Those looking to gain weight are told over and over again to eat all foods, all the time. If you aren’t eating you aren’t gaining, right? This is true, but if you take this advice, you’re much more likely to get fat and unhealthy rather than muscular and in shape. If you want to gain clean weight (muscle) you need to eat clean foods instead of processed junk that is usually associated with unwanted and unsightly fat.

Calories

The first part to the muscle diet is calorie intake. Without a sufficient amount of calories, there’s no way to gain any muscle. To gain muscle, you need to take in more calories than you burn. This calorie surplus will be used toward building and repairing muscle tissue (getting bigger). Without this surplus, you can say goodbye to pretty much any muscle gains.

Start by estimating your calorie expenditure by using a tool such as the calorie calculator. To gain muscle, you need to eat more than you burn. Begin your muscle diet by eating 500 calories over what you burn on a daily basis. This will allow you to gain 1 pound per week. Not all of that weight will be muscle because an unfortunate side effect of gaining muscle is putting on some body fat.

It’s almost impossible to gain muscle without gaining some fat. The slower you put the muscle on, the less fat will go along with it. Though you can eat 1,000 calories more than you burn and gain double the weight during one week(2 pounds per week), doing so will also mean more fat weight. Slower weight gain means a higher percentage of it will be muscle.

After you increase your calorie intake, monitor your weight closely. Weigh yourself at the same time each day. If you’re not gaining weight as fast as you’d like or are losing weight, increase your intake by 200-300 calories per day. Monitor your weight for a week and keep adjusting your intake until you start gaining weight at your desired rate.

If you’re gaining weight too quickly, decrease your intake by 200-300 calories per day and make any changes after one week of monitoring your weight. You’ll be fine tuning your calorie intake for the first few weeks until you learn how your body works.

Types of Calories

Though calories are important, the types of food you eat will also help you gain more muscle. You want to limit your food choices to only healthy ones. A food loses its healthy properties as it undergoes more and more processing. A salad is very healthy while a burger from McDonald’s is not.

If you’re trying to put on muscle, you need to eat foods that are both healthy and high in calories. This isn’t the easiest mix to find but putting in the extra effort rather than eating anything you see will lead to healthier and cleaner gains (less fat). Your diet needs to be balanced with healthy fats, carbs and proteins.

Fats

Fats are very important in your overall diet. They are the building blocks for hormones without which, you wouldn’t gain any weight. Completely eliminating them from your diet in hopes of being cut won’t work and will actually slow down your gains. Eating fat won’t make you fat, only excess calories will. You can get fat from eating too many carbs and too much protein. Don’t let the word ‘fat’ fool you.

You should concentrate on getting most of your fat from unsaturated sources. Foods high in these fats include fish, oils and nuts. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products such as meat, dairy and egg yolks.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. Carbs can also be split up into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbs are found in refined flours and (white bread), fruit juices, soda, doughnuts, pastries and any food that is high in sugar. These carbs are good before, during and after a workout as they are digested quickly and are a good source of quick energy. Complex carbs take longer to digest and can be found in 100% whole wheat flour (bread/pasta), brown rice, oats, beans, vegetables, fruits and legumes.

Proteins

Proteins are made up of individual amino acids. Our body can make some amino acids but others we need to get from the foods we eat. Amino acids that the body can make are called non-essential. The ones that the body can’t make are called essential. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles In order for the body to use a protein to rebuild damaged muscle tissue and make you bigger and stronger, it must contain all the essential amino acids. Proteins that contain all the essential amino acids are complete proteins.

You want to get most of your protein from complete sources. Complete proteins are found almost exclusively in animal products. Poultry, fish, low fat dairy and supplements are your best choices since they’re lower in saturated fat than most animal products (beef and pork). Vegetarians can mix different foods to make complete proteins.

The Bottom Line

The muscle diet isn’t about eating whatever you want whenever you want. If you eat too much, you’ll gain too much fat. What’s the point of that if you’re going to get rid of it later? You need to eat more than most people but not so much more that you start hating the sight of food. If you increase your calorie intake by eating healthy foods, your gains will be healthier and your results will be cleaner.

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