The Conscious Gut

Lean Muscle Diet: The Answer To Your Lean Muscle Gain Questions

When it comes to gaining lean muscle mass, most of us usually think we have this in the bag. You may think you know all the basic fundamentals for muscle development. As a result of such thinking, research would be the last thing on your mind. In this case you would likely end up going heavy on the weights and picking a trendy or popular diet plan.

You need to know that this is only half the equation. Each diet plan works best for particular goals. Using this line of thinking we can know that gaining lean muscle entails more than just breaking your back with a killer strength training routine.

Getting lean muscle involves incorporating various factors. These range from selecting a lean muscle diet, strength training, and getting enough rest to do cardio. Yes, cardio plays a vital role in muscle growth. We will evaluate each of these factors and determine how they can give you the shredded look.

More importantly than this, we will discuss the best lean muscle diet to help you attain and maintain the body you desire. Stick around to learn what foods you should incorporate in a lean diet as well as how effective such a diet plan is.

What Is A Lean Muscle Diet?

One way you can torch away your body fat and get those dreamed of muscles is by eating a lean muscle diet. The lean muscle diet comes from the phrase lean muscle. Lean muscle refers to your body mass minus the fat (10).

The lean muscle diet is one of the most significant factors for muscle growth and development. So, if this is your goal, you have to strictly follow this diet plan. The lean muscle diet is made up of various nutrition principles. It means that the best diet for building lean muscle must incorporate all these elements. They are as follows:

  • Lean Protein Is Key

Protein is among the major macronutrients that your body needs in large amounts. It is significant to help keep your body muscles, tissues, and bones healthy. The amount of protein you ought to consume varies depending on your calorie intake.

For example, if your daily calorie limit is 2,000 you must consume at least 50 grams of protein daily (8). Research suggests that very active people consume 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight (6). For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you must be eating 86 to 136 grams of protein daily.

However, if you are less active, your protein intake has to be lower. The best protein source to help you get ripped is from lean protein sources. They include foods like lean beef, legumes like beans and chickpeas, tofu, plain Greek yoghurt, and low-fat cottage cheese.

If you are on a vegetarian diet but still want lean muscle, consider protein sources outside the animal kingdom. For example, you can eat protein-rich foods such as asparagus, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, and sprouts (11).

  • Emphasis Is On Fruits And Vegetable Consumption

Most of us think that protein is the only necessary food group to help with muscle development. As such, you may overlook the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables. The truth of the matter is that fruits and vegetables play a vital role in muscle growth and development.

WebMD states that fruits and vegetables are the foundation of all healthy diet plans (1). The reason behind this is because they provide fiber, minerals, vitamins, and fluids.

  • Focus On Low-Fat Dairy Products

Low-fat dairy products provide your body with high-quality protein, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals. Low-fat milk is a particularly great option if you are trying to build muscle. Research shows that drinking skim milk after a resistance training program can help in building muscles (6).

  • Do Not Ignore The Carbs

The other ingredient you need in a lean muscle diet for females and males is carbs. Carbs tend to get a bad rap from most people. As a result, most people tend to limit or cut carbs entirely from their diets. Research indicates that carbs are vital in your body for various functions.

Carbs tend to play several roles in your body when it comes to muscle growth and development. First and foremost, they are responsible for energy production. During your workout, you will need the energy to fuel your muscles and brain. This energy comes from the breakdown of carbs.

According to Mayo Clinic, your carb intake will be influenced by your activity levels. If you exercise for more than an hour, you must consume 6 to 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of your body weight (13). So, if you weigh 150 pounds, your daily carb intake should range between 408to 680 grams daily.

Your carb limit should be 3 to 5 grams per kilogram of body weight if you are doing a light-intensity workout. It entails consuming 200 to 340 grams of carbs daily if you weigh 150 pounds. Again, you are asked to focus on the consumption of complex carbohydrates.

There are two types of carbohydrates. The first group is the simple carbohydrates. According to Medical News Today, these carbs are sugars that give your body a rapid energy rise (16). One common type of simple carbohydrate is white bread.

The second type is the complex carbohydrates, of which you are asked to eat for weight loss and muscle development. These carbs include fiber or starch. They provide your body with a slower but more long-term energy source (16). The best source of complex carbohydrates is whole-grain foods.

