The ultimate muscle building meal plan

4 min read

Nutrition is the key to your physique goals. Whether you wish to lose weight, build muscle or just maintain your fine tuned body, you need to have a goal-specific meal plan to get the best results.

However, sometimes sorting out your own meal plan can be a little bit of a bore, especially if you haven’t a clue where to start!

That’s why we’ve created this Building Muscle Template to help you achieve your muscle bound potential, along with general guidelines to help you eat the right amount of calories, carbs, protein and fat you should be consuming each day. But if you don't have time to prep your food yourself, we offer a muscle building meal plan service.

Table of contents:

Muscle Building Meal Plan

First Things First… Your Kitchen

You need to stock that bad boy up with plenty of nutritious wholefoods, which can be used to transform your meals from drab to fab, and to prevent snacking on unhealthy foods that could derail your diet. Here’s an example grocery list:

  • Starches: Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes, Brown Rice, Whole-wheat Pasta
  • Protein: Chicken Breast Fillets, Protein Powders, Whole Eggs, Liquid Egg Whites, Fish, Greek yoghurt
  • Fruit & Veg: Berries, Bananas, Tropical Fruits, Lots of Green Veg, Beans & Legumes, Avocado
  • Oils: Use sparingly, Teaspoons over Tablespoons – Coconut Oil, Olive Oil
  • Snacks: Nuts & Seeds

Top 5 nutrition tips

  1. Eat sufficient protein, regularly

    Regular intake of protein is ideal to maximise muscle protein synthesis (MPS), whilst minimising muscle protein breakdown (MPB) and give you the best chance of building maximal muscle.

    Aim for a 0.3-0.5g/kg protein per serving for the best chance of maximising MPS.

  2. Stay hydrated

    Aim to drink enough to maintain clear urine through the day, this will help cognitive function and performance both in the gym and in daily life.

  3. Build a routine that you enjoy and can stick to

    Working out your calories and macros (explained below) is great, but only useful if you can actually hit those targets, and you understand how to adjust your diet to suit your lifestyle.

  4. Eat in a slight calorie surplus

    To provide the best chance of building maximal muscle, a slight calorie surplus (200-300 Cal/day) will be beneficial.

  5. Consider supplements

    Whey protein; not an essential dietary addition, but an easy, cost effective way of increasing your high quality protein intake.

    Creatine Monohydrate; it has been well researched and definitely beneficial for improving strength and training performance.

    Caffeine – another well-researched supplement shown to improve performance (aim for 3-5mg/kg 40mins before exercise if you want to see how it affects your training).

How to build muscle

Building muscle requires four things:

•    Progressive overload

•    Mechanical tension

•    Metabolic stress

•    Muscle damage

These are all created from training well. Where nutrition and supplementation comes in, is optimising recovery and the ability of the muscles to respond to these stimuli provided from training, to enhance adaptation to repeated bouts of progressive training over time.

The Importance of Macronutrients

There are 3 main macronutrients (4 if you count alcohol – which is important to consider towards your calorie count if you drink).  

  1. Protein - essential for muscle repair and growth, can also provide a source of energy if needed (4Cal/g)

  2. Fat - essential for cell membranes, hormone production and energy source (9Cal/g)

  3. Carbs - the bodies preferred energy source (4Cal/g)

Including sufficient protein in your diet is essential if your goal is muscle gain, as this forms the primary building blocks for laying down more muscle tissue.

Fats come next, as they are an essential component of hormone production, if we are insufficient here, sex steroids such as testosterone will decrease, and inhibit our muscle building potential.

Carbs provide the last piece of the puzzle, although non-essential, they are the easiest for the body to convert into glucose and energy, including carbs in the diet will help performance, especially higher intensity exercise.

We can calculate our calories and macronutrient demands relatively easily, and from there, design a diet that will help you to maximise your muscle gain.

Example Meal Plan

As mentioned above, the meal plan you decide to use has to be specific to your lifestyle, and what is achievable for you to maintain.

This will therefore mean that a prescriptive plan won’t work for everyone. In the below example, I haven’t put in specific foods, but rather a breakdown of calories that you can put towards foods of your choice that fit, you could also choose to eat more frequently, or to alter the macronutrient profiles of the meals should you choose without any negative effects.

Below, I’ve given an example plan for an 80kg male with a desk job, who trains for 5 x 60 minutes sessions weekly, looking to gain muscle.

Calorie aim/ day = 2,592 Cals

Protein @2g/kg = 160g (640Cal)

Fat @1g/kg = 80g (720Cal)

Carbs = 308g Carbs (1232 Cal)

Shopping List

Chicken 2.5kg
Whey Protien Powder
Extra Lean Beef Mince

Key takeaways

  1. Planning your meals in advance will help give you structure so that you stick to your plan
  2. Start by working out your maintenance calories (or TDEE) by calculating your BMR multiplied by your daily activity level
  3. To build muscle, aim for a surplus of 200-400 calories per day - you are likely to gain a little bit of fat but you'll be maximising muscle growth
  4. Protein should be consumed regularly. Try to hit 2g per kg of body weight per day to ensure you have the best chance of building maximal lean muscle
  5. Fat intake should be 20-30% of your daily calorie allowance (around 1g fat per kg of body weight is a good estimate)
  6. The remaining calories will be allocated to carbs

There are no shortcuts to building muscle but by following these simple steps and sticking closely to your target macronutrients, you can eat the foods you love and be well on your way to building your dream body!

If you have any questions or would like more detail about anything mentioned in this article, drop me a comment below.


James Lee

James Lee

An MNU Certified Nutritionist, qualified Pharmacist and PT working with a diverse range of clients from athletes to general population. James is passionate about improving the health of the nation.