It’s a long-held myth that in order to gain muscle, you have to accept getting fatter too.
It annoys me. It’s wrong. And there are many examples of people all around the world (myself included) who are consistently demonstrating that it isn’t true.
Heck, some people are adding muscle while cutting, like on the Total Six Pack Abs program, and those on Jacked ‘N’ Ripped are most definitely building muscle and losing fat simultaneously.
So today I’m going to give you 6 tips that will allow you to pack on muscle without adding a single pound of fat in the process.
(1) Stop Eating 500 Calories Above Maintenance Every Day
It’s too much. That’s overeating 3500 Calories a week (there are 3500 Calories in a pound of fat).
Start by eating 200-300 Calories above maintenance and assess your gains from there. This is a safe level. True, some extreme ectomorphs can take more, but this is still the place to start for everyone.
You can use my free online calculator to work out both your Maintenance Calories and your Gain Calories (200-300 above).
Don’t believe me because you’ve been brainwashed with the “500 Calories above” myth?
Check out this post I wrote about building 12 pounds of muscle in a year, and how many extra Calories it would really take. You’ll be surprised!
By the way, if you want a delicious way of hitting your calorie (and protein) needs, check out my cook book Buff Baking.
(2) Eat Low Sugar
I’ll cover this in broad strokes here because I’ve written about this in more detail in my articles Carbs and Weight Loss and How To Lose Fat.
Basically, a diet high in sugar causes abnormal functioning of 2 hormones – insulin and leptin.
There are 2 results from this:
(1) It actually causes you to overeat – you get fat
(2) Even if you don’t overeat (in your own estimation) your body is now storing more of those incoming Calories as fat (as you’ve put the body in storage mode, not burning mode) and it is expending less i.e. at the cellular level Calories In is greater than Calories out. So you think you’re eating maintenance calories, but you’re getting fatter.
(3) Eat These Type of Carbs
For those going the higher carb route to building muscle. Stick to carbs that are not just low GI but low GL – low in glycemic load.
My bodybuilding diet called GLAD will explain this in more detail. But here are examples of carbs to stick with:
- Rye kernel (pumpernickel) bread (1 slice) – 6 GLs
- Volkenbrot (wholemeal rye bread) (1 slice) – 7 GLs
- Wholewheat Tortilla Wrap – 8GLs
- 30g Rolled Oats Cooked
- 50g Original Granola (1 medium bowl) 5GLs
- 150g boiled Quinoa – 8 GLs
- 80g Brown Basmati Rice boiled – 7GLs
- 150g New Potato – 10GLs
- 190g Avocado 1 medium 1GL
- 75g Green beans 1 handful 1GL
- 75g Kale 1 handful 1GL
- 100g Broccoli 1 handful 2GLs
(all salad vegetables are good)
- 250ml Glass of Milk – 3GLs (full-fat is lower than skimmed and semi-skimmed)
- 200g Non-fat Natural yoghurt (plain, no sugar) 3GLs
Legumes & Nuts
- 30g Hummus (chickpea dip) 0.5 small tub 1.5GLs
- 150g Peas, dried, boiled 0.5 cup 2GLs
- 150g Pinto beans, boiled in salted water 4GLs
- 150g Borlotti beans, boiled 4GLs
Spaghetti & Pasta
- 90g Pasta, wholemeal, boiled – 8GLs
- 90g Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled – 8GLs
- 16g Peanut butter, no sugar (1 tablespoon) 1GL
- 30g Blueberry spread, no sugar (1 dessertspoon) 4GLs
- 120g Blackberries – 1GL
- 120g Blueberries 120g – 1GL
- 120g Raspberries – 1GL
- 120g Strawberries, fresh, raw – 1GL
- 120g Pear, raw (1 medium) – 4GLs
(4) Eat Fat
A low-fat diet makes you hungry. Fat in our diet helps us feel full i.e satiated. Going low fat will actually make you crave more food.
Also, fat is required for optimal production of testosterone. Therefore, a low-fat diet is a disaster for anyone seeking to gain muscle.
My favorite fat sources are:
- Eggs (yes the yolk is important!)
