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How to Eat for Lean Gains

Learn how to effectively maintain your bodyweight while gaining strength.

To effectively maintain your bodyweight while gaining strength and muscle in the gym you’ll need to know how to eat for lean gains.

We covered whether you can lose fat and gain muscle in depth in a previous article, but to give you an overview, it is generally very hard to do both at the same time without results coming slowly and being hard to notice.

Instead, what many (advanced) athletes do, is periodise their nutrition and training to include intentional muscle building phases and intentional fat loss phases.

If you’re not there yet, or if you structure your training differently, Jeff Nippard explains how to eat for lean gains here.

How to Eat for Lean Gains

When to do it

Nippard generally adds a “lean gains” phase between his bulking (muscle building phase) and cutting (fat loss phase) as a good transition phase to dial in the training while setting good, consistent nutrition habits.

He says eating for lean gains works best at a bodyfat between 12-20% and 20-30% for men and women respectively, so you have enough body fat to “fuel that energetically expensive muscle building process”.

Steps to follow

  1. Eat to calorie maintenance
  2. Eat high protein
  3. Focus on progressing with your training
meal for lean gainsSource: Brooke Lark on Unsplash

How to break down your calories

On a lean gains phase, Nippard recommends breaking down your calories as follows:

  • Protein: 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is enough to maximise muscle growth
  • Fats: 20-25% of total calories
  • Carbs: fill out the rest

He personally tries to evenly space out his protein intake throughout the day.

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