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Beginner's Nutrition Supplement Guide

Most of these tips are for advanced lifters too!

beginners supplement guide

There's no doubt that many of my training, nutrition, and supplement tips here are for more advanced lifters.

But that doesn't mean that I ignore the beginners in the gym. In fact, I prefer to give beginners preferential treatment to encourage them to continue this new lifestyle they've embarked upon. And helping them make sense of all the confusing diet and training advice that is circulating online and in the gym can help them make better sense of all this info and to see better and faster results. Most beginners entering the weight room for the first time are looking to build more muscle and strength. So the following 10 rules focus on muscle building. If you're a beginner who needs to lose some body fat while building muscle, these same rules apply with some minor tweaks as I discuss below. And for a great beginner's training plan click on the links below:

Beginner to Advanced training program

And if you are NOT a beginner, many of these same rules apply to you to.

So read along regardless of your training status. And do the beginner's at your gym a favor – print this article out and slip it in their locker!

Rule 1: Calories Count

The first thing that you need to focus on is consuming adequate calories. Building muscle is a calorie-consuming process. If you're not getting in enough calories for daily bodily processes and repair, then your body will not expend energy on muscle growth. On workout days most guys will need about 18 calories per pound of body weight just to maintain their muscle mass. To increase that muscle mass, you'll want to shoot for about 20-22 calories per pound of body weight. That equates to 3000 – 3300 calories for the 150 pounder. On rest days, since you won't be expending as many calories, you can pull back your calorie intake to about 18 calories per pound of body weight, or 2700 calories for the 150-pound guy. This will help to keep your mass gain on the lean side and avoid fat gain. But since you won't be consuming your pre and postworkout meals you will hit this number easily.

For those needing to lose fat, keep calories down around 18 per pound on workout days and about 14-16 on rest days.

Rule 2: Protein is Potent

Since muscle is made of protein, it should make perfect sense that to grow muscle you need to eat protein. Ample protein. Research now confirms that those who train with weights need at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for building adequate muscle. And several studies show that bumping protein up to 1.5 grams per pound is very effective for building muscle while following a weight-training program. This is especially true when a good portion of that extra protein comes from whey protein (for more on whey read the Beginner's Supplement Guide below). I have seen major gains in lean muscle mass in thousands and thousands of guys when they bump their protein up to 1.5 grams per pound on rest days and 2 grams per pound on workout days. For the 150-pound guy that means consuming 225-300 grams of protein per day. Since protein is more difficult for the body to convert into fat, it's a good strategy for gaining lean muscle to get in a good portion of your calories (about 40%) from protein. As far as protein sources go, you'll need plenty of whey and casein protein (see more on these below), but also lots of whole food protein sources, such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish and dairy.

Rule 3: Carbs Are Critical Too

While carbohydrates may not be as critical as protein is for muscle growth, they are important when trying to build muscle. As discussed above, your body needs to know that you have an energy surplus to grow muscle best. One signal your body uses to determine your energy status is whether or not your body is stocked up with glycogen, the storage form of carbs in muscle and the liver. Plus, glycogen pulls water into the muscles. The more glycogen you have stored in your muscles, the more water it pulls in. This fills up your muscles like a water balloon. That makes them fuller. This places a stretch on the muscle cell membranes, which instigates processes in the muscle that increase muscle protein synthesis and that can lead to long-term muscle growth. On workout days you should be shooting for about a minimum of 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. That's at least 300 grams for a 150-pound person. On rest days, to keep fat gains at bay, drop carbs down to about 1.5 grams per pound. Since you are not burning up carbs in the gym, you won't need as many as you will on workout days. But since you won't be eating preworkout and postwrokout carbs you will hit this number without any effort by following our sample plan.

For those needing to drop body fat, limit carbs to just 1 grams per pound per day on workout days and as low as 0.5 grams on rest days.

Rule 4: Don't Forget Fat

Fat is NOT the demon that it was once thought to be. Men need ample amounts of fat, even saturated fat, to maximize natural levels of testosterone. Monounsaturated fat is also critical for maintaining testosterone levels, as well as enhancing overall health. And the essential omega-3 fats, such as those found in salmon and other fatty fish, encourage better muscle growth and joint recovery, not to mention all the health benefits it offers. You should shoot for at least half your body weight in grams of fat. That's at least 75 grams per day of fat for the 150-pound guy. About 1/3 of that should be saturated fat, another 1/3 should be monounstaurated fat, and the other 1/3 should be polyunsaturated fat, with emphasis on the omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.

