The Ultimate 7 Day Meal Plan for Muscle Gain (Easy to Follow!)

Did that ripped guy’s latest post finally convince you to get off your butt and start getting fit? It’s never too late, buddy!

But muscle gain is more than just lifting weight and stuffing yourself with fruits and veggies. One of the rookie mistakes I often notice — and have also fallen into before — when it comes to muscle gain is eating too little.

Nope, dieting and starving yourself won’t get you anywhere! You actually have to go on a caloric surplus or eat more than your daily caloric needs.

Now, maybe you’re wondering, “Isn’t that going to make me stray further from my goal?”

Don’t worry, because it won’t — in fact, it’s the key to muscle gain!

But, a caloric surplus doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want as long as you hit your target amount of calories. This is where a lot of people go wrong.

Most people fail at bulking because they fail to plan and do their research.

They think they can just eyeball and eat anything they want. Well, you will gain muscle mass with this approach, but you will most definitely gain fat in the process, too — and it ain’t gonna look good! What’s the use of building muscle when all of it is hidden underneath a layer of fat, right?

I fell into this trap, too. And, I surely didn’t get the results I wanted.

So, I tried every method and muscle gain meal plan I saw the experts are doing, to see which one would get me where I wanted.

It was a long and frustrating process. But, alas, I eventually found the right meal plan for muscle gain!

What’s the secret? I’m just about to tell you!

Table of Contents

  • Importance of Meal Prepping
  • Calories for a Lean Bulk
  • Meal Frequency
  • Meal Timing
    – Protein Timing
    – Carbohydrate Timing
    – Fat Timing

The Importance of Meal Prepping for Muscle Gain

Any successful diet starts with a solid plan. But, you need to follow through on that plan, of course.

A well-structured meal plan is just half of the equation. The other important half is following through.

Essentially, you’ll be preparing ahead all the food you’ll be eating for the week.

You can choose to cook everything in advance and simply reheat them. But, I prefer to do something better.

I prep my food raw. I don’t cook them. I just measure, slice, and portion my grocery haul into individual meals ready for cooking. This way, I have freshly cooked food every day.

If this is how you’d like to do it, you can cook them all at once in the morning. Or, you can cook them before every meal. It’s totally up to you.

Usually on Sundays, I buy meat, eggs, rice, potatoes, fruits, and veggies in bulk. Once I’m home, I whip out my food scale and measure the meats into my preferred portions. I vacuum seal them in bags and leave them in the freezer. 

A day before I cook them, I bring them down to the refrigerator compartment to thaw.

Calories for a Lean Bulk

Compute your target daily calorie intake by multiplying your body weight in pounds by 16. So, for a 180-pound man, that would be 2880 calories.

Although we don’t want to get fat while trying to build muscle, gaining a small amount of it makes bulking easier.

No, fat doesn’t make you build more muscle. But, gaining a little bit of it guarantees that you are getting more than enough nutrients to maximize muscle growth

How do you know if you are gaining more fat than what’s acceptable? Here’s how.

For lean bulking, shoot for a weekly increase of 0.5 to 1 pound of scale weight. No more, and no less. This range tells you that you are building muscle with minimal fat and water weight gain.

Meal Frequency

Since you’ll need to eat more than you are used to, the volume of the food you consume will increase. Some people do not like bulking because they have to eat even when they feel satiated and full. 

This is why I recommend eating 4 to 6 meals in a day. This helps you eat smaller meals, so you do not get an upset or bloated stomach after every meal. Gone are the days when you have to force-feed yourself or stuff yourself until you feel like exploding!

By splitting your meals more, you will feel hungry often compared to just eating three big meals. Hence, you will have more appetite with high-frequency meals. [1]

Also, this helps you digest and, therefore, absorb the nutrients you ingest better. 

Meal Timing

Protein Timing

The most important thing for your protein intake is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

This amount will allow you to build as much muscle as you can by increasing your hypertrophy and strength gains. [2]

You should have protein in every meal to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Aim for 30-60 grams of protein in your meals, along with a 4-6 meal frequency. [3]

Examples of great protein sources are fish, chicken, beef, eggs, milk, protein powder, and vegan sources if that’s how you roll.

Carbohydrate Timing

As for carbs, I recommend that you have most of them around your workouts.

Peri-workout carb consumption can boost your performance.

Why?

Because carbs fuel your muscles. And, if you have your glycogen stores full, you can push harder in the gym and elicit more muscle growth.

Post-workout, they replenish your glycogen stores. This is important because if your body runs out of it, it can burn your hard-earned muscle instead for energy production.

Another reason to eat your carbs in the meals around your training time is you partition nutrients favorably during this period.

Since your body needs the carbs to replenish its glycogen stores, the carbs you consume are less likely to be stored as fat.

Thus, timing your carb intake offers a huge benefit in terms of improving your overall body composition. It helps you build muscle while avoiding fat storage, both of which are the goals of a successful bulk.

Fat Timing

There isn’t really much to say about timing your fat intake. Although, I have one recommendation about when you should not consume your high-fat meals.

Limit your fat intake around your workout window. That is in the pre and post-workout meals.

Fat slows down food digestion and, therefore, nutrient absorption.

Since we want our carbs quick during the peri-workout window to fill up and replenish our glycogen stores, consuming high amounts of fat in the same meals will be counterproductive.

Grocery List for a Bulking Meal Plan

Now I know you have your preferences. So, I will be recommending a somewhat general list of things you should have in your grocery cart. 

