Use these nine nutrition rules to build more muscle with less fat.

If you've followed any of my mass-gain diets, you know I hang my hat on a few "tricks" that stay fairly consistent in my nutrition programs. These are tips and techniques that I've found to work best over decades of working with people to maximize muscle growth naturally. These "tricks" are backed by science done in the lab, but more importantly, they're backed by real-world evidence in the gym on literally millions of people using them. Over the years I've tweaked a few of them to make them even better. These tweaks are due to the compilation of better research in both my gym and the lab, which provides a better understanding on how these techniques works best to build muscle.

Use these guidelines and you can be sure that you're netting the most lean muscle mass gains possible.

Rule #1: Eat A LOT of Protein

Muscle is made of protein, and to build muscle you need to boost muscle protein synthesis as well as decrease muscle breakdown. Research in the lab and my gym confirms that the best way to do this is with a diet that gets you between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. (Converting to kilograms would make it a little over 2 grams and up to around 3 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight daily.) Some individuals do even better with more than this amount, taking in closer to 2 grams. This is especially true for those following my more intense training programs.

Read more on research regarding protein intake and muscle building

Rule #2: Eat Frequently

Lately, there are some experts claiming that eating more infrequently is the way to go -- that waiting 5 or 6 hours before your next meal may be better than eating every 2-3 hours. This is based on the fact that waiting longer between meals spikes protein synthesis higher.

That's fine and dandy, but when you go longer between meals you also increase muscle breakdown. And that may actually be the more critical factor in muscle growth. Sure, muscle protein synthesis is important, but if it's just playing catch up after the muscle has gone through protein breakdown, then it sort of evens out and you haven't actually accrued any muscle mass. These tend to be experts that try to complicate things more than they need to.

I'm all for making our recommendations better by using the current science, but only if that current science crosses over and shows real results in the gym. Decades of experience show that bodybuilders who eat more frequent meals build more muscle. In fact, I have data on thousands and thousands of real men and women showing this to be the case. And a recent study helps to confirm this. The study showed that consuming a smaller dose of whey protein every three hours led to better net protein balance (muscle protein synthesis minus muscle protein breakdown) than a larger dose of whey every six hours.

Read more on this study as well as my thoughts on more frequent meals

This is why I recommend getting in about six meals on rest days and up to eight meals on workout days. That equates to eating meals about every 2-3 hours. It works! And around workouts your time between meals may be even less. For example, if you're having a pre-workout meal right before the workout and a post-workout meal immediately after and the workout lasts only 60-90 minutes, that's one instance of where meals occur even less than 2-3 hours apart. Same with the meal that follows. I recommend getting in a whole-food meal about an hour after your post-workout protein shake.

Rule #3: Get Ample Fats

One mistake people make when trying to keep lean is to avoid fat as much as possible. That is a bad idea for numerous reasons. For one, there are essential fats that your body needs, such as omega-3 fats from fatty fish like salmon. These fats have recently been found to be critical players in muscle recovery and growth, as well as keeping body fat off, aiding joint health, protecting against heart disease, boosting brain function and a host of other health benefits.

Then there's monounsaturated fat.This isn't an essential fat, but it's a healthy fat due to the fact that it provides numerous health benefits and is readily burned for fuel rather than being stored as body fat. On top of that, research shows that male athletes consuming appreciable amounts of monounsaturated fat maintain higher testosterone levels. Actually, the research shows that male athletes consuming more monounsaturated fat AND saturated fat maintain higher testosterone levels. Yes, you actually WANT to consume some saturated fat versus trying to avoid it at all costs. Good sources include beef, dairy (full fat or reduced fat, but not fat-free) and whole eggs.

The only fat you want to avoid without exception is trans fat. My simple rule for fat intake is to consume half your body weight in pounds (or roughly your entire body weight in kg) in grams of fat. So, if you weigh 200 pounds (90kg), you would consume about 100 grams of fat per day with about 33% being monounsaturated fat, 33% being polyunsaturated (mainly omega-3 fats) and 33% being saturated fat.

Rule #4: Manipulate Carbs

Since you want to make sure you're eating ample protein and fats to maximize muscle growth, the amounts of these two critical macronutrients should stay about the same regardless of your goals. That means to gain more mass or lose more body fat you should be changing up your carb intake. The body can make all the glucose (blood sugar) it needs from protein and fat, so there's no "essential" carbs you need from the diet, unlike with fat (where you have essential fats you need to consume) and protein (where essential amino acids need to come from food because your body doesn't make them).

I suggest that you start off somewhere around 1.5 - 2.0 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day to maximize mass gain while still staying lean. From here, you can increase the amount if you find you aren't gaining mass as rapidly as you'd like and aren't gaining any body fat. Similarly, you can gradually lower this amount if you find you're gaining too much body fat. Everyone's body responds to carbs differently, so you need to experiment with carb intake to determine what works best for you. If you find the right carb intake for your body, you can actually gain plenty of muscle while losing body fat.

Several thousand guys have already reported that with the Shortcut To Size and Micro Muscle programs they've gained 20-30 pounds of muscle while dropping a significant amount of body fat -- naturally! It is indeed possible with the right diet and training program.

