Many of you have likely heard of meal prepping before, especially if you have seen my other articles on this topic. In today’s article, I will be looking at the meal prepping concept from a more specific angle, meal prep for muscle gain! I will be breaking this article down into the 3 main concepts you need to be thinking about when prepping your meals with gaining muscle in mind!
- Calories Included
- Macros Included
- Food Quality
When looking to gain muscle we must ensure we are taking in enough calories. The goal with a purely muscle gain approach (not simultaneous fat loss), is to increase our body weight, while putting on as little fat as possible. The way to do this is to eat in a caloric surplus. If you eat in too large of a caloric surplus, you will start to put on excess fat, which is not what we want.
With this in mind, you need to take into account how many meals you will be eating that are prepared daily, and think about what will be contained within those meals (calories wise). From there, you need to think about how many meals you need to prep, and how many calories will be in those meals that will allow you to consume enough total daily calories.
You want these calories to be high in protein, with quality food being important as well. The amount of other macronutrients you consume will depend on your personal circumstances and preferences (more to come on this later).
Now it is time to look at the macros you will be including, while calories are the focus, macros are quite important as well. This is especially true when talking about protein intake. Let’s talk about the things to consider when deciding how much of what to eat, and what foods, in particular, we should be eating.
First of all, let’s talk protein as that is the most important macro when trying to gain muscle. You want to be eating roughly 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight (a 200-pound individual would require 160 grams of protein). You can bump this up to 1 gram per pound of body weight for the sake of a more even number (and who doesn’t want a little extra protein, haha). This is assuming you are still able to take in the amount of calories required as protein is highly satiating.
Think about including foods such as lean ground beef (high in micro-nutrients), chicken (lean protein), fish (lean protein with essential fatty acids), and other forms of meat such as pork, turkey and other lean meats. These are foods that are high in complete proteins, are lean or somewhat lean and some have high amounts of micro-nutrients.
As far as our carbohydrate and fat intake goes, it will split up our remaining calories in a certain ratio. Consider eating 3-7 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. The exact amount will depend on your circumstances and preferences. Allow the remaining calories to come from fats. The emphasis should be on carbohydrates as they contribute to our bodies primary energy system, which is ATP energy. This is beneficial as it highly contributes to our workouts and the greater performance we can get from our training, the greater stimulus for growth and strength improvements we can see.
Some good carb sources would include rice, potatoes and pasta, while some quality sources of fat would be things like avocados, nuts (such as almonds and pistachios) and oils such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
While we do need to hit our calories, protein intake and get close to our other macronutrients, it would be a very wise decision to eat quality foods. This because it will provide better fuel, and make you feel better when eating higher amounts of micro-nutrients.
Anyone can meal prep a bag that contains Kraft dinner, hot dogs and Twinkies. However, you likely won’t be running very good off that, and it will set you up for failure down the road.
Putting an emphasis on whole food sources that are high in micro-nutrients and of course allow you to hit your calories, protein intake and other macronutrients should be the focus. This does not mean you shall strictly eat vegan, organic, non-GMO foods. I personally think there is far too much hype on the health benefits of these foods, especially when buzzwords are constantly being thrown around. Regardless, that is a story for another article!
The Gist on Meal Prep For Muscle Gain:
When thinking about meal prepping for muscle gain, make sure your meals allow you to hit your calories, while taking in adequate amounts of protein and eating enough carbohydrates and fat to fit your needs. Do your best to obtain these calories and macros from quality sources by putting an emphasis on whole food sources.
I am excited for this article to be of help in your fitness and muscle gain journey, and I thank you for taking the time to read this article! As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.