When it comes to building muscle, women don’t always have it as easy as men—mainly because we don’t have as much testosterone (the key hormone involved in muscle building). However, the good news is that women have the same propensity for protein synthesis as men, which means if we provide the body the right nutrients, it will increase lean mass! And, YES, a workout designed for muscle growth is important, but even more important is the diet. (Check out my previous post, on why you can’t build muscle.) This post will help you construct a proper muscle building diet plan.

Step #1 – Muscle Building Calories

For muscle building, you need to eat a diet that is not in deficit, but it is not necessary to overeat either. By overeating, you will put on unnecessary fat weight, which will be harder to lose later. Aim for a diet that maintains (or adds a safe and healthy amount of weight) and one that helps switch your body composition to be leaner and more muscular. A daily calorie intake that is about 12 to 15 times your body weight is usually a good starting point, depending on your current weight, your activity level and the amount of weight you want to gain or maintain. If you’re very thin, you may even want to consider multiplying your weight by 15 to 18 times your body weight.

Step #2 – Macronutrient Breakdown

All three macronutrients will be important when it comes to building muscle. Protein is needed to repair, rebuild and put on muscle, while carbohydrates will help fuel workouts, glycogen replenishment and stimulate insulin for nutrient delivery and protein synthesis. Lastly, essential fats are needed for hormone development. This means a balanced macronutrient ratio is critical. Go for a diet that consists of 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fats.

Step #3 – Choose Your Nutrients


Choose from lean cuts of meat, poultry, dairy and fish, but don’t be afraid to eat meats that provide some fat as well. Saturated fat from eggs and red meat provide a source of cholesterol that can help balance important hormones needed for growth! Choose from:

Lean Red Meat
Whole Eggs
Egg Whites
Fatty Fish


Complex carbs are important, but it’s ok to also eat a few simple ones too. Although nutrient timing and the post-workout anabolic window is in question by many researchers, eating simple carbs after training does help muscle building by stimulating insulin release. This shuttling hormone helps direct nutrients to the muscle to help with glycogen replenishment and protein synthesis. Choose from:

Whole Grains
Brown Rice
White Rice
Sweet Potato
Green Veggies


Studies have shown that eating a diet that is higher in protein and fats can lead to increases in lean mass and strength, with a more favorable body composition over those following higher carbohydrate, low fat diets. Eating meat will provide some of your fat sources, but other sources include nuts, seeds and even dairy. Choose from:

Coconut Oil
Whole Eggs
Nut Butters
Flax Oil
Olive Oil
Pumpkin Seeds

Step #4 – Build Your Plan

120 pounds x 15 = 1800 Calories
40% Protein = 720 calories (4 calories per gram) = 180 g
30% Carbs = 540 calories (4 calories per gram) = 135 g
30% Fats = 540 calories (9 calories per gram) = 60 g

Meal Plan
Meal 1 ½ cup of Oatmeal
1 whole Egg with 1 cup Egg White
½ cup Mixed Berries
Meal 2 100 g Chicken Breast
½ cup Brown Rice
½ cup Mixed Veggies
Meal 3 1 scoop Protein Powder
1 apple
1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
Meal 4 100 g Lean Sirloin
1 cup Mashed Sweet Potato
1 cup Broccoli
Meal 5
150 g Salmon
1 cup Spinach Salad
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Meal 6 1 cup Non Fat Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp Natural Almond Butter