How to Gain Muscle Without Gaining Fat

How to Gain Muscle Without Gaining Fat

If you are looking to gain muscle but worried that you might put on fat while doing so, we’ve got you covered. Lean bulking is a term that is often used to describe this method of growing muscle mass, without gaining fat.

In the fitness world, a good diet and nutrition plan is essential to ensure that you see the results you want. Gaining muscle can be particularly tricky; if your diet isn’t up to par, you may gain unwanted fat instead. This lean bulk guide will help you understand what’s expected on a lean bulk and how to go about it properly.

What is bulking?

Lean Bulk - gain muscle without gaining fat - oats

At it’s simplest, bulking is when you eat more calories than your body needs in order to build muscle. There are two common types; the dirty
bulk and the lean bulk. A dirty bulk is often accompanied by the unrestricted consumption of unhealthy, calorie dense foods. i.e. junk
food. A lean bulk, on the other hand, involves healthier, more wholesome foods and a gradual increase in weight. The purpose of a lean bulk is to gain muscle without gaining too much fat.

How much should you eat to gain muscle when lean bulking?

Lean Bulk - gain muscle without gaining fat - meat and rice

When bulking, you need to be in a caloric surplus, that is, eating more calories than your body needs to function regularly. A good rule of thumb is to increase your intake to 150-200 calories above your maintenance level, making sure to eat 5-6 meals a day. Your macronutrients would need to be adjusted accordingly. I’ve listed the recommended macronutrient amounts below, but if you aren’t keen on making multiple calculations, it’s best to use a comprehensive macronutrient calculator.

Protein on a bulk (1.5-2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight)

Protein is made up of amino acids which are needed to synthesize muscle. Our bodies need a constant supply, which is why you should have protein at every meal. If you struggle to meet your daily target, whey protein shakes are an easy way to get there.

Fat on a bulk (0.7-1.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight)

Our bodies need fat for a number of essential functions. These include the provision of energy, blood-glucose regulation and body temperature maintenance. Avoid unsaturated fats whenever you can and opt instead for healthier alternatives found in avocados, nuts and eggs. Basically, fats keep our bodies functioning properly, making it easier for us to push ourselves in the gym.

Carbohydrates on a bulk (the remainder goes towards calculating your carbohydrate intake)

Although they are often misunderstood, carbs are essential for fueling your workouts and generating muscle. However, it’s best to consume
most of them before and after the gym as this helps to minimize fat gains. The rest should be spread evenly throughout the day.

What should you be eating to gain muscle when lean bulking?

Lean Bulk - gain muscle without gaining fat -chicken and veg

In order to build muscle and minimize fat gain when bulking, you should aim to eat mainly complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. These are found in brown rice, sweet potato, vegetables, chicken, lean beef, avocados and peanut butter to name a few. I’ve listed some typical lean bulking meals below to help you get started.


Protein Oats made with IdealLean Butterscotch Protein Powder
Egg whites on toast


Boiled sweet potato, chicken breast and steamed vegetables
Brown Rice, lean beef mince and steamed vegetables


Chicken and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice
Lean beef with grilled potatoes and steamed vegetables


IdealLean Chocolate Brownie Protein shake
Toasted chickpeas

When lean bulking and trying to gain muscle, a good diet and nutrition plan makes all the difference. By eating healthy, wholesome foods and keeping track of your macronutrients, you’ll start to build muscle in no time.

Sophie Angell

Sophie Angell

Writer and expert

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