Rule 5: Be a Freq

I have long recommended frequent meals throughout the day for building muscle. As an example my sample meal in this article is composed of 7 meals on rest days and up to 9 meals on workout days with most meals separated by 2-3 hours apart. It works and it works well to build muscle, as I have seen in hundreds of thousands of guys and girls, if not millions, over the years. This is also how we have evolved to eat as infants when our whole purpose in life was to simply increase our mass as rapidly as possible. And a new study supports this concept. Researchers from Australia had subjects perform a leg workout and then fed them a total of 80 grams of whey protein over the next 12 hours in three different methods. They either consumed eight 10-gram doses of whey every 1.5 hours, or four 20-gram doses of whey every 3 hours, or two 40-gram doses every 6 hours. They reported in a 2012 issue of the journal Nutrition Metabolism that protein retention, which means the amount of protein that they retained from the whey in the muscle fibers, was increased significantly more when they consumed the four 20-gram doses of whey every 3 hours. The take-home point here is to consume a minimum of 20 grams of protein per meal and don't go any longer than 3 hours to maximize muscle growth. For more info on this study, read my Nutrition Science Update by clicking on the link below:


Rule 6: Break The Fast

Breakfast literally means to break the fast. The fast happens to be that 6-8 hour period while you were sleeping. Remember in Rule #5 that you should be consuming a protein-rich meal every 2-3 hours. When you sleep you at least double that amount of time between meals. Going this long without a meal signals your body to breakdown muscle protein for fuel, which is the last thing you want when you are trying to build muscle. Your body is very protective of it's motherboard, the brain and central nervous, which runs on glucose (carbs) for fuel. When you sleep, the majority of that glucose is supplied by the liver, which stocks up on stored carbs in the form of glycogen. When the glycogen levels of the liver reach a certain low point during the night, the liver signals the body to breakdown more muscle protein to convert the amino acids into glucose. So the first thing you should do when you wake up is stop your own body from stealing amino acids from your muscle fibers by delivering it a quick dose of amino acids with BCAAs and whey protein. See the supplement section for more info in these. You also want to restock your liver glycogen levels ASAP. While a fast-digesting carb like sugar would work, we prefer fruit. Yes, most fruit is low glycemic, meaning that it does not flood your blood stream with glucose. But one of the reasons for this is that the carbs in most fruit is half fructose or more. Fructose does not flood your bloodstream with sugar because it takes a direct trip to the liver where it gets converted into glycogen and then the liver slowly releases it into the bloodstream as glucose. This is what mainly slows fruit down. Fruit also is a good source of fiber, which also slows it down somewhat as well. If you're concerned about typical low-glycemic fruit being too slow in the morning, you can switch to higher glycemic fruit, such as most melons (cantaloupe, honey dew, etc.) or dates. So by getting in a piece of fruit (such as an apple, orange, peach, banana, cup of berries, half a melon, etc.) first thing in the morning with 20 grams of protein from a whey protein shake and 5 grams of BCAAs, you restock the liver to stop muscle protein breakdown and rebuild the muscle protein that was lost. About 30-60 minutes after this first breakfast, have a second breakfast of slower-digesting whole foods, such as eggs and oatmeal.

Rule 7: Slow Your Roll Before Bed

A discussed in Rule #6, you need to minimize the amount of muscle protein breakdown that occurs while you sleep. Some bodybuilders have been so adamant about stopping this process that they actually set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night and eat. No, you do not need to go to such extremes if you prep before bed properly. Slow-digesting protein is your friend here. Anything that is rich in the milk protein casein can provide you a steady supply of amino acids for about seven hours while you sleep. Casein forms micelles in the digestive tract. These micelles are essentially clumps of casein protein. These micelles behave essentially like an onion. Each layer of protein gets peeled off the clump to be digested one at a time, which means it provides your body a slow and steady stream of aminos/ That prevents your body from using amino acids from the muscle fibers to fuel the brain and using the amino acids from the casein instead, keeping your muscles intact. Good sources of casein protein include protein powders that include casein protein and milk protein (which is 80% protein), cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or regular cheese (such as string cheese, American cheese, cheddar cheese, etc.). Immediately before you hit the hay, have one or two scoops of a casein-rich protein powder or if you prefer to eat your protein, rather than drink it, a cup or so of cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or 3-4 oz of cheese.