Let’s break the items down into four categories: protein, carb, fat, and micronutrient sources.

Protein Sources:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken – breast or thigh (fillet and skinless)
  • Beef – ground (95% lean)
  • Salmon fillet
  • Milk
  • Protein powder
  • For vegans, find a meat substitute with complete proteins like sprouted brown rice and tofu

Carb Sources:

  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Oats
  • Starchy vegetables – potato, sweet potato, and corn
  • Fruits – bananas, apples, mangoes

Fat Sources:

  • Healthy Oils – extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, MCT oil
  • Nuts – almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios

Micronutrient Sources:

  • Lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, and pretty much any low-calorie veggie you prefer

7 Day Meal Plan for Muscle-Building

Don’t think of food as inherently good or bad. Focus on getting the right amount of calories and macros in.

You will be eating the same foods on a day-to-day basis. You’re free to play around with cooking methods and what you season your food with, but the ingredients should remain the same.

It’s easier to count your calories this way. 

For the purpose of coming up with an actual muscle gain meal plan, let’s take a 180-pound guy that’s looking to add more muscle to his physique.

Multiplying 180 by 16 gives us 2880. This figure will be the total amount of calories you would be shooting for if you weighed 180 pounds.

Meal TypeIngredientsProteinCarbsFatsCalories
Full Meal2 whole eggs 2 slices of toast 12 ounces of almond or low-fat milk28g24g27g379
Full Meal300g salmon fillet 1 cup of rice or 2 cups of potato34.5g47g15g474
Snack1 serving of protein shake / 1 whole apple25g28g1g215
Snack1 serving of protein shake / 1 large banana25g34g1g241
Pre-Workout250g ground beef / 1 cup of rice 57.5g46g11g530
Post-Workout300g chicken / 1 cup of rice61.5g46g2g473
Add to any mealVegetable salad~~~~50
Add to any snack1 ounce of mixed nuts5616175
For cooking your proteins, as salad dressing, mix with protein shakes3 tablespoons of healthy oils0040358
236.5g231g113g2895

Depending on how much you weigh, you will need to increase or decrease the total calories for your meal plan.

Don’t worry, there’s an easy way to adjust for this.

Simply adjust your protein, carbs, and fats equally — this is in terms of their individual calorie totals.

So, if you need to decrease calories by 300, then you’ll need to remove 100 calories from protein (25g), 100 calories from carbs (25g), and 100 calories from fat (11g). Got it?

Supplements for Better Bulking

Since you’ll be eating more than your body is used to, the first supplement I’d recommend is a digestive enzymes blend.

This will help you break down the surplus of food better, helping you maximize the nutrients for muscle-building and overall health.

Next, creatine is by far the best supplement you could take for mass-building purposes.

It has been shown to significantly increase muscular strength and hypertrophy. [4] If you plan on buying one, go for creatine monohydrate.

What to Avoid

Better stay away from foods that are: deep-fried, contain added sugars, or have processed carbs.

They are loaded with empty calories, hence, they are unhealthy food choices.

Not only that, but these types of food are also hyper-palatable.This means that they are very appetizing and tempting, that they can cause you to lose control over the amount of food you eat.

These can break your dietary discipline, and, thus, you end up sabotaging all the progress you would have made.

But, I totally get it that sometimes they’re really hard to resist. Or, maybe you’re in a situation where they’re the only choices you have.

Bottom Line

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

While I could have given you a different meal plan for every day of the week, it would be too complex to follow and be counterproductive to the goals of meal planning and prepping.

The easier and simpler things are to do, the more we tend to do them. And, when we do them enough, they become a habit.

What this muscle-building meal plan for beginners will help you with — besides hitting the correct macros and calories — is to develop compliance. And, compliance with your meal plan will help you get the physique you want.

But, I totally get it that sometimes they’re really hard to resist. Or, maybe you’re in a situation where they’re the only choices you have.

When you’ve consumed unhealthy food, please don’t give up and drop everything! Just shake it off and get back on track as soon as possible.

When was a healthy eating habit ever detrimental? Never.

For now, adopt the Jay Cutler motto of eating for function, not for taste. You can save the savory meals for the weekend barbeque, or a dinner date with your loved one.

Follow this 7-day meal plan for muscle gain along with the other information I have given you consistently, and you will be seeing gains in no time! Why not head out for a quick grocery run so you can jumpstart your muscle gain meal plan?

FAQs

1 – Can I gain muscle in a week?

Yes, you could. But, it won’t be significant enough to see just yet. Adding noticeable muscle mass takes time and diligence.

If you are a beginner, it is possible to see changes within a month of optimal training and nutrition.

2 – How many eggs a day should I eat to build muscle?

I recommend eating 2-4 eggs a day. Eggs are not only high in protein and healthy fats, they are also loaded with micronutrients. But, eggs alone won’t let you build muscle.

Building muscle requires a combination of resistance training, caloric surplus, and high protein intake.

3 – How many meals a day for muscle gain?

For muscle gain, I recommend eating 4-6 meals a day. While meal frequency does not directly influence muscle hypertrophy, having smaller meals means you get hungry quicker.

Thus, you have an increased appetite that helps you eat more and achieve a caloric surplus easier.

Imad Deryan

My name is Imad, and I struggled to gain mass in the past due to my metabolism and being very skinny. In this blog, I share the best reviews and advice when it comes to gaining weight and mass, for all the people that are struggling like I was.

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