Sports Nutrition For Gaining Muscle Mass

Time for reading: ~11 minutes Last Updated: August 09, 2022
Sports Nutrition For Gaining Muscle Mass

How to eat right for a quick and effective set of muscle mass? Read the details of nutrition for mass gain and muscle growth in our article.


  • Why do you need muscle mass.
  • The role of a complete diet and diet in building muscle mass.
  • Macronutrients in nutrition for building muscle mass.
  • Micronutrients that promote muscle growth.
  • The athlete's grocery basket is a shopping list.
  • Sports Supplements – Necessary or Optional Supplement?
  • Classification of sports supplements, recommendations for admission.

Sports nutrition for mass gain - sounds very professional. And many do not realize that healthy muscle mass is needed by everyone, without exception, and not just athletes and bodybuilders. Why - we analyze in detail.

Why you need muscle mass

The human body consists of more than 600 muscles.

According to the norm, an adult man should have about 40% of the muscles, a woman - about 35%, the elderly - about 30%, and athletes - up to 50%.

Muscle mass is the most powerful consumer of energy. The more muscles, the more energy they require, which means that with the same calorie intake, a person with more muscle mass can remain at a constant weight or lose weight, and with less muscle mass, gain weight.

Strong and healthy muscles help to improve the blood supply to the bones and joints, which leads to the strengthening of the musculoskeletal system.


The role of a complete diet and diet in building muscle mass

The best sports nutrition for muscle growth is a complete diet, and only secondarily various supplements. To gain lean muscle mass, nutrition should be of high quality, balanced in proteins, fats and carbohydrates and should not contain "empty" or harmful products, such as buns, chocolate bars, industrial cookies, sweet carbonated drinks, packaged juices. They contain many calories, but are nutritionally poor - contain almost no vitamins, minerals, fiber.

To understand which nutraceuticals help the body recover from workouts and gain muscle mass, see the lesson from practicing sports nutritionists "Nutraceutical Support in Fitness and Sports".


Nutritional goals for weight gain:

  • providing the body with all the necessary nutrients,
  • daily work support
  • recovery after stress,
  • maximum results without harm to health,
  • development of metabolic flexibility.

Diet is the most important factor that determines how many substances are absorbed, how much will be used to obtain energy and build new muscle fibers, and how much is deposited in fat. The regulation of hormones responsible for the growth of muscle mass also depends on the diet. For example, the hormone insulin is the main assistant for both muscle growth and adipose tissue growth. Insulin is released when eating, with different foods - a different amount. From the time of eating (before training or after, for how long) it will depend on which pool will replenish insulin: muscle or fat.

Before strength training After strength training 3-4 hours before protein + complex carbohydrates (buckwheat + lean poultry + vegetable oil salad) 1-1.5 hours before a small meal: high GI carbohydrates up to 70% + 30% easily digestible proteins (banana shake with animal or plant milk) After 30 minutes, high GI carbohydrates 60% + easily digestible proteins 40% (gainer, protein shake with fruits)

Macronutrients for muscle building


Proteins are the main building material for muscles. Some amino acids act as powerful anabolic factors (for example, BCAAs trigger protein synthesis through the release of insulin), and some are needed for effective muscle building. In addition, proteins are also an energy substrate; 1 gram of protein breaks down to give 4 kilocalories.

Human muscles are made up of 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and must come from food or supplements. Both the synthesis (formation) and the breakdown of proteins are constantly taking place in the body. And when synthesis prevails, there is an increase in muscle mass. If some essential amino acid is missing, the process of synthesis of the body's own proteins stops.

Protein quality is determined by:

  • digestibility coefficient - how many percent of amino acids are absorbed into the blood;
  • amino acid composition - a complete protein includes all the essential amino acids, and an incomplete protein is one that lacks some of the essential amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids Non-Essential Amino Acids Leucine Glycine Isoleucine Alanine Valine Cysteine ​​Threonine Glutamic Acid Methionine Aspartic Acid Phenylalanine Tyrosine Tryptophan Proline Lysine Serine Asparagine Glutamine Conditionally Essential Histidine Arginine

Animal protein is considered complete (for example, in meat - the full composition of amino acids), and vegetable - defective (to set the complete composition of amino acids from plant products, you need to combine several groups, for example, legumes with cereals), so plant-based nutritionists need to carefully plan their diet.