Rule 8: Be An Egghead

When it comes to protein, there are certain ones you should try to include in your diet on most days, if not every day. For starters, there's dairy protein, as discussed above. But another one that you should highly consider is eggs. I suggest that you eat at least 3 whole eggs per day. That's because research has shown that men who eat 3 egg yolks every day while weight training gain twice as much muscle mass and strength as those not eating the yolks. This is likely due to the saturated fat and cholesterol in eggs aiding testosterone production. If you're worried about the cholesterol: don't. Research from the University of Connecticut shows that the cholesterol from egg yolks won't raise levels of the bad form of LDL (the bad cholesterol).

Rule 9: Beef Up

Another source of protein you'll want to be sure to eat is beef. In addition to the quality protein it provides, the saturated fat and cholesterol will enhance testosterone levels for maximizing muscle growth. Plus, beef is rich in B vitamins, zinc, and iron, which are all critical for growing muscle and for maintaining energy levels during workouts. They'll also help to keep your immune system strong, fighting off colds and other viruses that may force you to skip workouts and lose muscle.

Rule 10: Get Veggie

When it comes to building muscle, a mistake that many make is to focus solely on macronutrients, i.e. protein, carbs and fat. Yes these should be high on your priority list, but you do not want to miss out on the beneficial micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals that vegetables are rich sources of. Not only do these micronutrients help to promote better overall health, but they can help your body produce more testosterone, growth

Sample Daily Diet For A Beginner (or advanced lifter) Who Trains in The Evening (about 5:00 or 6:00 pm)

Breakfast 1

1/2 cantaloupe 1 scoop Whey Protein 5 g BCAAs

Breakfast 2

3 whole eggs 3 egg whites 2 cups cooked oatmeal 1 tbsp honey (add to oatmeal to sweeten)

Late morning snack

1 cup reduced fat Greek yogurt 1/2 scoop Whey Protein (your favorite flavor) 1 tsp honey 1/2 oz. walnuts (7 halves) crushed

(mix all ingredients in Greek yogurt and enjoy)


1 5 oz. can tuna (in water) 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise 2 slices whole-wheat bread (or Ezekiel bread)

Midday snack

3 sticks light mozzarella string cheese 1 large whole-wheat pita bread 1/4 Cup Hummus (Slice pita into triangles and dip in hummus)


1 large apple 1 scoop Whey Protein 5 g BCAAs 1 dose Creatine Train


1 scoop Whey Protein 2 cups low-fat milk 10 Wonka Pixy Stix 5 g BCAAs 1 dose Creatine


8 oz Top Sirloin Steak 1 large sweet potato 2 cups mixed green salad 2 Tbsp olive oil n vinegar based dressing

Bedtime snack

2 cups air popped popcorn 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Total calories = 3333, protein = 300 grams, carbs = 335 g, fat = 85 g

Sample Daily Diet For A Beginner (or advanced lifter) Who Trains in The Morning

Breakfast 1/Preworkout

1/2 cantaloupe 1 scoop Whey Protein 5 g BCAAs 1 dose Creatine Train


1 scoop Whey Protein 2 cups low-fat milk 10 Wonka Pixy Stix 5 g BCAAs 1 dose Creatine

Breakfast 2

3 whole eggs 3 egg whites 2 cups cooked oatmeal 1 tbsp honey (add to oatmeal to sweeten)

Late morning snack

1 cup reduced fat Greek yogurt 1/2 scoop Whey Protein (your favorite flavor) 1 tsp honey 1/2 oz. walnuts (7 halves) crushed

(mix all ingredients in Greek yogurt and enjoy)


1 5 oz. can tuna (in water) 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise 2 slices whole-wheat bread (or Ezekiel bread)

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