of oat flakes with rice drink and 2 kiwis.Glass of milk.
Serrano ham sandwich. 1 bowl of grapes.
MIDMORNINGHummus sandwich with arugula and tomato slices + 1 fresh orange juice.Yogurt with chia seeds and blueberries + 1 banana with a handful of chestnuts.
FOODMacaroni with ratatouille. Beef steak with baked potato. Natural yogurt with red berries.Cream of mushrooms, leek and potato.
Sauteed spaghetti with chanterelles and two poached eggs.
Fruit salad.
SNACKToast with quince.Yogurt with corn flakes.
POST-TRAININGRecovery shake with 0% beaten cheese, strawberries and honey.Recovery shake based on kefir with raspberries and whey.
DINNERRice salad. Baked sea bass with vegetables and potato. Curd.Potato salad.
Grilled sardines accompanied by tomato bread.
Yogurt with jam.
RECENAGlass of milk with puffed quinoa.Homemade Banana Oatmeal Cookies (see recipe below)

Banana Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Ingredients: Ripe bananas and rolled oats. Optional: cinnamon, defatted cocoa with no added sugar.

Preparation: Crush the bananas and mix them with the oat flakes. Add, if you want, cinnamon or defatted cocoa powder. Bake for 15-20 minutes and let them cool.


To obtain the best results, it is necessary to emphasize good healthy habits (optimal training, regenerative rest and well-planned nutrition and hydration). These will promote a good physiological state, which will lead to a better response to both training and good guidelines at the level of nutrition .

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