The 10 Commandments of Muscle Building Nutrition!

Max Riley
Written By: Max Riley
February 23rd, 2006
Updated: March 22nd, 2021
Categories: Articles Nutrition
539.8K Reads
The 10 Commandments of Muscle Building Nutrition!
10 rules you should be following if you're serious about muscle building. If you're not following the 10 commandments you are limiting your growth potential.

Muscle building nutrition is not rocket science; it just requires some basic knowledge, discipline and consistency. You need to eat a good healthy diet every day to get the results you desire. Nutrition is often overlooked by some weight trainers, but the fact is, if you don't have a good muscle building diet you are really limiting the results you get from your training. So Muscle & Strength have put together the 10 commandments of muscle building nutrition. These are 10 rules you should follow when trying to build muscle and gain weight.

10 Rules to Build Muscle

1. Eat At Least 6 Quality Small Meals Per Day

Eating more meals per day increases the body's metabolism, gives you a constant flow of energy and reduces the likelihood of your body storing your food as fat. You need to shift away from the "3 meals a day" mentality - those days are over. You should only feed your body with what it requires, not how much can fit in your stomach.

2. Eat Protein and Complex Carbohydrates in Every Meal

You don't have to eat alot, but try to get about 30 grams or protein and some quality carbs in each meal. Carbs are easy as they are found in bread, rice, potatoes etc. Stick to whole grains, oats, brown rice and wholemeal bread for good carbs. Good sources of protein are chicken, egg whites, tuna, red meat and fish.

3. Use Supplements

Bodybuilding supplements are a great way to get nutrients to the body fast. At a minimum I suggest you use whey protein supplements. Depending on your goals and level of training, creatine and glutamine should also be considered. Best times to consume supplements are first thing in the morning, before/after training and before bed.

4. Avoid Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are the "sugary" carbohydrates found in sugar, soft drinks and honey. Simple carbohydrates give you an instant pick-me-up but they will drop you right back where you came from after a few minutes. Excessive sugar plays havoc with our insulin metabolism and leads to fatigue and fat storage. Stay away!

5. Stay Away from Fats and Excessive Salts

Some fat is essential for a healthy diet. Good fat is found in olive oil, peanut butter and fish. Bad fat is vegetable oil, animal fats and butter. This pretty much rules out all junk food and fizzy drinks.

6. Fuel Up Before Your Workout

Eat a small meal that contains a good portion or complex carbohydrates and protein about 30-60 minutes before your workout. The complex carbohydrates will give you the sustained energy to train long and hard. And the protein will assist your muscles during your workout as you break them down.

7. Prioritize Your After-Workout Meal/Shake

The after workout meal/shake is the most important nutrition boost your body needs. Directly after a workout your muscles are broken down and crying out for nutrients. A good dose of protein is a must (40-50 grams) and carbohydrates also play an important role because they are needed for an insulin spike which will release growth hormone. A supplement shake is the best method to deliver these nutrients to your body followed by a good post workout meal within 60 minutes of training.

8. Drink Water, and Lots of It!

The most important nutrient in your body is water. The quality of your tissues, their performance and their resistance to injury is dependent on the amount of the water you drink. Sip water constantly throughout the day and make sure you get more than enough water during your workout.

9. Avoid Snacking by Planning Your Diet

Let's face it, most snack foods you're going to be tempted with are going to be unhealthy and full of sugar, salt and other unnatural ingredients. If you plan each meal for the day during the previous day you will find that you will not feel like snacking as you will always feel satisfied.

10. Eat More Calories Than You Burn

At the end of the day, if you want to gain weight and pack on muscle you need to eat more calories than your burn throughout the day. If you don't eat enough calories you will not grow any muscle. Never stay hungry. As soon as you begin to feel hungry eat a good meal of carbs and protein. Also get a good serve of carbs and protein before bed, you body will need it for repairing muscle tissue while your sleep.

Posted on: Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:14

As I website possessor I believe the subject matter here is really great, regards for your

Posted on: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 09:51

I know you guys probably won't post my long comment I just made because I kinda bashed supplements in it, but rest assured that the supps I use, and there are still 4 or 5 that I do, I am a faithful customer of muscle and I hope you all will post my opinion on the article, as it may help other people who have dealt with the same things I have in weight training. Thank you.