Animal protein sources Plant protein sources Meat, organ meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs Legumes, nuts, seeds, seaweed, soy products

The need for protein for a weight trainee is 1.5-2 g / kg of body weight. For example, for a girl weighing 55 kg - 82.5–110 g.


Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. In addition, they are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles to provide energy when there is not enough glucose in the bloodstream. When this pool is depleted, the body begins to synthesize glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, such as proteins, and also use fats for energy production. And if in the case of fats this is only at hand, then with the destruction of proteins, the opposite is true. Therefore, it is important to provide the body with high-quality complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested and constantly feed the body with glucose.

Conventionally, the group of carbohydrates is divided into simple and complex. The advantage of complex carbohydrates is that they are digested more slowly, gradually raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Using them, a person does not experience outbreaks of hunger, is constantly alert and full of energy. For a person training for weight gain, this is the key to effective training! Simple carbohydrates contain "empty calories", are quickly absorbed and provoke hunger an hour after consumption. This is due to a sharp increase in insulin in the blood, and then a sharp drop.

Carbohydrates in a full-fledged diet should consist of 80% complex (cereals, legumes) and 20% simple (a portion of fruit, for example). The need for carbohydrates in a trainee for weight gain is 5-7 g / kg of body weight. More is possible depending on the intensity and volume of training.

Complex carbohydrates Simple carbohydrates Whole grains (buckwheat, brown rice, oats), pseudo-cereals (quinoa, amaranth), legumes (mung beans, lentils, chickpeas, beans), vegetables Flour products, sweets, fruits, dried fruits


Fats are the quality of cell membranes, which is very important when building muscle mass. In addition, fats serve as a substrate for hormones, and for an adequate metabolic response to training, fats in the diet should be sufficient. The need for a training person is 0.8–1.5 g per 1 kg of body weight.

Fats (lipids) are divided into saturated (animal fats, solid at room temperature, coconut oil) and unsaturated (liquid at room temperature, with a low melting point - vegetable oils, avocado, fish oil). The ideal ratio in the diet is 50/50.

Fatty acids are divided into essential fatty acids, which the body can synthesize on its own, and essential fatty acids, which must be obtained from food. The emphasis in nutrition should be on essentials, such as omega 3 and omega 6, in a ratio of 1:3.

Omega 3 sources Omega 6 sources Sea fish, shellfish, grass-fed beef, flaxseed and flaxseed oil Nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, avocados, chanterelles, sea buckthorn


The key to successful muscle growth is nutrition with a calorie surplus. If the body consumes less energy than it receives, the mass will increase. But it is necessary to properly balance nutrients in order to grow lean muscle mass with minimal fat gain.

The percentage of proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the diet for weight gain is selected individually, while there is a basic scheme that can be taken as a basis:


Micronutrients that promote muscle growth and where to find them

Trace element Effect Source B1 (thiamine) Promotes protein metabolism and carbohydrate utilization (because with weight gain, the amount of incoming food increases, the need for this vitamin increases) Nuts, buckwheat, beans, asparagus, barley and wheat sprouts, oatmeal, lentils, rosemary B2 (riboflavin) Involved in glucose metabolism and fatty acid oxidation, associated with protein metabolism Eggs, meat, dairy products, broccoli, cabbage B3 (niacin) Involved in energy production, and also causes vasodilation Liver, chicken breast, lean varieties fish, kidneys, tomatoes, carrots, sorrel, wild rose B6 (pyridoxine) Responsible for the formation of hemoglobin, which provides oxygen to the working muscles of the body Pepper, onion, pistachios, sunflower seeds, garlic,fish B7 (biotin) Responsible for the metabolism of amino acids and energy production from a variety of sources Tomatoes, spinach, liver, almonds, brown rice, mushrooms, green peas B12 (cobalamin) Normalizes protein and fat metabolism, has a neurotrophic effect, prevents apoptosis (the process of cell death ) Salmon, oysters, liver, turkey, oyster mushrooms, nori, red meat Vitamin C Enhances recovery and muscle growth, participates in the formation of collagen, reduces the risk of injury, helps in the formation and release of steroid hormones Citrus, cruciferous, pepper, kiwi, berries, rose hips, parsley Vitamin A It is important in protein synthesis, that is, it is directly responsible for muscle growth Butter, liver, carrots, pumpkin, red meat Vitamin D Needed for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus,which is necessary for quality muscle contractions Oily sea fish, grass-fed beef, shrimp, eggs of farm chickens Vitamin E Antioxidant, takes part in the protection of cell membranes, promotes the growth of muscle cells, directly dependent on the health of cell membranes Nuts, wheat germ, avocados, oily fish

Athlete's Grocery Cart - Shopping List

Eating doesn't start at the table, it starts on the store shelf. If you make the wrong purchases, then there will be nothing to cook the right dishes. Let's analyze the main positions that should be in the basket of each athlete.