Rule #5: Consider Calories

I'm not a huge stickler on calorie amounts. Yes, calorie intake is somewhat important, but as long as you're hitting the proper amounts of protein and fats and have your carb intake dialed in for your body, how far over or under your energy needs you are doesn't really matter -- to a point.

As I said in Rule #4, you can gain muscle while losing body fat. That being said, to really maximize muscle mass gains, you should be eating more calories than you're burning each day. And to maximize fat loss, you should be burning more calories than you're consuming. However, it is possible to burn slightly more calories than you're consuming yet still gain muscle due to the fact that you're eating ample amounts of protein and fat.

We know that 1 gram of protein provides 4 calories, as does 1 gram of carbs. We also know that 1 gram of fat provides about 9 calories (8-10 calories, depending on the type of fat). If we build a diet from the macronutrients up and want to be sure to get in 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 0.5 grams of fat per pound, then that right there is about 11 calories per pound of body weight. If you shoot for anywhere from about 1-2 grams of carbs per pound, you should be eating at least 15-19 calories per pound of body weight to build muscle. If you find you need a good 3 grams of carbs per pound, then you need about 23 calories.

Rule #6: Use a Protein Powder Blend Like Pro JYM

For over a decade, I've recommended focusing on using whey protein powders. And that advice remains the same, just with a little tweak to it. Whey is definitely the king of protein. For one, it's rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). It also provides special peptides and microfractions that other protein sources or straight-up aminos can't. In fact, a recent study comparing whey protein to an amino acid mix that provided the same exact amino acids that whey provides showed that whey outperformed the amino acids.

Read more on that study

Whey also happens to be the fastest-digesting protein you can consume, which means it delivers its critical BCAAs, peptides and microfractions to your muscles ASAP. This is important for energy during the workout as well as for muscle growth after. So yes, the first protein you want to concern yourself with is whey, especially before, after and/or during workouts as well as in the morning and at any point between meals where a protein shake will do. However, the advice to drink JUST whey is no longer the best option.

The better option is to drink whey with a slow-digesting protein, particularly micellar casein. Research shows that adding casein to whey prolongs the anabolic window that whey creates. Whey spikes muscle protein synthesis, but casein keeps it spiked for longer. Micellar casein is casein in its natural form found in milk. It has been shown to provide a slow and steady supply of aminos for as long as seven hours. This is due to the fact that casein literally forms a clot when it's in the stomach.

To visualize this, consider when you mix a whey protein powder compared to when you mix a casein powder. The whey tends to mix very easily while the casein forms clumps in the fluid. This is similar to what happens in your stomach when you consume casein. Although casein may be bad for palatability when drinking it as a shake, it provides benefits when these clumps form in your stomach. These clumps decrease the surface area of the casein that's available to digestive enzymes. The enzymes must digest the casein clumps one layer at a time, much like peeling the layers of an onion.

Hence, as I mentioned earlier, casein provides a slow and steady supply of aminos to keep protein synthesis extended for longer and decrease muscle protein breakdown. Remember, muscle grows when protein synthesis is greater than muscle breakdown. Casein actually works on both ends to promote growth. One easy way to get micellar casein that you may not have realized is from protein powders and drinks that provide milk protein isolate or milk protein concentrate. This is why I included milk protein isolate in Pro JYM.

Read more about milk proteins

It's also a good idea to add in a protein source that digests at a medium rate -- one that's slower than whey but faster than casein. This bridges the gap, so to speak, between whey and casein to provide a fast yet steady and long-lasting supply of amino acids to your muscles. Two of the best proteins to consider here are egg protein and soy protein. Not only do these proteins digest at a different rate than the milk proteins whey and casein, but they provide other benefits that the milk proteins don't. And no, soy does not decrease a man's testosterone levels or increase estrogen, as research confirms.

Read about the recent study on combining whey, casein and soy to better boost protein synthesis and keep it maintained

I realize that many men and women don't want to consume soy for other reasons. One issue may be the genetic modification many soy plants have undergone. Although it now appears that these genetically modified plants are safe for consumption, there's still much we don't know. So if you're opposed to soy for whatever reason, I highly recommend using egg protein with whey and casein. Egg protein provides higher amounts of sulfur-containing and other aminos that can aid muscle growth and overall health. This is the main reason why I use egg protein instead of soy in Pro JYM.

Read more on egg protein

Rule #7: Use Fast Carbs Right After Workouts

During workouts you're burning through muscle glycogen like a rap star burns through his bank account. Glycogen is the storage form of carbs. In simplified terms, when you consume carbs most are broken down into or converted into glucose, which is what blood sugar is. Glucose can either be used fairly immediately for fuel or stored, mainly in muscle fibers and the liver. It's stored in the form of glycogen, which is just long, branched chains of glucose connected together. The glycogen in your muscle cells and liver is broken down into glucose and used as one of the main fuels to fuel your workouts. At the end of a workout, your muscle glycogen levels are depleted, and if your muscle glycogen levels aren't restored, your performance in the next workout can suffer and muscle growth possibly compromised.

One way muscle growth can be impaired is due to the fact that muscle glycogen levels serve as a barometer for how much energy the body has stored. If energy levels are low, as it seems when muscle glycogen is low, the muscles may not want to...

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