  • Eat Healthy Fats

The lean muscle diet also emphasizes eating healthy fats. Fats are significant in your body as they are also energy sources. However, you need to know that not all fats are healthy. This perhaps explains why the lean muscle diet focuses on healthy fats only.

The most recommended fats are unsaturated. Some of the foods rich in unsaturated fats include avocados, seeds, nuts, and olive oil. These are some of the best foods to eat, especially if you are on keto and want to build muscle.

  • Timing Is Also Key

In as much as you know what is included in a lean muscle diet, you also need to know when to eat. The best lean muscle diet plan will allow you to eat throughout the day. Most specifically, this will mean eating evenly between 3 and 4-hour intervals (5).

For bodybuilding, you are advised to eat at least 3 to 6 meals daily. Each of these meals should contain at least 20 grams of protein. Similarly, you are advised to eat both proteins and carbs before and after your workout. Experts discourage the consumption of high-fiber foods before or during your workout (12).

  • Portion Control Is Essential

You also need to be careful with the ratios of your foods. So, the first thing you need to do is consult with your doctor and get guidance on your daily calorie intake. Remember that for muscle development, you might be forced to go on a calorie surplus (4).

On the other hand, you need to balance your calories to maintain healthy body weight. You will also need to maintain a calorie deficit if you want to get ripped. All these can be achieved if you know your calorie limit and now start to practice portion control.


How To Build Lean Muscle On Diet

There are specific nutritional guidelines that can help you build lean muscle using the lean muscle diet. These guidelines will help you acquire a lean physique as well as promote longevity. Some have been discussed above. They are as follows:

  • Eating dense and nutritious foods
  • Eating throughout the day
  • Not skipping any meal
  • Eating the right amount and at the right time
  • Identifying the right fuels to match the needs of your muscles based on your workout routine

In addition to meeting these good nutritional components, you need to remember that getting lean depends on numerous factors. As mentioned earlier, they include exercising and getting adequate rest. Here is what you need to know about these other vital ingredients for building lean muscle:

  • Exercise

The best combo for muscle building is strength training and cardio. A significant number of people, perhaps even you, tend to overlook the importance of cardio in muscle development. Instead, they prioritize strength training and end up spending most of their time pumping weights. The fact is you need to do both cardio and strength training workouts.

Strength Training

Strength training means exercising using weights. These do not have to be squat racks, dumbbells, or machines. They can also involve using your body weight or resistance bands (7). Strength training works for the majority of your muscle groups, including your arms, back, chest, and legs.

You are required to be extra careful when doing a strength training routine, especially one which is incorporating weights. This is because these programs increase your risk of getting injuries. Experts suggest you do 8 to 10 strength training workouts at least 2 days a week (7).

Each of these workouts can have reps ranging from 8 to 12. Again, you are advised to use comfortable weights that are not overwhelming or injurious. In this case, you need to consult a fitness trainer for more assistance and guidance.

Lastly, experts recommend you alternate the muscle groups you target with your strength training workouts. These exercises tend to create tiny micro-tears in your muscles (14). These tend to repair and rebuild when you take a rest (2).

So, if you do not give your muscles enough time to recover, they might end up causing serious injuries. So, alternate your muscle groups. For example, you can start by targeting your back, biceps, and abs.

The next day, you can target your chest, triceps, and shoulders. On the third day, you can now target your lower body muscles. Abiding by all these aspects and then incorporating a lean muscle diet will help you realize your lean body goals quickly.


Cardio is also very important for muscle growth, especially for people leading sedentary lifestyles. However, not every cardio program can help with this growth. The most rewarding cardio program for muscle development is one that lasts for 30 to 45 minutes (7).

Not only that, it has to be done at least 4 to 5 times a week. The good news is that there are numerous cardio activities that you can choose to do. They range from running, jogging, swimming, cycling, to brisk walking.

The choice is yours to determine what aerobic activity best suits you. It is advisable to seek professional help and guidance when selecting an aerobic activity for muscle growth. It is because your health comes first and you need validation that the activity is safe for you to perform. Like with strength training workouts, remember to also eat clean and throughout the day to attain your lean body results.

  • Rest

In addition to exercising and eating a lean muscle diet, you can also get lean by getting adequate rest. Believe it or not, sleeping does help you get closer to your lean physique goals. When you are well-rested, you are less likely to become hungry.