- Red meat (low-carbers can have more of this than high carbers)
- Real butter (low-carbers can have more of this than high carbers)
- Olive Oil
- Coconut oil
(5) Get Enough Protein
This might sound simple but you’d be surprised how many guys aren’t hitting their daily target.
When you don’t get enough protein you WILL seek out those calories from other sources. Protein is VERY satiating.
100 Calories from chicken for example is quite filling. But if you didn’t get these 100 Calories, you’ll end up getting them elsewhere, and perhaps from sugar and fat. And we all know you’ll end up taking in a lot more than 100 Calories if you do.
Generally speaking aim for…
1g protein for pound of bodyweight. 180lbs = 180g.
See this article for a more precise formula.
For whey protein I highly recommend Optimum Nutrition Whey in the USA, and Impact Whey from MyProtein for those living in Europe.
(6) Get Enough Water
Not getting enough water can actually cause people to think they are hungry, when really they are dehydrated to some degree.
Your body is around 70% water and muscle tissue is around 75% water. You need sufficient water intake to build muscle at optimal rate. Also, strength can decrease by up to 15% with a drop in hydration levels of only 3%!
Use this formula as a guide:
Body weight (lbs) X 0.6 = Water Intake in ounces
So a 160 lb man needs 96 ounces of water daily. That’s around 12 x 8 ounce cups.
So if you eat 200-300 calories above maintenance, low in sugar, the right carbs, with fat, and sufficient protein & water – you can pack on muscle with zero fat.
I’m doing it. Thousands of other muscle hackers are doing it too. It’s not hard when you know how 😉
Remember, to help you do this I have a free book of bodybuilding meal plans all laid out for you. Download it here.
Also, make sure you check out my MANS and GLAD bodybuilding diets. They’re both equally effective. One is carb-cycling, one is high-carb. Base your choice on which foods you like to eat.
Of course, you need the right training to make sure you are gaining month after month. I’ve got you covered there too!
The single BEST thing you can do is to get THT training. Join 67,000 others and let today be the beginning of a new way of training which will finally bring you the results you desire. Just input your email below (it’s totally FREE).
Stay Motivated & Stay Lean!
P.S. If you’re not already lean and need to cut, there is no better fat loss program than Total Six Pack Abs in my honest opinion. A new year is coming in a few short weeks – change your life!
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
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This is very very helpful Mark. Thank you!
I few years ago I used to throw away my yolks lol until I found musclehack that is!! Great work as usual.
Thanks for the straightforward advice as always Mark. I’m going the carb, high fat, high protein path. Im still hitting the gym and getting above maintenance calories, will this protocol help further my gains? Thanks.
How do you feel about fiber one bread?
Another excellent cereal grain next to Quinoa is Amaranth. It even has a higher nutritional value.
What is the GL on the rolled oats? (not listed above)
i have already been receiving info and emails from muscle hack for tht training for a while now but could not download properly is an actual printed copy available which is what i thought i was getting originally
@Corey. We don’t have fiber one bread where I am, but I looked it up and it looks good to go 🙂
@Jim. I didn’t include the GL on rolled oats as I get different answers from different places. From 2 to 10! Although I can’t believe oats would be 10 GLs. I personally would think 2 is accurate for a 30g serving.
@George. I took a note of your email and sent you the link to download THT (please check spam folder if you don’t see it). There is no physical copy, but you can print it out if you wish.
mark do you think that GL of boiled whole milk will be more than raw milk?and does boiling it degrade it protein or protein content?and i wish milk milk wont case any hinderence it TSPA ??????:D
@abi. No it wouldn’t affect the GL. Also heated protein is fine. I wrote an article about that here
thank you bud
how did that article got off my mind :/
yea maybe because i heard that denatured protein is not acceptedmy everyone’s body.i hope thats not true.
but thanks for help man…thumbs up for ur work.
*not accepted by everyone’s body
@Abi. Don’t worry about it. All protein gets denatured in the stomach anyway – it’s supposed to happen.
your words in nutrition are like written in stone 😀
thanks for the help.