December 13, 2021 9 min read

If you’re looking for the fastest way to gain lean muscle mass quickly, you will need to have a real nutrition plan that is optimized for bulking. To achieve safe muscle gain that lasts, you have to provide your body with the right raw materials at the right times. We’ll take a look at some of the best ways to do that below.

A full daily diet of healthy eating. Food in cardboard boxes

How Much You Should Be Eating

Realize that you need to supply the body with a surplus of calories, which is the additional fuel that the body uses to generate new lean muscle mass tissue. Most average male athletes can maintain their weight at around eighteen calories per pound of bodyweight, so you’ll need to add more calories to this intake if you want to spark any significant new growth.

First, your body composition (the percentage of body fat versus the percentage of lean muscle) remains constant when you burn the same number of calories that you consume. To safely and effectively gain muscle, you need to increase your total calorie needs by at least 3500 calories per week, or about 500 extra calories per day, depending on your activity level. 

As much as you may dislike calorie counting, it is vital for your weight gain as well as for fat loss. Targeting muscle gain this way ensures that you gain lean muscle and minimize fat accumulation. The result is about a pound of muscle gained every week. It’s important to understand that when adopting a muscle-gain diet, you are also going to have some fat gain. A one-to-two-pound a week weight gain goal should average 75% muscle and 25% fat. 

The 3,500 Calorie Rule 

Many people have heard the equation that 3,500 calories is equivalent to one pound of fat. However, a caloric deficit or surplus of 3,500 doesn’t necessarily mean one pound of weight loss or gain. The 3,500 calorie rule only pertains to the gain or loss of one pound of body fat, but it does not apply to other aspects of body weight. 

In other words, losing one pound of body fat does not mean you are going to lose one pound of total weight because other systems are affected by changes in calories consumed. If you drop calories mostly from carbohydrates, you may be losing more total weight than just one pound of fat, because the drop in carbohydrates also creates some water loss as you lose fat.

Calorie Surplus 

A small calorie surplus is needed, consistently, to create a new pound of muscle. Most people can only gain a few pounds of actual muscle per month. If you are gaining muscle you will not need quite as many calories as you think. You actually need a small consistent surplus that you raise every few weeks based on your optimal results. It takes a lot of time and energy to build muscle and increase your metabolic rate but unfortunately you cannot force the process.

Measuring Muscle Gain

It’s important to recognize that just because the scale says you gained weight, that does not mean you gained muscle weight. It is a good strategy to measure your body fat percentage every four to six weeks weeks, in addition to your body-girth measurements such as your chest, arms, or waist. This will help determine whether your weight gain is mostly an increase in lean muscle or adipose tissue (fat). 

Fat tests vary widely, but the most important thing is to use the same test throughout your performance nutrition plan. Also, have the same practitioner administer your body fat test each time. Varying the type of test and the tester can result in inaccurate measurements. 

Finally, muscle-gain goals should occur during the off-season so that performance is not sacrificed. You should aim to reach your target weight about eight weeks before the beginning of the season to give your body enough time to adjust to your new weight and composition before you begin competing. 

When to Be Eating 

When it comes to how often you should be eating, since you are going to have a much higher calorie intake, it is best to eat something every three or four hours. If you eat just three times a day, it can be hard to reach a calorie intake of 4000 calories, for example. So if you divide up your intake into six meals a day, you’ll feel energized after each one and your muscles will get a steady stream of nutrients. 

Try to eat at least 20-30 grams of protein at each of these meals, as well as some simple carbohydrates right before and after your training and workout sessions. This is the prime time for muscle growth, so you want to feed your body proper nourishment in the form of a high protein intake. About four hours after an intense workout, try to consume mostly unprocessed complex carbs. Here is a bulleted list of these key nutrient timing tips: 

  • Eat every three or four hours, and aim for six small meals during the day 
  • Try not to just cram your calories into three big meals to avoid feeling sluggish 
  • Eat at least twenty grams of protein at each meal 
  • Eat simple carbohydrates directly before and after your training sessions
  • Eat unprocessed complex carbs about four hours after an intense workout 

Also Consider Your Liquid Calories 

Another thing you will need to consider is your consumption of liquid calories. Trying to eat whole foods with such a high caloric intake can cause digestive problems for some people, so try making high-calorie shakes with added protein. 

A good way to do this is to mix together some milk, protein powder, Greek yogurt, frozen or fresh fruit, flaxseeds or nut butter to boost your overall caloric intake. This is a fast and easy way to consume more calories depending on your body needs. 

If you drink a lot of other liquids during the day, that can be a good thing to keep you hydrated, but always be aware of how many calories each drink has so that you don’t sabotage your diet with too many excess calories.

Burning All of Those Additional Calories 

Muscle tissue will burn up to ten calories daily per pound. Fat will burn up to three calories daily per pound. So replacing a pound of fat with muscle helps you burn an additional seven more calories per pound each day. Therefore, people with a greater muscle mass have a higher caloric need. 

