Diet For Building Lean Muscle – The Easiest and Most Effective Lifelong Approach

Having a proper nutrition plan is one of the foremost things that matter when an individual’s goal is to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass. The fact is that what you put in your body determines not only how you look but how you feel and how healthy you are that all comes down to your diet.

A lot of people underestimate the power of nutrition and at some point in time when they get tired of looking a certain way or feel lacking energy even doing small, mundane tasks, they finally realize that something needs to be done about their nutrition.

You know how important your nutrition is if you are one of those people who have followed one in the past knowing all about the ‘diet’ from the latest trends on social media and failing to see results.

I can understand how you feel as I have been in your shoes, focusing my efforts outside the gym towards trying to get my nutrition right so my diet can help me get closer to my muscle-building goals.

Healthy food, Flexible dieting

The importance of a proper diet in your fitness journey is significant as it either works for you or it works against you. It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into your workout to build a muscular body, it will all be laid to waste if you are not getting things right in the kitchen.

The dieting plan that I share below has given me consistent results and supported all my hard work in the gym, making me stronger and leaner in the process.

In this post, we are going to discuss the easiest and most effective dieting approach in the world for building lean muscle that has been backed by numerous studies and scientific researches proving that it works.

Flexible Dieting: Not a ‘Diet’ but a Lifestyle

man and woman preparing food in the kitchen

Flexible dieting is a way of eating that allows individuals to eat any choice of foods that they desire as long as the foods they eat, fit within their macronutrient goals. This type of dieting is also known as ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ or ‘IIFYM’.

This eating plan doesn’t restrict any foods or claim them to be bad so you have the freedom to eat anything you want and anything you like while losing weight or gaining muscle at the same time. This sounds like a symphony to anyone who has failed by following fad diets and knows how hard it is to get the results you want by the way of controlling the foods you eat every day.

The most dangerous diet in the world is the one that cannot stick to. So, STOP following any fad diets that only give you temporary and short-term results.

Once you get to know more about flexible dieting and make your own flexible dieting nutrition plan, you will fall in love with this way of nutrition that will ultimately become a part of your lifestyle. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules, not starve or deny yourself from the foods that you want to eat.

An effective eating approach is the one that you can follow each and every day, one that you look forward to as you choose between the foods you love to eat and one that you can easily stick to for a lifetime which makes it all worthwhile.

To build lean muscle mass and to transform your body, you need to first develop a positive and healthy relationship with food that starts with having the right diet plan.

Flexible Dieting Principles for Muscle Gain

Muscular man smiling and flexing his bicep muscles
Build Muscle, Lose Fat and Stay Lifelong Healthy with Flexible Dieting (created by drobotdean)

Flexible dieting is a whole new approach to eating that makes losing fat, building muscle, and staying healthy easier than ever before. It involves tracking the macronutrients in your diet to achieve the desired body composition.

So, how do you go about changing your nutrition and following a flexible dieting plan that works for gaining muscle?

By applying the flexible dieting principles and turning them into an eating regimen that you enjoy, every day for the rest of your life!

Let’s now talk about these principles and take a close look at them below.

How Much You Eat Is More Important Than What You Eat

Each time you sit down to eat a meal, your body uses all energy from the foods you eat in the form of calories. At the end of the day whether you lose/gain fat or gain muscle depends upon how much of the foods you’ve eaten with all the calories inside those foods adding up to put your body in either an energy surplus or energy deficit.

This is where the concept of calorie counting and tracking comes into the picture which helps one take control of the macronutrients in everything one eats (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) to achieve muscle gain or fat loss through diet. For building lean muscle mass with minimum fat gain, you need to maintain a slight calorie surplus. On the other hand, for losing body fat and getting leaner, you need to maintain a daily calorie deficit. Whatever your goals with your body, tracking calories is an easy way of achieving these goals through nutrition.

This can be done by knowing the calories inside the foods you eat every time through CalorieKing or MyFitnessPal app. And then manipulating those calories so at the end of the day they finally add up putting you in a positive energy balance or calorie surplus for muscle gain.

We will discuss more about how many calories to eat along with the ratio of macronutrients in the next topic for creating your custom flexible diet plan for gaining muscle.

The majority or at least 80 percent of your calories should come from nutritious and unprocessed foods. For the remaining calories, you have the liberty to add your favorite foods that you enjoy eating while hitting your daily calorie goals.

