You want it: that makes-your-shirt-tight, OMG-he's-huge, pecs-popping, ripped-to-shreds chest. Once you've scoured the web for workouts and have the perfect flyes + bench formula figured out, you might think you're ready to build it. Guess what? You're forgetting something: nutrition.

Without proper nutrition, a chest plan would never be complete. You can spend hours in the gym, but without the raw materials, building muscles after you've broken them down just isn't gonna work. You'll have to resort to pec-implants to boost that A-cup, bro!

To build bigger pecs, you'll need a calorie surplus and the right division of carbs, proteins, and fats. Add some smart meal timing to accelerate the rate of growth, and you'll have yourself a killer program.

More Calories = More Mass

If you want a bigger chest, you need to eat more. Most active men need 15-to-17 calories per pound of body weight for maintenance. To build one pound of muscle mass per week, you'll want to add 3,500 total calories into your weekly diet. (Why? 3,500 calories = 1 pound)

There are multiple ways to add these calories. For example, 500 extra calories per day adds 3,500 per week. Or, if you're really focusing on chest growth, you might train your chest across multiple sessions per week. If you do three chest workouts per week, you could aim to place 700-1,000 of those calories in the first two meals after each chest workout.

Eating after a tough workout ensures that your muscles never 'go hungry.' Because your protein intake probably won't vary much between bulking and maintenance diets, most of these extra calories are going to come from carbs. Some additional healthy fats are fine, but keep them out of your post-workout meals.

Nutrient Treasure Chest

Your macronutrient split won't take too much tweaking. Your protein intake should be set relatively constant, at one gram per pound of body weight, regardless of your goal. You can up it to 1.2-1.5 grams per pound on your chest days, but you won't need significantly more protein than that.

It's better to up your carbohydrate intake for optimal growth. You don't need to go overboard, or start eating a cinnamon roll every day, but sufficient carbs will keep your body in an anabolic state and provide energy to fuel and refuel your intense workout sessions.

If you aren't eating sufficient carbs, you may feel drained and sluggish during your workouts. That means you won't be able to give the right amount of effort for optimal chest growth.

There's no hard and fast rule for carbohydrate and dietary fat intake, but most men looking to build mass and strength will do well with 150 or more grams of carbs per day. On those tough chest workout days, you can even increase your carb intake to 200 grams. Dudes who are already taking in some serious calories can further increase their carb intake to 250-to-300 grams per day. Not everyone has the exact same body, so not everyone will have the exact same diet.

15 percent of your total calorie intake should be healthy fat. Fats are vital to keeping your muscle-building hormones optimized to ensure that your chest workouts pay off. If you start to reduce your dietary fat intake too much, it could cause your testosterone levels to plummet, inhibiting muscle growth and recovery. (Healthy fats provide a number of other benefits, too, so don't be afraid of them!)

Will Chest For Food

Don't let the fact that you're 'bulking' make you think you can fill your diet with whatever you want. If you consistently put highly-processed, sugary food into your body, you're not going to feel well and you will gain more fat than muscle.

Choose lean protein sources like chicken, lean beef, fish, egg whites and whey protein. Your carbs should be complex and come from brown rice, sweet potatoes, barley and oatmeal. You'll still need fruits and veggies. To get good fats, consume plenty of flaxseeds, fish oil, avocado, nuts and natural nut butter.

Avoid foods with trans fats or excessive saturated fat. They don't support lean body composition. Some saturated fat is okay to include and even beneficial for testosterone levels, but it shouldn't overtake your unsaturated fat intake.

Sample Meal Plan

A 180-pound guy looking to add some mass to his chest should eat something like this on his workout days:

Egg Whites
Whole Wheat Bread
1 slice
Peanut Butter
1 tbsp
1 cup
Greek Yogurt
3/4 cup
Peanut Butter
3 tbsp
1 can
Pasta (whole-wheat)
2 oz dry
Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup
Olive Oil
2 tbsp
Green Salad
1 cup
Protein Powder (whey)
1 scoop
Bagel (with jelly)
Protein Powder
2 scoops
Waxy Maize
2 1/2 scoops
Chicken (grilled)
4 oz.
1 cup
Olive Oil
1 tbsp
Before Bed
Cottage Cheese
1 cup
1/2 cup
Almond Butter
2 tbsp

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark is a freelance health and fitness writer located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

View all articles by this author