8 Tips to Help You Build Muscle Without Supplements
Building muscle without supplements is actually quite easy. You do not need supplements in your diet to build muscle. In order to build muscle without supplements, you will need to plan your diet very carefully and prepare your meals in advance so you have your food readily available to you when needed.
While we hear there are so many positive benefits to taking sports supplements there are also a few reasons why you may not want to take them.
Reasons why you may want to avoid supplements:
- Sports supplements can be expensive even buying things like whey protein, and creatine can deplete your budget quickly.
- Many sports supplements are loaded with ingredients that your body does not need such as caffeine and added sugars.
- Contribute to weight gain, while some may think that taking a protein supplement will help improve your workouts and help you gain muscle many of them have unwanted calories that will also make you gain weight.
- They can cause issues with your health, its important to check the labels of the supplements you buy and ensure they come from a reputable company, some sports supplements have been known to causes issues such as kidney damage.
The best way to gain muscle without supplements is to eat nutrient-rich foods and train hard, believe it or not, you can make great gains with training and nutrition alone.
Building Muscle Without Supplements
Before we get into the topic of building muscle without supplements let me quickly explain to you why supplements can actually be helpful.
A lot of people that are new to weight training who are looking to build muscle jump to the conclusion that supplements are needed to build muscle.
Supplements are not needed but are extremely convenient.
Supplements are there to supplement your diet and help you reach your goals.
They are convenient and that is the main reason people and athletes use them. Consuming a scoop or two of protein powder mixed with water or milk is far more convenient than preparing a solid meal if you are at work or on the go.
Popular supplements include multivitamins, fish oil, protein powder, meal replacements, pre-workout supplements, and creatine.
Creatine and pre-workout supplements are geared more towards your training performance whereas the other supplements mentioned are designed to help you meet your diet and nutritional needs. Check out should I take creatine for more information on using creatine products in your training. Now that’s cleared up, lets take a look at what’s involved when building muscle without supplements.
1. Eat rich protein foods
Your diet will account for at least 50% of your results when it comes to building muscle. If you are not eating correctly you are wasting a lot of time in the gym. Sure you may see some results but these won’t last long if your diet is not up to scratch.
Your diet should consist of 4-6 high protein meals with moderate carbohydrates and low fats. Protein foods such as chicken, turkey, steak/beef, fish, eggs, whey protein, milk, etc should all be included in your diet to help you reach your protein requirements.
When looking to build muscle protein is an important nutrient that will help your muscles grow and recover. A lack of protein can hinder your results. So how much protein do you need to build muscle? At least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 150 pounds you need 150 grams of protein a day to build muscle mass. Better results may be seen with 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight but ensure you are getting in at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight for good results.
2. Keep a close eye on calories
You should be consuming around 300-500 calories over your body’s maintenance level in order to put on weight and muscle mass. If you’re not eating enough calories to put on weight and muscle you will not get any bigger. Simple. Find your body’s maintenance level of calories here. Add 300-500 calories to this number and consume this amount of calories each day to grow and build muscle mass.
3. Plan your meals
Planning your meals will be vital when building muscle without supplements.
Get a piece of paper and jot down a quick diet plan of what you will eat at certain times throughout the day. Have your meals and meal times all planned out and stick to it. Its always easier to stick to a plan than sticking to an idea that’s just popped into your head. Put your plan up on the fridge or in the kitchen somewhere to help remind you of what you will be eating that day and at what time.
Preparation and planning go hand in hand. Once you’ve planned and had a brief diet plan then you will need to prepare some of your foods in advance. For example, if you have an office job with the usual 9 to 5 hours, you are not going to be able to prepare your meals at work. In this case, you will need to cook your chicken and rice, etc the night before, and place your meals in Tupperware so you can consume them the following day at work. This way you will have all your meals readily available to you when you need them and don’t have to worry about the lack of food at work.
5. Get Up Early
Getting up early is a great way to get all your meals in throughout the day. Waking up late will mean you consume fewer meals and will struggle to meet your body’s calorie needs as well as your protein requirements. Getting up late can also make you feel less hungry throughout the day. Get up at a reasonable time and you will find it a lot easier to consume all your meals and will have a far more productive day. You should also sleep better as a result.
6. Weight Training
Get yourself on a proven weight training routine that builds muscle or an effective weight training split. Lift in the 5-12 rep range and work hard in the gym. Look to progress every workout whether you are increasing reps from the previous week or lifting more weight, push yourself to progress every workout. This is known as progressive overload and will build your muscle.
7. When your lifts stall switch things up
Change exercises, exercise order, or rep ranges. These will all help you if you ever encounter a weight training plateau.
A lot of people neglect rest but rest is a key part of anyone’s training. In order to lift heavy and build muscle, you need to ensure you get enough rest. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Preferably 8-10.
Your muscles grow and recover when we are asleep so don’t neglect it. Hit each muscle group hard once a week if you are on a split and space your workouts out so that muscle groups are not getting overtrained. For example, having a chest day followed by a tricep day is pointless. Triceps are worked hard on chest day so they need at least 24 hours break before being worked again directly.
Building muscle without supplements is probably going to mean you are going to be eating a lot more food.
Solid food is far better for you than consuming protein shakes or weight gainer shakes etc as solid food will provide your body with key vitamins and minerals. This is not to say supplements don’t have their place in your diet. A multivitamin in the morning and at night is a great way to get more vitamins and minerals into your diet. The same goes for fish oil. Fish oil tablets are great for getting your recommended amount of healthy fats in your diet if you struggle to get it from normal food.
Protein shakes are a great source of protein and are extremely convenient. If you find it hard to consume all your meals and meet your protein requirements then protein shakes can be used. Try eating three solid meals and 2 protein shakes in between those meals if you find it hard consuming so many meals.