Posted on: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 09:46

This article is riddled with bad nutritional advice. To say to eat carbs with every meal, for most people, is a sure fire way to put on unwanted body fat. Say what you want, but carbs ARE the enemy, mainly because they spike insulin, and high insulin brings metabolism to screeching halt. The only time you really need carbs, and I mean fast carbs like dextrose, are with your post workout shake, because the insulin spike is necessary to aid in recovery and absorption. But complex carbs, to a slightly lesser extent still cause insulin spikes, so cutting off carbs early in the day will bring insulin levels down so your metabolism can work in the evening and while you sleep. Secondly, fats are good as long as they aren't consumed within a couple hours before or after your workout due to the fact that they SLOW absorption. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats as long as the ingredients are peanuts and salt, no added oils or sugars. And butter is a good source for healthy fats, despite what this article or any other nutritional article tells you. Fats are necessary in a male's diet because they help naturally boost/regulate testosterone levels. Thirdly, supplements are not the be all end all of muscle gain/fat loss. They are exactly what they're called... supplements. If you have a good nutrition plan, then a lil extra of something may help you. But in my experience, most supps on the market today are garbage. Google some of em and you can find the real studies on em, not just studies that the companies have paid for people to test. I'm an ectomorph, hard gainer, however you want to put it, and I can promise you that most supplements are full of empty promises. What builds muscle is a good balance of fatty and lean proteins, healthy fats, and a little bit of carbs, all at the right times. I hope this long comment helps clear some things up for people who don't know what to make of everything.

Posted on: Sun, 10/05/2014 - 14:29

I've read so much conflicting evidence over the last many years of my strength training journey. This article seems to be giving the same misleading information. Please correct me if you think I'm wrong..

There have been countless examples in the body building world that show consuming 6 small meals a day is not necessary (it seems like a pain in the ass to me). As long as you are getting your proper caloric intake/ratio for the day, that's all the matters. For example, you could consume all the calories needed in one meal if you wanted.. Evidence even shows that intermittent fasting has plenty of benefits. So, consuming three meals in a day should work, as long as they are of sufficient size (double the size of your 6 meals...).

Also, I'm pretty sure the best fats you can consume are animals fats. Maybe not chicken fat, but range pork and grass-fed beef has excellent mono-unsaturated, omega 3, and saturated fats.

Also, eating right before a workout? Really? I have fasted for 16 hours and worked out on multiple occasions. While I may not be able to work out quite as long, I find I have a great amount of energy and motivation. Science shows that working out in a fasted state can actually cause an increase in release of natural growth hormone.

Eating before bed? Right after a workout? Gimme a break!!! I used to run for a shake as soon as possible after a workout. This is another misconception and a marketing ploy used by supplement companies. As long as you get the calories you need throughout the day at some point... that's all that matters!!

Please share your thoughts on this.

Posted on: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 09:59

I take back the michael marks comment, jesse is pretty much right on the money. Though I wouldn't suggest trying to cram all of your calories into one meal (pretty sure he's not either) for the most part he's correct. I agree with everything else he wrote, I've even tried working out after a few 10-12 hour fast myself over the past few months and seem to have better workouts than when I have eaten within a couple of hours before hand.

Posted on: Thu, 06/18/2015 - 01:42

The shake postworkout, for me is mostly for the recovery, so im not so sore.

Posted on: Fri, 03/11/2016 - 17:48

I fell into the supplement trap for a few months. I overused a 100% whey protein from" American Pure Whey". I lost 1/2 inch of my biceps in just 2 months. I wish I measured sooner. I don't have any idea what was in this product but it wasn't whey. These people are running a scam.

Posted on: Fri, 09/12/2014 - 14:03

Such outdated old school information...some is true some is rubbish.

Posted on: Tue, 03/18/2014 - 14:49

Hi I just started training. 39 yrs old 12.7 stone. I worked out I should eat approx 2700 calories a day normally but another 250 a day to gain muscle. Also get in 225 of protien. I have done this today but it felt like a hell of a lot of food to consume ( all good though, turkey mince, yogurt, eggs, protien shakes etc) does this sound like the correct amount or too much. Thanks

Posted on: Mon, 01/13/2014 - 17:18

if I use the whey protein before and after gym
when and in what quantities can i take arginina, to help increase musle mass?

Posted on: Tue, 12/31/2013 - 08:28


I usually burn 100 calories daily and have reduced smoking can u tell me how can i make my muscle grow better and gain mass as i feel tired within half an hour of workout.

