In the last article I put out we spoke about the top 3 things you can do with you training to help build muscle. Today we’re looking at the other side of the coin: nutrition.


Nutrition is an area of huge debate and unnecessary anger when someone tries to discredit someone else’s way of eating. It’s all a little bit ridiculous.


So in this article, I’m going to give you my top 3 tips on how to eat if you want to build muscle, based on my experience coaching people, coaching myself, and my many thousands of hours with my head in books trying to scratch the surface of what we need to do. And it’s really not that complex.


Nutrition Tip #1: – Eat More Food

Right, first things first – we can’t make changes to our weight without manipulating calories. Calories govern everything and the law of thermodynamics is irrefutable. In simple terms, there’s no way around calories in vs calories out. Therefore – if we want to aggressively build muscle, we need to get in an aggressive caloric surplus, i.e. eating more calories than we burn off.


This is the first and biggest mistake that people make with their diets when they’re trying to get bigger. They just aren’t eating enough. If you know that you have a fast metabolism and you’re training hard, and you have an active job – you’re burning off a hell of a lot of calories every single day. If you want to grow, you not only have to replace those calories lost to expenditure but you have to go over and above with your consumption.


Now, a barrier to eating more food can be that you’re just not hungry enough. This is a huge problem, but there’s a couple of things you can do to push calories up without making yourself a human water balloon.


Firstly, choose calorie dense foods. Red meats, heavy carb meals, and don’t forget that fats are more than double the amount of calories per gram than carbs and protein are. So don’t discount fatty fish (salmon etc), nuts, eggs, avocado, cheese to bump the calories up.


Secondly, you need to pay attention to the areas of the day that you are actually hungry – and eat then. If you have a tendency to be more hungry at night take advantage of that and eat more (but don’t starve yourself through the day). Another good option to get the calories in is in the post workout window (1-2 hours post workout), this is a good time to get some fast acting carbs and a shake in, followed shortly afterwards by a carb heavy meal.


This brings me on to my second piece of advice for today:


Nutrition Tip #2: Time Your Meals Properly

Once we’ve established a good level for your overall caloric intake, we then need to look at how we time the meals over the course of the day.


The way I look at nutrition – past the basic thermodynamic aspect of weight management, is we should eat to perform. We need to set up our diets to help us get stronger in the gym and fuel our training, so we get bigger.


Therefore, so long as we can fit it in around our lifestyles, splitting meals up and spacing them apart by 2-3 hours will be the ideal way to start. Beyond that, we need to look at the timing of our carbs.


Carbs are the fuel we use to go about our daily tasks. That includes training, so unless we train very early in the morning, it’s a good idea to have some carbs in you before your session. However, eating a large serving of carbs too close to the workout can leave you feeling sleepy and lethargic for your session. I find that most people don’t handle carbs well immediately before they train and it negatively impacts their session.


The best time to load up on the carbs is usually after you’ve trained, replacing the glycogen and nutrients lost during training. I like to go for some quick acting carbs immediately post workout (something sugary), and then slower digesting ‘cleaner’ sources of carbs in the hours and meals to follow (rice, potato etc).


Nutrition Tip #3: Pay Attention To Micronutrients

There’s a huge segment of the fitness industry that preaches about the ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ way of dieting. Essentially, what they say is that as long as you have the right amount of protein, carbs and fats, you can eat whatever the hell you want. Be that chicken and broccoli or a fat dirty big mac.


Now, for the average person that pays no attention to nutrition, this is a good starting point. It gets you conscious of calories and macronutrients at a basic level and is great for weight management. However, in the context of what we’re talking about, this way of eating isn’t a great option for performance or optimising health, or ultimately building a great deal of muscle.


In order to become healthier, stronger and more muscular people we need to pay some sort of attention to micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals of our diet. Each one of these has their own specific function in the body and adding the right amounts of something you’re deficient in can really open the door for you to make a ton of progress.


It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into every specific of every mineral that you should be concerned with but to get you thinking – sodium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin D are just a few of the essential nutrients you should be concerned with getting in and these are all totally possible through the diet (Vit D maybe the only one you should consider supplementing).


For more information on this I’d recommend looking up Stan Efferding’s Vertical Diet programme as that’s the best resource I’ve ever come across in regards micronutrients.


Wrapping Up

I hope this article was useful in giving you a little bit of direction when it comes to setting up a diet to build muscle. Hit these 3 basic tips, alongside implementing the advice I gave in the training tips article, and you’ll be well on your way to making some serious progress.


Don’t forget to check out my content on other platforms:

Facebook: Andy Clements Fitness

Instagram: @andyclements01

YouTube: Andy Clements Fitness





PS – Enjoy this blog? Don’t forget to check out the Blog Section for more useful articles