The reason behind adding more nutritious foods to your dieting plan is that they are rich in micronutrients and fibers ensuring that you do not develop any nutritional deficiencies leading to any health problems. Therefore, it is best to have a diet rich in whole foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables when you’re combining them with your favorite snacks, desserts, or drinks.

You Should Eat The Foods You Enjoy Eating

A delicious meal set on the tabel consisting of fruits, pancakes, juice, tea and eggs

Forget all about the things you have heard about the ‘popular’ diets that tell you to deprive yourself of certain foods and label them as bad for your goals. This is a major reason why people struggle to stick to these diets for the long term as they are made to eat the foods they don’t enjoy eating.

Flexible dieting gives you the freedom to make your daily food choices based on your preferences and based on what you enjoy eating every day for the rest of your life. What other diets that you know of allows you do to that? I guess, the answer is none.

This principle alone is such a blessing for so many people when they learn that they can eat all the foods that they like eating and never quite feel like they are on a diet. This makes flexible dieting more of a unique way of eating or a lifetime nutrition plan that people find so easy to stick to for the long term.

The best diet plan for you is the one that you can follow consistently while staying healthy, energetic, and performing your best.

Eating On A Schedule That Works For You

Muscular man preparing to eat healthy meals postworkout

It’s entirely up to you as to how you plan your meals throughout the day or how many meals you want to eat during the day. There is no strict schedule or criteria like you can only eat three meals a day, unlike other diets.

It is however important that the total number of meals you eat are within your calorie and macronutrient goals for the day.

For our goal of building lean muscle, it will greatly benefit you if you focus on your meal timing for pre-workout and postworkout nutrition which will allow you to push harder and recover faster from your heavy workouts.

This means, for effective pre-workout nutrition, eating some form of protein and carbohydrate about 30 minutes before a workout, and for postworkout nutrition, eating protein causes more muscle protein synthesis necessary for gaining lean muscle.

If for some reason you are unable to do that, don’t worry, it’s completely fine. As long as you have got your daily calories and macros right, when you eat isn’t going to matter so much for your results.

Don’t Get Obsessive About Measuring and Tracking Foods

Group of females tracking calories on the phone

While it is a fact that the flexible dieting nutritional approach involves tracking your daily calories and macronutrients based on your goals, it can easily lead to obsessive behavior or eating disorders in some people.

This is why flexible dieters need to have a basic understanding of nutrition so they can make healthy food choices and keep unhealthy treats to a minimum. In any case, flexible dieting is not a license to indulge in junk foods or taking in a majority of your calories from cakes, cookies, pizza, burgers, doughnuts.

Flexible dieting is a disciplined method of eating that teaches people how to modify macronutrient intake to reach personalized physique, fitness, and health goals.

The goal of incorporating flexible dieting is to empower individuals in their fitness journey to gain control over their goals by utilizing a knowledge base of nutrients and how the body responds to them.

For the best probability of success with this flexible way of eating, you should meet your daily calorie, macros, and nutrient goals by eating whole, mostly unprocessed foods that are easy to measure and track as compared to food in the restaurants, food stalls, or your favorite indulging place where you can easily lose track of how much you’re eating as these venues often understate the calories in their foods.

The key is balance. Eat a lot more nutritious foods than non-nutritious foods and you’ve got it right.

Creating your Flexible Dieting Plan for Building Muscle

Nutritious meal of steak and vegetables

The IIFYM nutritional concept is the most beneficial and superior approach to gaining lean muscle mass in the fitness industry. This simple approach involves tracking your daily calories and macronutrients.

To know about the number of calories you need to eat for building muscle, the first thing we need to determine is your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE with the goal of consuming about 10-15% more calories than your TDEE number to achieve muscle gain.

A male with a body fat percentage of ten percent or lower can aim for the higher end of a calorie surplus and a male with a body fat percentage of higher than ten percent can aim for the lower end of increasing the surplus to minimize additional fat gain.

For men who are at a body fat level of fifteen percent or higher, the best approach is to eat at a calorie deficit to get rid of unwanted fat and get down to a body fat level of 8 to 10 percent before you start lean bulking.

