Muscle-building nutrition can be overwhelming at first. How much should you eat? What foods are considered “clean”? Why are paleo and vegetarian women both healthier than average despite having seemingly contradictory dietary restrictions? What supplements should you be taking? When should you be taking them? Do you even need supplements at all?

Luckily, nutrition can also be pretty simple if you focus on the fundamentals. There are just two factors that make the difference between gaining nothing or gaining half a pound of muscle over the course of the next week. But there are hundreds of things that make the oh-so-small difference between gaining 0.50 or 0.55 pounds of muscle. If you focus on the hundreds of small details you risk struggling very hard for progress that your scale won’t even notice.

This article is designed to help you go from gaining nothing each week to gaining half a pound each week. Keep in mind that building muscle becomes harder and harder as you become more and more advanced, so we recommend learning everything eventually, but there’s plenty of time for that later—once you’re already building muscle!

So. What are those two important factors? And how can you use them to consistently gain weight on the scale, get stronger, and build lean muscle?

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