How to Build Muscle Mass

One of the common misconceptions with increasing muscle mass is that to build muscle, you need to eat lots of protein. It’s true that you will need to consume more protein then the average person, but this is in part because you need more calories overall.  As important as protein is, if you don’t have the correct distribution of protein, fat and carbohydrates, you will be inefficient in your production of lean muscle tissue. Basically you will have the building blocks for muscle but no one to assemble it.

7 tips to help build muscle:

Put the work in:  This is obvious, but when building muscle it is important to do weight bearing activity!


Fuel your body frequently with high quality food: Treat your body like a high efficient machine. Put clean whole-foods in every 2-3 hours. Try 3 square meals per day, with 2-3 well balanced snacks in between.


Balance your meals: include ~20-30g of protein at each meal, with some complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quiona, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruits – the more colorful the better!) and some healthy fats (avocado, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts/seeds and their butters).


Include vegetables and fruit!  Many people often forget that vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates. They play a vital role in muscle production. They provide antioxidants to help with workout recovery and rebuilding muscle.

A good rule is to have fruit at breakfast and snacks, and have a minimum of 2 cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner


Have some dairy before bed: If you can tolerate dairy, I recommend having some cottage cheese or 0-2% MF Greek Yogurt prior to bed with some fruit. Greek Yogurt and cottage cheese have a higher percent of casein vs whey protein. Casein protein digests slower in the body which is key to supporting muscle tissue growth and repair throughout the night.


Post exercise nutrition: Make sure you are consuming the appropriate post exercise nutrition to support your muscle gain. For tips, stay tuned to next month when we discuss how to maximize your post exercise nutrition.


Get your ZZZZZZ: Sleep is vital for building muscle. If you are going to put in the effort in the gym, you need to give your body time to recover from exercise. While 7-8 hours is recommended for the general population, I find most of the athletes I work with benefit from 8-10hours depending on training volume and which training phase you are in.


By Kelsey Hagen – Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist