If you are trying to build muscle but you are finding yourself spinning your wheels and feeling like you’re stuck and struggling, then you may be making mistakes that need to be avoided.
Muscle building is as much about the things you need TO DO as it is about the things you need TO NOT DO, as well. Learning about the mistakes holding you back and then addressing them could be the answer you need to your lack of muscle growth.
In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you 5 nutrition mistakes that are potentially hurting your muscle gains. Avoid these mistakes if you want to build lean muscle mass the right way.
If you clicked this blog post then you are probably wanting to gain muscle or you have already started trying to gain muscle but are finding yourself lacking progress. Sound familiar?
Either way, today you will learn about some possible mistakes that are getting in your way of reaching gainz city via the gainz train.
The Basics of Muscle Gain
First, let's talk about the basics of muscle gain. I want to explain the three foundations of muscle building that you might already know about (and if not, you’re welcome). Think of this as the 3 Pillars of Muscle Gaindom.
Essentially, you need to be stimulating the muscle via resistance training while fuelling and recovering with a diet that has enough protein and ideally has at least maintenance calories, if not a slight surplus (very important for the well-trained individual).
Beyond The Basics
However, beyond these three basics, there are other factors you have to consider that may be making or breaking your muscle gains potential. You need to take these into consideration as these may very well be key mistakes you are making with your nutrition and muscle building plan.
Mistake Number #1: Consistency With Calories
While calorie adequacy is a very useful part of the muscle-building equation, it won’t matter if, at the end of the day/week/month, you are not hitting those calories consistently enough. Or if you are not eating those calories long enough and staying patient. Daily calories matter but what matters more is weekly calories AND then the long term consistency over the next few months - because building muscle takes time (and this varies for each and every athlete).
Let's use a quick example to illustrate this point:
This is a very basic example of how being inconsistent with calories is one of the most common mistakes I see athletes make when trying to get “them gains”.
Mistake Number #2: Not Sleeping Enough
Sleep is one of the most underrated aspects of a lifestyle plan. Many athletes do NOT prioritise sleep for a number of different reasons or simply have diminished sleep due to external factors in their life. However, sleep is when your muscles are in recovery mode and when they actually repair and grow. It is safe to say that sleep and muscle gain go hand in hand - you need to sleep to build. Simple.
Poor or inadequate sleep is a big factor when it comes to diminished muscle building potential so literally, a mistake you may be making is that you are not resting enough to allow your muscles to grow after you have trained them and fed them.
Mistake Number #3: Irregular Meal Times / Fasting Protocols
While meal timing and distribution is not as important as your total calories and macro intake, you still should look at it if you are finding yourself stuck and if you want to take your plan to the next level.
You should be aiming to get in your food (especially due to the protein - more on that in a moment), across the day in a strategic way. If you are not, then you may be leaving results on the table. You need to get in your recovery fuel to repair and build your muscle - this is non-negotiable. Otherwise, you will not be stimulating muscle protein synthesis in the most optimal way which will limit your growth.
On the other hand, fasting may be a mistake you are making for much the same reasons as stated above. Intermittent Fasting minimises your fuelling window and also diminishes the optimisation of recovery fuel from food.
Can you build muscle while fasting? Of course!
Is it ideal? Not so much.
All I’m saying is that if you are fasting and doing so very significantly with prolonged fasting windows, you might be diminishing how much you can build your muscles. Sorry, not sorry.
Mistake Number #4: Poor Protein Distribution
I mentioned earlier in the blog that protein adequacy is a core pillar of muscle building success. However, that doesn’t mean that optimising protein distribution isn’t important too. Protein adequacy is king, but protein distribution is the queen - both compliment each other to ensure you rule over your muscle gains.
For example, say that you need to eat 130g of protein daily. Eating that amount in 1-2 meals won’t be as ideal as spreading that amount across the day in 3+ meals. You would gain muscle in both scenarios (hypothetically speaking and assuming all other pieces of the puzzle are in place), but the latter would likely lead to increased growth.
Here is a general guideline to follow for optimal distribution of protein:
Mistake Number #5: Impatience
Okay, yes this one isn’t “technically” a nutrition mistake but it goes hand in hand with the success and failure of a nutrition plan that it needs to be included. Impatience won’t directly prevent you from building muscle but it may influence how consistent you are and how long you follow the plan - which are both crucial when it comes to results of any nature.
As I’ve said time and time again, muscle gain takes time so if you are impatient and don’t see the plan through to the end, then you can argue an impatient mindset literally stops muscle gains from becoming a reality for the athlete. Basically, if an athlete is impatient they may give up sooner than is needed to see the results they were working so hard for.
So if you are an impatient person when it comes to changes in your physique then perhaps it’s time to work on this mindset because it’s definitely not ideal and could very well be the difference-maker between seeing results and never achieving them.
So there you go. Now you know what you need to avoid to ensure that you can maximise your muscle-building potential. By avoiding these 5 key mistakes, you will ensure that you are on the best possible pathway to seeing changes in your physique. However, remember to ensure you are implementing the 3 Core Pillars of Gainsdom - training enough, eating enough, and “protein...ing” enough.
Please feel free to comment below this blog post and tell me: are you currently trying to gain muscle and what are you struggling with?
Want to level up your nutrition?
So if you are ready to take your nutrition to the next level and elevate your performance in a way that doesn’t make you want to punch your dietitian, then let’s chat.
I have developed a 90 Day Macro Sherpa program that is a 1:1 nutrition coaching experience to help start bridging the gap between where you are now and where you want to be as an athlete. In this program, I'll personally coach you using my flexible nutrition system to help you harness the power of calories and macro strategy to regain your competitive edge.
In fact, if you want to build muscle, I can help you do so the right way and ensure you stay on track and take out the guesswork so you can focus on the doing and the getting of results.
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Coach Aleksa (Sports Dietitian)
Hi there! My name's Aleksa Gagic - i'm a Brisbane Dietitian & Nutritionist. The aim of this blog is to provide value and spread quality evidence-based nutrition information to counter the BS floating around.