The reasoning behind this is because sleep deprivation messes with several hormones that control your appetite hormones (15). As a result, you end up snacking on unhealthy foods or foods, not within your lean muscle diet plan.

Again, you need some off days from your exercise program. The time you spend away from the gym gives your body muscles enough time to recover and rebuild, minimizing injury risks. Additionally, sleep debts may not only inhibit muscle recovery but also contribute to loss of muscle mass (9).

Developing A Lean Muscle Building Diet Plan

If you are thinking of starting a lean muscle diet plan, the first thing you ought to do is speak to your nutritionist or dietitian. The worst thing you can do is start a diet plan without seeking any professional advice or guidance.

In such a case, you run the risk of acquiring nutritional deficiencies. To avoid this, first, talk to your doctor and dietitian to know if it is safe to continue with such a meal plan. If it is, then go back and analyze the principles of the lean muscle diet.

Their advice will come in handy as they will help you determine what foods to include and those to avoid. Similarly, they will help you learn the recommended ratios of these foods. Let us look at a one-week lean muscle diet plan that can benefit your workouts and help you attain your goals.

Free Sample Of A Lean Muscle Diet Plan

To stay on track with your lean body goals, you ought to use a meal plan. We all know that some old eating habits and cravings die hard, and may catch up with us soon, compromising our results. To avoid this, you are asked to come up with a lean muscle diet plan.

Developing such a plan can be challenging, especially if you do not know perfect combos within your daily calorie intake. Here are some meal plan ideas from Medical News Today to help with your bodybuilding goals. You can borrow or use them for reference when crafting your meal plan (3):

Day 1


  • Greek yoghurt with berries and whole-grain granola


  • Turkey breast with carrots and celery sticks


  • Grilled chicken breast over spinach with some almonds and sliced strawberries


  • A protein shake


  • Stir-fried shrimp with onions, peppers and broccoli over brown rice

Day 2


  • Oatmeal and a protein shake


  • Hard-boiled egg whites with cucumber and pepper slices


  • Grilled chicken with a tomato and white bean salad


  • Greek yoghurt with nuts and berries


  • Grilled fish with green beans and quinoa

Day 3


  • Greek yoghurt with some walnuts or almonds, fresh berries, and whole-grain granola


  • A protein shake


  • Grilled fish with a broccoli and spinach salad


  • Egg white omelet with mushrooms and bell peppers


  • Chicken breast topped with fresh salsa with sweet potato and a side salad

Day 4


  • Some protein pancakes with fresh berries


  • Apple slices and almonds


  • Lean ground beef burger on lettuce with onion, green beans, and tomato


  • A protein shake


  • Stir-fried shrimp with bell pepper ad brown rice over spinach

Day 5


  • Oatmeal with some berries and scrambled egg whites


  • Turkey breast with celery and carrots


  • Sirloin steak with mushrooms and broccoli


  • Apples with natural nut butter


  • Broiled fish, a mixed green salad and brown rice

Day 6


  • Oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and stir-fried vegetables


  • A whey protein shake


  • Grilled chicken breast, baked sweet potato, and mixed greens


  • A hard-boiled egg and some carrot sticks


  • Broiled fish, brown rice, and green beans

Day 7


  • Scrambled egg whites with peppers, cheese, Ezekiel bread and herbs


  • A protein shake


  • Grilled chicken breast with black beans, bell peppers, and onions over romaine lettuce


  • Apple and almonds


  • Sirloin steak with asparagus and sweet potato

The Bottom-Line

Starting a lean muscle diet can help you build healthy muscles. These are important for good body strength and function. Such a diet consists of all foods groups, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables.

A licensed nutritionist or dietitian can offer you more insight on how to craft a practical lean muscle diet plan. They will make sure all the meals are tailored to suit your needs. Above all else, remember that the lean muscle diet is not the only ingredient you need for a lean physique.

You will also need to exercise and get enough rest. As always, speak to a fitness trainer to help you design a practical exercise program. The best program matched with the lean muscle diet will help you achieve the results you want.

If you are interested in healthy meal plans, you may be curious about other methods of supporting your body health. Supplement your diet with some exercise to double your results.

Alexandra Danieli

Alexandra Danieli, CHC, The Conscious Gut
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