A balanced diet is necessary in order to build lean muscle mass. Sound nutrition and supplementation are essential for providing the energy needed to get through rigorous workouts. Here are the foundational principles of supportive nutrition:
- Time your meals around your workouts
It is better to eat for what you are going to do, not for what you have already done. In other words, it makes more sense to get your calories before your workouts, not after. By getting a large portion of your meals before you hit the gym, you will utilize your stored energy more efficiently.
- Ditch the low-carb diets
Unless you want to look like an anorexic runway model, say good-bye to the harmful Keto Diet. Carbohydrates just happen to be the main source of energy for your muscles. You won’t have a very good workout if you are half-starved of essential nutrients.
Opt for low glycemic carbs that have a longer lifespan for providing energy. Foods such as brown rice, whole grains, beans, and oatmeal are best.
- Eat quality proteins
Lifting weights causes micro-tears at the mitochondrial fibers of the muscle. When those tiny cracks heal, your muscles will recover stronger, and sometimes larger.
You can speed this process along by utilizing enough protein in your diet. By eating enough quality animal proteins such as fish, chicken, and lean beef, you supply your muscles with essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s), which are the building blocks of protein metabolism.
- Protein supplementation is a must
Certain types of animal meat, especially red meats, can contain high levels of saturated fats. Also, it has become problematic in recent years to consume too much animal protein. For example, some animals contain harmful contaminants such as hormones, antibiotics, parasites, and bacteria.
This is why it is so important to utilize a high-quality protein powder during your muscle-building program. The best type of protein is whey, which is utilized in the body more effectively than soy. However, there are those who cannot digest whey protein and may get an upset stomach from using it. In this case, soy is the next best solution.
Choose a whey protein powder that has a good BCAA profile, meaning that it contains at least the essential amino acids. Start with about 0.5 grams per pound of body weight to start. As your muscles get bigger and stronger you will need to increase the dosage.
- Don’t neglect your fruits and vegetables
Taking in higher levels of protein can have consequences for your digestive system. This is where foods that are high in fiber can help. By getting enough fruits and vegetables, you not only increase fiber intake, but you also provide your body with essential nutrients that are critical for protein metabolism.
Low-sugar fruits such as apples, oranges, and pears are a good choice, especially for breakfast or a quick snack. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and kale provide the vitamins and minerals necessary so you can push through a hard workout.
The bottom line
Nutrition is responsible for nearly 70% of your success in the gym. By having a balanced diet utilizing the proper mix of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, you give your muscles the food they need to grow big and strong!