Understanding the Link Between Nutrition and Building Muscle from Online Dietitian Group


Protein is a key piece of strength training, and many athletes understand the importance of how much they should consume. That said, there are other nutrition factors that are often overlooked. It seems like the media perpetuates the idea of hyper-protein diets for those who want to build muscle, but too much protein is not only unnecessary but also unhealthy. Consuming excess protein can lead to gut health problems, bad breath (ketosis), and excess urination. The key to a healthy diet is balance.

Everyone, regardless of their fitness level, requires sufficient calories, carbohydrates, and fats to function and build strength. As we age, building and maintaining muscle becomes more challenging. But with the right exercise and diet, it’s possible to maintain and even build muscle. Therefore, it’s essential to engage in strength training at least twice a week.

Now, where do carbohydrates, fats, and calories come into the picture?

Carbohydrates are crucial for muscles. When we consume complex carbohydrates like whole-grain pastas and rice, quinoa, fruits and vegetables, pulses, our muscles receive the necessary fuel they need to function. It’s important to note that carbohydrates, not protein, are used to lift weights. Individuals who engage in strength training twice a week should aim to get at least half of their daily calories from carbohydrates. However, it’s recommended to avoid high-fiber carbs an hour before weight training.

Fats are also necessary for our bodies to function well. Saturated fats, found primarily in animal products and coconut and palm oil, are fundamental for various body functions, including the construction of cell membranes, organ padding, hormone production, and immune function. On the other hand, unsaturated fats found in avocado, nuts, fish, and the Mediterranean diet are essential for building cell membranes, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and reducing inflammation. Fats should constitute 25 to 30% of total daily calories. However, it’s important to steer clear of trans fats.

Finally, let’s talk about calories. Each person’s caloric needs differ depending on their age, gender, size, activity level, and metabolism. The body is a remarkable machine that uses only what it needs. Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain. To avoid overeating, it’s crucial to eat until you feel full and stop eating when you’re satisfied. The more active you are, the more calories you’ll need.

To build muscle, it’s critical to engage in strength training and fuel your body with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and calories.

Here’s a recipe that can help you build muscle:

Grilled Chicken Breast with Quinoa Salad


  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill the chicken breast for 5-6 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and feta cheese.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper.
  6. Drizzle the dressing over the quinoa salad and toss to combine.
  7. Serve the grilled chicken breast with the quinoa salad.