Posted on: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 00:45

Wont go near protein shakes after a friend passed away because of them rots liver

Posted on: Sun, 10/20/2013 - 19:32

So I'm 20 5'9 190 my goal is to keep my 8 precent body fat but increase my mass and strength I use a weight gainer an creatine eat 5 meals a day an hit gym 3 days a week why do I barely see results

Posted on: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 06:34

Lift big, eat big, get big.

Posted on: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 21:38

nice might give it a go

Posted on: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 07:17

Hi guys,

I started gyming 5 weeks ago. I using a protein shake as recommended but i can only manage to consume 3 to four small meals a day as i don't have any appetite . What can to get a better appetite or can i buy something to give me appetite. I live in cape town , South African

Thanks Alex

Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2013 - 19:12

Hello new to the diet scene im trying to start eating clean can anyone give me a base set to go off of as far as foods to use i have chicken,tuna,broc,almonds,sweet potatoe,blackberries and blue berries and spinich

Posted on: Tue, 03/19/2013 - 18:28

I'm not a body builder, but I am very interested in the body builders diet because they are in such great shape. I also want learn how to get and maintain a nice waistline and lose at least 8-10 pounds. I've been reading this site and I find it to be very educational. Thank you! I will continue to read the articles for advice in the near future.

Posted on: Mon, 03/18/2013 - 03:53

what a great article. Thanks, I love it.
My Question is will I av to mix supplements or just hav one to achive result, and if I have to mix what and and what supplements Will I need to mix. Plz help.

Posted on: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 21:01

hey steve
i'm a freshman in high school i need to get a bigger chest and gain muscle for football and wreslting over this spring and summer. i'm not worryed on the weight just the muscle. but i could have a dommient year in wreslting if i can get bigger so what type of workout or diet do you think i should do?

Posted on: Tue, 03/05/2013 - 07:30

Very good article. Now I am ready to change my food chart :)

Posted on: Sun, 02/24/2013 - 18:19

Hey, I'm a swimmer and water polo player, but I'm a twig. I'm 5'10" and only 128 lbs. I need to gain weight and muscle for next polo season, but at the same time i don't want to lose speed in the water. Are there any specifics that might aide me in that goal? I'd really appreciate any help I can get!

Michael Mack
Posted on: Tue, 02/19/2013 - 12:47

Hate to sound negative here, but all you guys sound like your just wanting your egos rubbed, I mean " I'm 6'7 and people say I'm looking bigger and stuff" Bla Bla. I'm 5'11 I weigh 15 stone 7. Eat as much junk as I want, KFC,pizza,McDonald's as well as healthier foods. I would say as long as you work out regular you eat what you want, unless you are planning on making a career in sports/fitness and then count every carb & protein under the sun, the key to getting results is eat what you want within reason when you want, train hard in the gym, put in the effort and after a few months once you've gained core strength and shape then think about protein shakes and stuff.

Posted on: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 09:48

So far michael mack's comment makes the most sense out of all of this.

Posted on: Mon, 02/11/2013 - 19:36


I would like some advice on what nutrition I should follow. I'm vegetarian but I do eat eggs and drink milk. I would like to know if drinking milk helps with the process of building muscle or should I just stick with eggs. What other tips would you recommend me? Like is a Whey protein necessary for me?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/14/2013 - 12:45

Milk is great if you can stomach it! Whey is definitely not necessary but it can be very helpful in reaching your protein requirements.

Posted on: Sat, 02/09/2013 - 17:35

Hi, im 18, height 5'11 and weigh 11st 3 - 153lbs. Ive been weight training for about 9months now. when i started i weighed 10stone so ive gained over a stone and my strength have improved quite alot. I take 2 mass gainer shakes a day and 5g creatine. My calorie intake is around 3000. The boys in work say because of my frame i wont bulk up much :/. are they right? My frame is slim But i really want to bulk up and get bigger. Anyone got any help or advice for me would abe appreciated :) Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:34

Hey Chris! I suggest that you stick with what you're doing, and time will tell in regards to how much you'll gain. Try to not focus too much on what you want to look like; shift that focus to your routine and diet instead, and you'll definitely see results.

Posted on: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 13:46

reading this article is like taking nutrition advice from a budda. Look at his picture for godsakes and his face; he doesn't look like he's healthy. Fat is not healthy.