People with a lean body mass may even be able to consume more calories a day and still maintain their body weight (leading to a situation known as maintenance calories), while people with a higher body fat percentage will gain weight if they cannot maintain a consistent calorie deficit. 

The amount of calories you can eat from having an extra few pounds of muscle is quite small. Having more muscle mass helps keep you leaner, but it also depends on how much you burn at rest. Muscle makes you more sensitive to insulin, which means you are hormonally healthier and the food you eat will more likely be burned off as energy or stored in the muscles rather than as fat.

How To Gain Weight And Build Muscle at the Same Time

As we discussed above, only a nutrient-dense healthy diet will promote lean muscle development and size. All of your conditioning can lead to the phenomenon of hypertrophy, which is something that can directly build all of your major muscles. Here are a few more things to consider when you are trying to gain weight and build muscle at the same time.

1. High-Quality Protein

Consuming enough high-quality protein is essential for building muscle. To maximise your muscle growth, select high-quality proteins like whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building. If you are intolerant to milk, stick to whey-only protein shakes. 

2. Consider the Fats

Fat is also a very important nutrient in your diet. For example, some of the essential fats found in oily fish have positive effects on your brain, vision and heart health. Total dietary fat should supply about 30% of your daily calorie intake. To keep the body’s normal processes functioning as they should, include some fat in your diet, especially the ‘good’ fats, otherwise known as polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. You need to eat the right kinds of fats and avoid the wrong ones (namely saturated and trans fats).

Healthy fats include cold water oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, and sardines), extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts (unsalted), avocado, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or flaxseed. Nuts are a great snack if you want to gain weight, because they are high in calories and they contain monounsaturated fats, a good source of protein, fiber and other essential minerals. If you don’t eat any oily fish, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement, such as cod liver oil or flaxseeds. 

3. Carbohydrates And Creatine

Eating the right types of carbs is important too. Carbohydrates are stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise. Stay away from junk carbohydrates like sweets and cakes and stick to foods like pasta, rice (brown), bread (whole grain), and low or reduced sugar cereals to lower any excess calories that those foods contain. 

Creatine can be used to increase your strength, build your muscles, and support your training intensity. It contains an easily digested source of carbohydrate to fuel your workout before or after. By adding creatine to your diet, in a shake, in food or in capsules, can increase strength, build muscle size, and support training intensity. 

4. Get More Sleep

Try and make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you want to get impressive results from your workout routine, manage your stress levels and stay as calm as possible. If you are not already sleeping seven to nine hours a night, try going to bed earlier or create an effective pre-bed routine. If time permits, try a massage or sit in a hot sauna after your workout.

5. Choose Effective Strength Training Exercises

Performing the right strength training exercises at high loads or training volumes can really speed up your progress. Build your workout routine mainly around basic compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, lat pulldowns (or chins) and shoulder press. Lat pulldowns can be used to develop back strength for beginners who cannot yet do chin-ups. The lat pulldown is a good way to build the latissimus dorsi muscles of your upper back.

When done with proper form, these types of exercises will stimulate muscle growth and strength by the stress they place on your muscles and the nervous and hormonal responses they produce. To maximise your strength and mass gains, stick to compound exercises. Avoid endless isolation exercises like tricep kickbacks and leg extensions. 

6. Don't Do Too Much Cardio

If you're burning too many calories during your cardio sessions, then you risk doing so at the expense of muscle and strength gains. Cardio exercise actually blunts the natural biochemistry to build muscle. If you really want to gain muscle and size, cut your cardio down to a couple of light sessions per week. You should do light aerobic exercise regularly to help keep you active and healthy. The fitter you are, the more productive your workout and overall recovery will be. If you are doing cardio and are worried about potential muscle loss, just watch the frequency and intensity of your exercise.

bodybuilder drinking protein shake at the gym

7. Consider the Post-Workout Muscle-Building Period

After a cardio workout, make sure to consume protein and carbs soon after. Fuelling your body correctly after training is critical in your quest for more muscle. Have a suitable recovery drink as soon as possible after your workout.

A combination of carbs and fast digesting proteins (such as whey protein) is the ideal post workout nutrition plan that you can set up at home. Providing protein after your exercise session will help to support gains in muscle mass. Building a large amount of muscle isn’t easy and your body needs to be fuelled.

Getting Started

To allow your body enough time to recover and to start building your muscles, always be sure to get enough rest (for up to 48 hours) before you keep training the same muscle groups. Rest and nutrition can really influence your weightlifting and bodybuilding goals.

You might also find these alternative exercises in your workout program very useful when it comes to reaching better health and gaining better overall mobility.

Always consult a nutritionist or personal trainer to find out what types of strategies will work best for your body needs.

A good way to add a lot of muscle mass quickly is to add the Ripped Stack to your routine.