Tag Archives: nutrition

How Many Carbs Should I Eat To Gain Muscle or Lose Fat?

build muscle lose fat womenDepending on your current body fat percentage, 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight on training days is a good place to start. Some recommend big time athletes to consume upwards of 4 grams per pound of bodyweight, but this would be far too much for a typical gym rat and strength seeker.

The point here is that all carb intake should be tailored to your training volume.

Some athletes can afford those 4 grams because they train for a living (sometimes multiple times a day), whereas the working man and gym rat has no business going anywhere near those amounts.

These guidelines below are meant for gaining muscle mass while minimizing the fat gain you would get by eating carbs indiscriminately.  If you want to get massive at all costs, then eat whatever the hell you want.

  • If you are already lean (less than 11% bodyfat) and are trying to put on size, training 4 days a week with a moderately high volume and getting your hill sprint sessions in, you could build a good amount of muscle from consuming 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight a day.
  • If you are between 11-15% bodyfat, 1.25 – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight would be your starting point.
  • For each of the above, if you aren’t gaining mass or can stay lean while eating more carbs, then have at it.
  • For each of the above, on non-training days, cut your carb intake by 50%.
  • Carrying more than 15% body fat and want to lean out?  Cut the carbs down to about .8 – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight and assess your progress.  If you aren’t cutting, scale back more, but this is a safe place to start. This will allow you to preserve muscle while losing fat.
  • If you are above 15% bodyfat and fat-loss is your main goal, you can significantly cut back your carbs to around 100 grams per day, consisting mostly of green veggies. Ideally, total carb consumption would come post-training.

There is a delicate balance to be had here.  Too few carbs and your body will not grow.  However, consuming too many carbs can make you fat, especially if you are not tailoring your carb intake to your workload.

build muscleTiming and cycling of your carbs is also very important.  The majority of your carbs should be consumed post workout and in the evening to replenish the glycogen stores you depleted during your workout.  Consume less carbs on your non-training days.  What carbs you do eat can be consumed later in the evening to prepare you for the next day.

Not sure what carbs to eat?  Here is a shopping list:

  1. Any kind of potatoe you can get your hands on (sweet, red, purple, russet)
  2. Lots of veggies and greens (broccoli, broccoli rabe, kale, spinach, arugala, cauliflower, squash, tomatoes, asparagus, green beans, colored peppers, swiss chard)
  3. Grains (brown rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice, basmati rice, quinoa)

Bottom line?

If you are trying to cut body fat, cut the carbs.  If you want to add mass, you may need to consume a few more potatoes.  Plain and simple.

Want to know the guidelines for protein intake?  Check them out here.


— Tank

How Much Protein Should I Eat To Build Muscle?

Any muscle building diet must be built around protein.

A general rule of thumb for building mass is about 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (not bodyweight). 

How to calculate lean body mass:  Simply take your body fat percentage and determine how much body fat in pounds you are carrying, and subtract that from your total body weight.  This number will be your lean muscle mass and a starting point for your protein intake.

Now I know you’ve read elsewhere that you need several grams per pound of actual bodyweight, but that just isn’t true.  There are countless numbers of studies out there that show excessive amounts of protein do not translate to more muscle growth.

Trust me.  You will spend far less time on the toilet, less time eating and preparing meals, and spend much less money on supplements if you stick to the 1 gram per pound of lean body mass rule.  Let this be your starting point and you can add more protein if desired, but just know that it isn’t absolutely necessary.

Low fat meats like chicken, turkey, and some cuts of beef and seafood should be your go to source of protein.  Supplement your meat intake with high protein foods like eggs and dairy products, nuts, and beans.  Aim to consume some sort of high quality protein with each meal, and your snacks if you can.

Make sure to consume some protein immediately following a workout.  This is a perfect time to down a protein shake to get fast digesting protein in your system.  My go-to recipe is 16 ounces of milk with 2 scoops of protein powder, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a scoop of waxy maize (simple carbs).

Just because you supplement doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying your best to get most of your protein from foods.  Food sources have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals, and are much better for you overall.  Supplements are a slippery slope, and if you make the time and commitment to eat right, you don’t need them.  A shake will never be a substitute for a t-bone steak…

To build muscle you must also have a healthy dose of carbs. Want the run down on carbs?  Check it out here!


— Tank