Nutritional Tips for Muscle Growth
You want to build muscle, but you haven't seen any noticeable results. You've increased your calorie intake and you've been performing exercises specifically for muscle building. However, muscle growth is affected by the foods you eat, not just how many calories you take in. When muscle growth occurs, the mass, density, shape and function of muscle cells develop. Muscle cells contain proteins, which comprise about 20% of muscle. The other 80% of muscle contains water, phosphates and minerals. Therefore, if you want to build muscle, you'll have to consume foods that contain these essential elements.
1. Eat More Protein
Protein is the second most important nutrient for the human body, after water. If your diet is low in protein, it'll not only impair muscle growth, but it'll also impair muscle function and muscle strength. Eating the right amounts of protein is essential for muscle gain and weight loss. According to the National Academy of Sciences, everyone should get at least 15 percent of their calories from protein. However, you shouldn't exceed 35 percent.
To maximize your strength-building workouts, try to consume about 1.2 grams to 1.6 grams of protein per one kilogram of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, the amount of protein you should eat daily is 90 grams.
Now that you have an idea about how much protein you should consume, you may be wondering what foods contain high amounts of protein. These foods include:
- Meat: Chicken, turkey breast, salmon, tuna, pork tenderloin, tilapia, salmon
- Dairy: Eggs, skim milk, nonfat yogurt, low-fat cheeses
- Beans and legumes: soybeans, black beans, chickpeas
- Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal
- Vegetables: Edamame, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mushrooms
2. Increase Fat Intake
Even though limiting your consumption of saturated and trans fats can be good for your health, your body still needs healthy fats to boost metabolism and maintain hormonal balance, which are key factors in building muscle. This is especially true if you work out regularly because having a diet too low in fat can impede muscle growth. Some healthy fats you can include in your diet are avocado, greek yogurt, olives, dark chocolate and nuts.
3. Drink Tea
According to one study, tea improves muscle strength. As you age, inflammation can cause your muscles and bones to break down. The polyphenols, healthy compounds found in tea, reduces inflammation, which prevents this breakdown. It also improves muscular strength and bone mass. Another study confirmed the role tea plays in improving muscle strength and the function of bone-building cells.
The success of these studies shows that any foods and beverages that contain high quantities of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can play a significant role in improving bone and muscle mass.
You can also take a compound that's similar to tea called green superfood powder. This powder can improve the way the body processes sugar and carbs. As a result, you'll be better able to store more carbs as muscle energy, instead of storing them as fat.
4. Time Your Workouts
For optimal results, it's best to eat high-protein foods or drink beverages high in protein babout 20 minutes before your strength-training workout.Then, immediately after your workout, consume a high-protein food or drink. This is important because working out causes the muscles to break down. A high-protein food that contains carbs and nutrients will build your muscle mass more effectively.
5. Get Enough Calories
In an attempt to build muscle and reduce fat, your natural reaction might be to eat less. But this isn't always a good idea because your body needs fuel to keep going. When calories are low, your body will turn to the muscles for that fuel. That means if you don't eat enough, you won't be able to sustain muscle growth. As a result, your body will increase instead of decrease fat stores, which means you have a lower chance of building muscle.
Your diet is your main source of nutrition, so it makes sense that feeding your muscles with nutrients will promote their growth and strength.