Chris James’s diet for building muscle

I have an active job; thus, I burn a lot of calories in a day – around 3,000 to 4,000 depending on the exercise I choose to do.

I follow two basic diets all year round in regards to the quantity of calories that I consume.

  1. A muscle building diet where I have a calorie surplus (e.g. I expend 3,000 calories in a day and input around 3,400 calories)
  2. A fat loss diet where I have a calorie deficit (e.g. I expend 3,000 calories in a day and I consume around 2,500).

However, where these two diets are similar is with the quality of food. All I change is the amount I consume, rather than the type of food I eat. This allows me to have a relatively clean muscle building diet, even though I’m eating excess calories in total, and a fat loss diet that doesn’t eat away at too much muscle tissue.

The diet below is not for everyone as we all have different food preferences and calorie expenditures; but this is what I do when I do a 9.30am workout in a muscle building phase.


5.30am: BCAA tablet x 3 + 20g whey protein

6.30am: 120g (dry weight) porridge made with water, 20g micellular casein protein and a handful of almonds + 1 hardboiled egg + 1 apple + Omega 3 tablet + Multivitamins

9.00am: Grenade pre-workout shake with caffeine and BCAAs + 1 banana

9.30am: Workout – continue to consume Grenade during the workout

10.30am: 40g whey protein + 200ml skimmed milk + dextrose tablet + BCAA tablet x 3

11am: 200g white fish + 250g sweet potato/white potato mix + 100g broccoli

2pm: 200g roast skinless chicken + 3 x dark rye Ryvita + cottage cheese + a raw carrot + cherry tomatoes + broccoli + spinach + 1 hardboiled egg

5pm: 200g salmon fillet + 100g roasted vegetables + unlimited kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus + dressing of extra virgin olive oil

8pm: Homemade ProYo: 40g micellular casein protein + 150g Alpro Soya yoghurt (put in the freezer for an hour for ‘ice cream’ consistency) + tablespoon of peanut butter

(Drinks for muscle building diet is mainly water. I still have a black coffee, black tea or green tea for the caffeine boost some mornings, but caffeine raises the metabolism to burn more calories so I’d need to eat more if I have more caffeine).

This is an example of a day; there are small changes I can make based on what I fancy. I do add steak and smoked mackerel in a few times a week; I alternate my sweet potato and roasted vegetable portion with other complex carbohydrates such as brown rice or oats; and my post-workout higher GI carbohydrates can cycle between white potato, white rice, fruit and baked beans. Also, the timings and weights are not prescribed to the second or gram, but it’s the rough amount based on eating every 2-4 hours and using my trained eye to plate up my foods during the day.

I also include a treat meal once or twice a week where I eat what I feel like at the time. Treat time works with alcohol too but it is better to have food as a treat rather than alcohol as food calories provide your brain, muscles and bodily systems with some sort of nourishment, whatever the food, whereas alcohol does not. When I drink, I drink wine or sparkling wine. Whatever the treat is though, it goes in and it is enjoyed. The only proviso is that I have scheduled in the treat meal a few days in advance so that I look forward to it. However, with the above menu, I rarely need a treat. It’s so tasty and filling with sweet, savoury and salty that I never feel like I’m ‘on a certain diet’. It’s healthy, wholesome food that also helps you build muscle with the right workout program.

If you have any questions as to why I use certain foods, why I eat them at certain points in the day or some alternative suggestions for a personal meal plan for you, send me a message.

Chris James MA O.A. Dip

Director – Head of Fitness and Nutrition

Fitness Body Pro


Chris James
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