Personal Trainer Myths: Nutrition Isn’t Important for Muscle Building

It’s not that coaches and trainers are actively saying that eating specifically to gain muscle is not important; it’s that we’re doing a piss-poor job of emphasizing how important that it is. In that, the predominant amount of articles on hypertrophy training fail to even mention the fact that if you’re not consuming a caloric surplus, your body will lack the energy required to build that muscle you’re training for. And, this isn’t personal opinion; this is the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed (conservation of energy), only changed from one form to another.

In other words, when we rarely if ever mention the importance of eating to build muscle it perpetuates the myth that it’s not a very important component to successful muscle building. And, I’m one of the worst (repeat) offenders of perpetuating this myth, as I’ve written extensively on muscle building and none of my articles even mention the fact that you’ve got to be eating more calories than you burn each day in order to build muscle size.

Of course, the key to eating for muscle building is to keep one’s caloric intake in a range that’s high enough to promote muscle development but not so high to promote additional bodyfat. It’s also important to make sure that most of the calories you consume come from whole foods, as you can be overfed and still be undernourished from eating mostly foods with little nutritional value.

C’mon, Nick! The importance of nutrition for muscle building goes without saying!

Now, you may be thinking that there is no need to mention the importance of proper nutrition (i.e. eating more calories than you burn) for muscle building in these hypertrophy training articles because everyone already knows that, therefore it “goes without saying.”

Well, that’s exactly what I thought while writing all of my muscle building articles, which is why I didn’t bother to mention the nutritional component in any of them. But then I realized how logically inconsistent I was being with that thought process. In that, any time I’ve ever written about training for fat loss, I’ve always made it a point to emphasize the fact that the fat loss training concepts and techniques I’m providing won’t do you much good if you’re not eating a caloric deficit (i.e. eating less calories than you burn each day) so your body has to burn from its fat stores. Again, it comes back to that pesky 1st of law of thermodynamics.

In other words, why would I feel that the importance of nutrition for fat loss success must be said in every fat loss training related article, but think that nutrition for muscle building “goes without saying” and leave it out of every hypertrophy training related article?

Furthermore, if one still doubts my assertion that people heavily associate diet with fat loss training, but not with training for hypertrophy because it’s rarely mentioned in muscle building articles: One need to look no further than the forum comments regarding fat loss training articles vs. hypertrophy training articles. You’ll repeatedly see that if a coach writes a training article about fat loss without mentioning anything about diet they’ll get crucified on the comments thread. Yet, when a coach writes a training article about muscle building without mentioning anything about nutrition, no one seems to give a damn.

This reality is a glaring example of the double standard in thinking that eating properly for muscle building isn’t as important as eating properly for fat loss.

Don’t get it twisted!

I’m certainly not saying that every article on muscle building has to go through a full comprehensive diet plan, as that’s unrealistic because it’s beyond the scope of training specific articles. Plus, that’s why we have nutrition specific articles. Not to mention, that fat loss training articles don’t provide comprehensive diet plans either.

All I’m saying is that we need be consistent with emphasizing the importance of eat a caloric surplus to gain muscle, just like we emphasize the importance of a caloric deficit to lose fat. By doing this, we 1) don’t leave the possibility of creating or feeding into the false beliefs that any muscle building program will work without the necessary complimentary nutritional habits, which 2) will give people the clear direction that they must to seek out nutritional focused resources so they have both pieces of the muscle building puzzle.

Speaking of getting the nutritional piece to the muscle building puzzle: I recommend picking up Brad Scheonfeld’s book: The MAX Muscle Plan, as it provides very comprehensive recommendations for both nutrition and training to maximize muscle development.


Check out my second installment to this Personal Trainer myths series covering the myth that there are Best Exercises for Building Muscle Mass.

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