  • Cereals and legumes - buckwheat, rice, oats, millet, quinoa, amaranth, peas, beans, lentils, mung beans, chickpeas.
  • Meat/Fish/Poultry - lean beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, veal, turkey, chicken, white and red fish, seafood.
  • Eggs of chicken and quail, separately proteins.
  • Vegetables and greens - for every taste.
  • Nuts and seeds are better in vacuum packages, without small debris and mold.
  • Fruits and berries - fresh and frozen.
  • Oils - unrefined vegetable, butter and melted butter, coconut, cocoa butter.

Healthy sweets are dried fruits, sugar-free marshmallows, dark chocolate, urbechi, nut pastes.

Dairy and sour-milk products (subject to lactose tolerance and the absence of diseases in which it is contraindicated) - cottage cheese, kefir, fermented baked milk, milk, yogurt. It is better to choose foods with a fat content of 2-5%, since low-fat foods are not useful and often contain hidden carbohydrates, while too fatty foods serve as a source of saturated fat.

Sports Supplements – Necessary or Optional Supplement?


Of course, sports nutrition for gaining muscle mass in the form of supplements cannot be the basis of the diet. That is why they are called additives. They should be included in a complete diet only as needed.

With a good metabolism and constant training, the body needs a lot of certain substances: proteins, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids. But these substances in their natural form do not exist separately, but go in conjunction with others, the excess of which is undesirable. Sports supplements are just concentrated substances: proteins (protein, casein, amino acids), fatty acids (omega 3), vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, lymphotonics, stimulants.

Until now, many consider sports nutrition for muscle growth to be “chemistry” that only brings harm. But in fact, these are safe substances, laboratory purified and concentrated. It is only important to observe the dosages, monitor the quality of supplements and take into account contraindications.

Classification of sports supplements, recommendations for admission

Type Product Characteristics and effect Recommendations for intake Proteins Protein is one of the most famous means for muscle growth, a “fast” protein, purified from carbohydrates and fats. Proteins + carbohydrates Whey - quickly absorbed, does not contain excess carbohydrates and fats. Vegetable (soy, hemp, pea) - suitable for vegetarians, but is absorbed worse and does not have a complete amino acid composition. Egg protein - has the best amino acid composition. Casein is a complex protein that nourishes muscles for up to 6 hours after ingestion. Gainer - contains a large number of calories, easily creates a calorie surplus, promotes rapid muscle growth. Protein is recommended to be taken after training to quickly replenish the amino acid pool of the blood. Casein can be consumed alone due to its ability to saturate for a long time. Consume after training BCAA amino acids - leucine, isoleucine, valine (the optimal ratio for muscle gain is 4:1:1) Methionine Citrulline Beta-alanine Arginine Creatine monohydrate Glutamine These amino acids are essential, therefore, must be supplied with food; stimulate the growth of skeletal muscles. It has an anabolic, regenerating, hepatoprotective effect, stimulates protein synthesis and metabolic processes. Participates in the excretion of urea and other products of nitrogen metabolism, in the synthesis of ATP, improves muscle recovery. participates in the synthesis of buffer systems, prevents acidification during training, increases the effectiveness of training. Improves muscle nutrition by increasing the production of nitric oxide, growth hormone, insulin. A popular supplement in men, increases strength, endurance, performance, muscle mass. Reduces oxidative stress supports the immune system, improves the regeneration of intestinal cells Take before and / or after training. Take one hour before meals. Take one hour before meals as it is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Take before training, can be combined with arginine, creatine, caffeine. Take before training. Consume with carbohydrates (juice) after training and on non-training days between meals. Take at bedtime Stimulants Caffeine Green tea extract Pre-workout Stimulates the nervous system, lipolysis; increases the sensitivity of the respiratory center. It has a tonic effect, reduces lipid peroxidation, contains adrenergic substances - polyphenols. Contain components such as: caffeine, taurine, beta-alanine, arginine,


Healthy muscle mass is important for both men and women. And in order to build and maintain it, you need to eat well, as well as use sports nutrition if necessary. These jars will not replace food, but will help balance the intake of substances necessary for muscle growth in the right amount.


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