As the title states. Is it possible to gain muscle if for example I eat 80% of the recommended calories and protein etc.. and I don't eat before/after the gym would I ever build muscle?

I do follow the correct steps on most days but I'm wondering on days where I slack off is progress completely non-existent? Is it even worth going if you're not going to eat before and after?

Sorry theres a few questions merged into one.

  • 1
    Are you referring to the anabolic window "myth"?
    – Suimon
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 11:58
  • @Suimon - Not entirely a myth, but definitely misunderstood and misinterpreted. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905295 - Also, much of this comes out of the much proven enhanced uptake of glycogen with carb/protein mixtures after aerobic exercise. See the middle section where they noted increased muscle synthesis with a carb/protein mixture post exercise.
    – JohnP
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 23:20

2 Answers 2



There's progress and optimal progress. You may get faster results if you follow a strict, regimented schedule of eating vs training. There may be an ideal time to eat which will maximize muscle growth. You may calculate each macro of food down to the gram, even taking in to account TEF of the food.

But, we're human. We have jobs. We have social lives. It would be impossible to follow such a strict routine forever.

Ultimately, training is exploiting our adaptive capabilities for survival. Your body doesn't build muscle because you go to the gym. Your body builds muscle because, for some reason, you live in a world that involves a lot of heavy lifting. It builds muscle to adapt to this world to improve your chances of survival.

Humans didn't have the knowledge or ability to follow such schedules or diets until very recently. We ate what we had when we wanted. It would be an extremely inefficient survival mechanism if we completely lost progress because we didn't eat a whey shake after a workout.

There are, of course, limitations. Being 300 lbs. of pure muscle has its drawbacks, so it's going to be more resistant the heavier you go. So as you advance, you'll have to become more and more strict. For example, if you don't eat enough calories, muscle won't be built because muscle takes a lot of energy to exist, so you need energy to build it. If you don't eat enough protein, your body won't have the building blocks to create muscle. Once the basic things are mastered (which can take years), THEN meal timing can be helpful to really optimize progress.


Okay, two things:

  • Eating schedules and plans have almost no effect on anyone at the beginner or intermediate levels. Citations left as an exercise for the reader.

  • Not getting enough calories in total is much more likely to be a bigger deal, but even then, a few lean days won't impede anyone. But chronically not eating enough is probably the single biggest reason why people (beginners, intermediates) don't gain as much as they want.

  • 1
    So basically, just eat enough in general
    – Twyxz
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 7:19
  • 3
    "Citations left as an exercise for the reader" - That isn't how Stack Exchange works. You are expected to provide your own proofs, with quotes and links.
    – JohnP
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 23:21
  • Agreed with @JohnP, I would love to see some proof of the whole notion that eating plans have almost no effect on any beginner, because I would argue that they havea a massive effect on any person, both beginner and more advanced.
    – MJB
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 8:37

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