For some people, gaining muscle can be just as tricky as it is for others to lose body fat. You spend hours each week at the gym lifting heavy weights, but you aren’t seeing the progress you are hoping for. The reason might be that you are focusing too much on your workouts and not enough on your diet. Diet always goes hand-in-hand with exercise. Whatever your fitness goal might be, you cannot achieve it solely by going to the gym. You have to eat right in order to achieve your health and fitness goals.

There are tons of recommended diets out there and we know it can feel overwhelming, so in this article, we will break down the basics on where we start.

  1. Increase Your Daily Caloric Intake

Simply put, if you want to grow muscle, you need to eat. Being in a caloric deficit is important for weight loss, but with weight loss also comes muscle loss. If you want to gain muscle, you will need to gain weight as well. Additionally, your body is working very hard at the gym to build that muscle and you need to ensure that you are giving it enough fuel in order to train at your best. If you don’t ingest enough calories, your body will become fatigued and run out of energy midway through your training sessions and you won’t be able to push yourself to the max.

  1. Get Enough Protein

This is something we hear so often—bulk up on protein shakes to get those “gains”. However, you might be surprised as to how much protein you actually need, and you might not be getting enough of it. Studies suggest that eating anywhere between 0.7 – 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is ideal for gaining muscle. For example, if you are a male that weighs 165lbs, you should be eating anywhere between 115 – 165 grams of protein a day. The exact recommended amount depends on other factors, including your physical activity levels, height, age, and body fat percentage. When you lift heavy weights, the muscle’s protein fibers break down and become slightly damaged. In order to repair and regenerate these protein fibers, your body needs a surplus of protein. This is not only essential for muscle growth, but also for preventing injuries.

  1. Don’t Cut Your Carbs

You may have heard that you should cut down on carbs in order to lean out and gain muscle. You might hear that protein is the most important macronutrient for muscle growth and that the rest don’t matter. This is a huge misconception and it might be hindering your progress at the gym. Carbohydrates are your body’s most abundant source of energy. They are digested the fastest and should be readily available for your body to break down and use for fuel, especially if you are exerting yourself with strenuous exercise. If you are trying to lift heavy weights and gain muscle, you need enough energy to do that. Although protein is important, your body does not like to use it as an energy source. Protein is a valuable macronutrient and it has a huge role in building many important molecules; your body won’t want to waste it for energy. That is why you need to eat sufficient amounts of complex carbohydrates, such as oats, whole grains, and starchy vegetables, in order to properly fuel your body for the strenuous workouts that you are doing.

Remember that gaining muscle is just as much of a process as any other physique change. It will take time to see the results you want, but with consistent weight lifting and a diet sufficient in calories, protein, and carbohydrates, you will slowly begin to see the changes that you are hoping to see.