Posted on: Thu, 01/31/2013 - 13:54

does the protein shake after a workout count as 1/6 meals of your day?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 01/31/2013 - 19:14

A typical protein shake has between 25-30 grams of protein, give or take a couple of grams. This isn't a lot of protein in the context of trying to add mass. Also, it's usually around 120-150 calories per serving depending on fat and carbohydrate content. I wouldn't count this as a meal, and it's important to note that you should not rely on shakes too heavily. Most of your intake should be from whole foods.

Posted on: Sat, 02/09/2013 - 17:42

I would say yes it does.

Posted on: Wed, 01/30/2013 - 15:51


Im 5,11 and 162lbs, I'm quite a slim build but looking to add muscle and become lean. I dont want to become huge or anything stupid i'd just like to look like a guy who trains (good shape). How many calories would you recommend i structure my diet around and what would you say is the best suppliments? Great feed. Cheers

Posted on: Tue, 01/29/2013 - 08:18

Really enjoyed the read. Nutrition is so key to all exercise regimes. It is just a shame we can not all have personal nutritionists... or chefs to make the right foods!

Posted on: Sun, 01/20/2013 - 15:06

Hi Steve

I have a few questions!

I've been reading up on your articles and its very interesting. I hope that you will be able to assist me!

1. I have a very high metabolism, but i don't have a big appertite. If i'm lucky i eat 2 meals a day. How am i suppose to eat like 6 meals a day if i'm not hungry?! I weigh roughly 56KGs i don't lose weight but i don't gain either. But i want to change that. Sometimes i can eat alot when i want but still don't gain even 1KG my doctor says it could be my thyroid thats over working, so i'm in the proccess of having that checked out. Oh and i am training as well.

2. I've tried the different meal replacements shakes, but i find that if i go according to the servings i start gaging and wanting to throw up. i've also tried making the servings less, but i find the same out come! Is there a meal replacement shake you can recommend that i can take, but also not expensive?

I could really use your help, as i really want to bulk up and put on lean muscles!


Joey from South Africa

chris G
Posted on: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 22:41

hi , if im playing sports like soccer and karate can i still drink a protein shake after ? .. Also is eating white rice a good source of food to build muscle ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:37

You can certainly drink a protein shake after soccer or karate. I would recommend that you switch to brown rice, as it's more nutritionally sound. I would not depend on rice as your sole source of carbohydrate, however. Mix it up with vegetables, fruit, and other whole grains.

Posted on: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 00:04

Curtis has a point, eating before bed is not a good idea even if its just a small meal or low calorie food. Wait until the morning and eat all you want.

Posted on: Sat, 12/29/2012 - 16:29

Is it just me, or can't anyone spell on here?

Posted on: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:57

I agree with everthing except the eat before bed part. That will make you fat and it is not healthy. You should not eat within about 2 hours of sleeping. Instead taper meals down over the course of the day having a large breakfast and successively smaller meals until about 2 hours before bed.

jordan 9 johnny...
Posted on: Fri, 11/09/2012 - 13:24

A insanity and p90x in July isn't actually worth a flytangjin3600

Val pires
Posted on: Tue, 11/06/2012 - 06:58

Nice page

jordan 5 for sale
Posted on: Sat, 11/03/2012 - 07:47

Thanks so much for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.tangjin3600

Posted on: Fri, 10/05/2012 - 02:08

so good

Posted on: Fri, 09/28/2012 - 12:21

hi, im wanting to build muscle and make myself bigger built, what is the most important things i will have to do/take?

Posted on: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 04:56

Hi mate this artical helped a lot , I just started training etc and trying to bulk up but I am so skinny seems. To take a while, I don't really have time to eat 6 meals a day is there any other nutrition program you could advise to help me as I am really motivated to get bigger I am also on the shakes aswell would you also advise creatine ? Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 11:37

Hey Jordan,

Don't worry about getting 6 meals a day. Then total amount of calories you take in per day is far more important than meal frequency. If you can get it all in with 3-4 meals a day - go for it! Also, I highly recommend looking into creatine.

Posted on: Sun, 09/09/2012 - 17:58

Hi Steve, can peanut butter and jelly be one of the meal throughout the day? Since i'm in school and it's hard to eat "real" food while in class, and PBJ is the lease messy thing i can think of for "in between" meals!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 11:50

I love PBJs! I'd say make the most out of them by using natural PB and real fruit jelly with whole wheat bread.

Jack Thompson
Posted on: Sun, 07/08/2012 - 07:24

hey i'm currently looking to build muscle mass but get more definition as well do I have to change antything in those tips you put up or my diet? Thanks.