Building Muscle


As we mentioned on the general guideline nutrition page: Most teenage girls should consume about 2200 calories per day. Most teenage guys should consume about 2800 calories per day.

Serious athletes who strength train need to consume more calories than the rest of the population in order to maintain a larger muscle mass. If you are a strength training athlete you need to consume 20 calories of food per day for every pound you weigh, just to maintain your current muscle mass.

So if you weigh 140 pounds, you multiply 140 times 20, which equals 2800 calories per day.

If you way 180 pounds, you multiply 180 times 20, which equals 3600 calories per day.

If you want to build more muscle you need to consume even more calories, 25 to 30 calories for every pound you weigh.

A 140 pound athlete would need to consume 3500 to 4200 calories per day to build more muscle.

A 180 pound athlete would need to consume 4500 to 5400 calories per day to build more muscle.


Most people get by on 3 square meals a day. However, body builders should spread their food consumption out into 5 to 6 meals per day for the best results. Since you should be getting 8 hours of sleep, body builders have 16 hours in which to fit their meals. That means eating every 2.5 to 3 hours.

Meal Time Description
1 6:30am Breakfast
2 9am Snack between classes
3 11:30am Lunch
4 2pm Snack before working out
5 5pm Snack after working out
6 8pm Dinner
  10:30pm to 6:30am 8 hours of sleep

You need to look at your schedule and customize an eating routine that allows 5 to 6 evenly spaced meals per day. Consider when your lunch time is, and when your family normally eats dinner. Make sure to give yourself an hour or so to digest your food before working out. And eat a meal rich in carbos and protein within one hour of working out. If you don't have time for a meal, substitute some juice, and a power bar or meal replacement drink in between classes. If you need to save room for dinner, a meal replacement drink is also good as it empties from your stomach more quickly than a normal meal.

What to Eat (portions of carbos, protein and fat)

Now that you've figured out your daily calories, you need to choose from which foods you're going to get them. It's unhealthy to eat tons of meat, like the old bodybuilders used to do. Today we know that it's better to get your calories from a well rounded diet similar to the proportions defined in the "Food Guid Pyramid."

Figure out the amount of carbohydrates you need using one of the following two methods.

  • Method 1
    3.6 grams of carbohydrates for every pound you weigh. (4 calories of carbohydrates per gram)
  • Method 2
    If your daily calories is less than 4,000 per day, get 70% of those calories from carbohydrates. If your daily calories is above 4,000, which is a heck of a lot, then just make sure you are getting 500 to 600 grams of carbohydrate per day.

If you want to maintain your muscle mass, consume 0.6 grams of protein per day for every pound you weigh.

If you want to increase your muscle mass, consume 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein per day for every pound you weigh.

Your remaining calories can come from fat, as long as you keep it under 30% of your daily calories. Make sure most of the fat you consume is unsaturated.


Everyone should drink at least eight 8-ounce cups of caffeine-free, nonalcoholic fluids every day. Athletes need even more.

  • Drink 2 cups of fluid 2 hours before exercise.
  • Just before exercising, measure your weight.
  • If possible, drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • After exercising is complete, measure your weight again. For every pound you lossed during exercise, drink 16 ounces of fluid.


Most things found in supplements can be acquired from a well rounded diet. Some nutrients are absorbed and utilized more efficiently if they are acquired from food as opposed to a pill. Still certain supplements may provide a practical quick way to consume calories and nutrients on the go, and may provide additional benefits as well.

Meat is the best dietary source for creatine and popular among today's athletes. If you are a vegetarian and you strength train, creatine supplements may help you build and maintain muscle.

To load your muscles with creatine, consume 5 grams of creatine monohydrate four times per day for 5 days. From then on, consume 2 grams per day. Any more won't help.

Fluid replacement drinks
If you exercise for over 1 hour, fluid and electrolyte replacers like ultra fuel, gatoraid, and exceed sports drink can help you recover.

Carbohydrate supplements
Consuming a meal-replacement beverage, such as ensure, just after muscle-building exercise may be a practical way to stimulate muscle growth. Protein and carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin and growth hormone, which are both involved in muscle growth.

Study has shown that taking creatine with 17 ounces of liquid carbohydrate supplement increases muscle creatine concentrations by up to 60%, and thus may help you build and maintain muscle.

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Manore MM, Thompson J, Russo M: Diet and exercise strategies of a world-class bodybuilder. Int J Sport Nutr 1993;3(1):76-86

Kleiner SM, Calabrese LH, Fiedler KM, et al: Dietary influences on cardiovascular disease risk in anabolic steroid-using and nonusing bodybuilders. J Am Coll Nutr 1989;8(2):109-119

Lemon PW: Do athletes need more dietary protein and amino acids? Int J Sport Nutr 1995;5(suppl):S39-S61

Green AL, Hultman E, Macdonald IA, et al: Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans. Am J Physiol 1996;271(5 pt 1):E821-E826

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