To illustrate, the exact plan I follow when I need to put on lean muscle for my 192-pound frame with a moderate exercise activity level per week, the best estimate of my TDEE or maintenance calories is 2,924 calories per day. So, for lean bulking, I will either increase my TDEE by 10% or 15% depending on my body fat levels. This means, my lean bulking calories per day comes out to 3,216 calories per day (110% of my TDEE of 2,924).

This slight calorie surplus allows you to maximize lean muscle gains efficiently while keeping fat gain at a minimum and adjusting for any inconsistencies in calorie tracking.

For people new to weightlifting, the calorie surplus requirements are different from intermediate or experienced weightlifters because for the ‘newbies’ their bodies are hyper-responsive to training at the beginning that allows them to gain muscle at an incredibly faster rate for the first few months or so as compared to the more advanced lifters whose ability to gain muscle slows down with time.

Keeping this in mind, you can adjust your calorie surplus percentage depending on your training experience.

Next, the best approach for macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) ratio for lean bulking is as follows:

  • 40-60% Carbohydrate
  • 25-35% Protein
  • 15-25% Fat

A gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. A gram of protein also contains 4 calories. A gram of fat, though, contains 9 calories — more than twice the amount of the other two.

Now, to distribute these calories using the macronutrient ratios suggested above, my carbs, protein, and fat intake for my daily lean bulking calories of 3,216 will look like this:

  • Protein = 25% of 3,216 calories or 804 calories or 200 grams of protein (804 divided by 4)
  • Carbs = 55% of 3,216 calories or 1,770 calories or 440 grams of carbs (1770 divided by 4)
  • Fat = 20% of 3,216 calories or 640 calories or 70 grams of fat (640 divided by 9)

After all calculations, my final daily calorie intake and macronutrients in my flexible dieting plan for gaining lean muscle will be as follows;

  • 3,216 total calories
  • 200 grams of protein
  • 440 grams of carbs
  • 70 grams of fat

With these numbers ready, I now have a goal and can easily manage the foods that I enjoy eating for the day and track all of them in an app like MyFitnessPal to know where I’m at and how much more I need to eat to get closer to these targets.

This may sound like a lot to keep in mind, but don’t get frustrated. You’re building a healthier lifestyle here with a nutrition plan of your liking for building your best body ever, not just doing math.

If you find doing all these calculations too complicated, then you can always use an online calorie calculator or use the inside MyFitnessPal app on your phone to set your daily nutrition, macros, and calorie goals based on your age, gender, height, weight, and weekly activity levels.

While eating at a calorie deficit and targeting weight loss through your diet, if preparing healthy, nutritious food in the kitchen every day seems like a difficult task for you in your busy life, then you can join a diet delivery program especially made for men like Bistro MD which is a leading diet delivery brand in the U.S. that is focused on the health and well-being of their customers and the ONLY one founded by a practicing weight-loss physician.

BistroMD offers the highest quality home delivery meals in the industry made using ingredients that are just as important as the science behind the program. If you’re looking for the ease of a lifestyle change, the convenience of meals without hours of prep work, and the outstanding taste and quality of meals, then BistroMD can be a life-changing program for you. Choose which plan is right for you!

Flexible Dieting In a Nutshell

Burger with fries and tomatoes

Today, you have learned a new approach to nutrition where you eat foods you enjoy eating all day long, nutritious foods, foods that don’t restrict your progress or make you feel guilty, and they are all a part of a structured and science-based method of eating that involves tracking calories through monitoring the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

For those of us who tend to be too restrictive or strict with our diets, flexible dieting is a great way to eat foods that we might not otherwise eat or allow us to enjoy social gatherings where food is involved that we might not otherwise consume. For others of us, being flexible can be an excuse to fit too many nutrient-poor foods in our diet.

As always, moderation is key, and flexible dieting is as healthy as you make it to be. There are also other ways to do it or other diets out there that you can follow but there’s only one you can turn into a lifelong style of eating.

When it comes to visualizing your fit self into the future and remaining fit for your lifetime, your devotion to stick to a nutrition plan that works best for you is the only thing that will get you there.

Working with this new nutritional concept like flexible dieting will take time, and as you start noticing the amazing results, you will create a long-lasting positive and healthy relationship with food. And with determination, resolve, and a willingness to change, you’ll keep progressing towards your end goal.

I hope and wish that the information I shared will be helpful to you in progressing in your fitness journey. If you enjoyed this post, please leave your experiences and comments below.

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