Diet to gain muscle
How to Create a Diet to Gain Muscle
While we visit the gym for many reasons, one of the top purposes is hypertrophy or muscle building. Not only does muscle help us look good, it also contributes to fat burning and makes life easier by stabilizing the body’s joints. Weight-bearing exercises also improve bone density.
Yet building muscle isn’t as simple as picking things up and putting them down. A proper diet is required for your body to repair damage received during a workout, doubly so in the case of adding muscle.
For that, here are some great tips to implement into your regimen.
How Much and How Often Should I Eat?
Some of the first questions we tend are about how much food to eat and when to eat it. Fortunately, science has the answers: according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition, it’s best to distribute protein evenly throughout your meals.
In general, 25-30 grams of protein per meal is a good goal to shoot for as an athlete. But there are some other key points to remember.
- Consuming protein pre- and post-workout is important during the three to six-hour “window of opportunity.”
- Failure to consume protein after damaging muscles can result in muscle loss.
- Protein should be consumed before bed to avoid nighttime catabolism of muscle.
In fact, one of the best things to eat first thing in the morning or before bed is a sugar-free Greek yogurt. This will help stimulate anabolism while you sleep (the construction of new muscle) and prevent your blood protein levels from getting too low. If you go for a morning jog, eat after the jog.
There are many sources of protein, with some better than others. For instance, milk and its derivatives whey and casein are easily some of the best. Whey is high in leucine, an essential amino acid for building muscle (and a major limiting factor for those that don’t get enough). While it can be obtained in trace amounts through different plants, you may find yourself consuming excess calories.
Traditional staples such as chicken and fish are also good sources of protein, and in the case of fish, you’ll also be getting critical omega-3 fatty acids (one reason that salmon is the preferred fish). Nuts may also be used but generally tend to be higher in fats than in proteins, so be sure to read the label (peanut butter is surprisingly not the greatest choice).
Shoot for eating protein roughly every 3 hours. Protein powders are a good way to boost yourself on the go, but don’t avoid eating real meals. Remember to never skip breakfast, as it’s crucial in keeping your levels maintained (particularly after 6-8 hours of no protein consumption while sleeping).
Carbohydrates can be a sticking point for those trying to lose weight and build muscle. Aerobic exercises in particular demand more carbs than strength training, but you want to get the right kinds in either case.
Whole grain rice and pasta are great options for carb-loading, but should only be eaten by athletes pre-workout who are planning to sustain over 90 minutes of aerobic exercise. Those of us coming from office jobs to the gym needn’t consume tons of carbs and may even find the process counterproductive for losing weight and adding muscle.
One majorly overlooked area is the subject of carbs and sugars before bed. At all costs, you should avoid eating simple carbohydrates before sleep, as the spike in blood sugar stimulates the production of insulin which not only reduces your blood sugar but also reduces your blood protein. The combination results in actual loss of muscle while you sleep.
Tracking Your Diet
Keeping track of your diet doesn’t need to be in a composition notebook from Walmart. There are better options in apps for your phone or tablet; one of our favorites is MyFitnessPal, as you can add both foods and activities to its log. Fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Galaxy Gear, or the Apple Watch are exceptionally handy for cardio activities.
Healthy and Happy
Putting together an appropriate diet for muscle building will have lasting benefits. Besides helping keep that sexy look, you’ll avoid many chronic illnesses associated with muscle weakness and inactivity. Balancing your protein intake will help avoid muscle loss and promote growth.
Just be careful not to overdo things. Some athletes become overzealous in their protein consumption, which can lead to stone formation and kidney problems. Follow the simple steps above in conjunction with your personal trainer, doctor or nutritionist’s advice for maximum benefit and minimal risk.
About the Author: Diamond is a health enthusiast and technology specialist. One of her prime interests is in nutrition and how it can be used to better our lives, both recreationally and professionally.