To gain muscle mass, many people train hard, but don’t give a heck about nutrition. Thus the time and effort they spend on training is frittered away. Why? Because gaining muscle brings to our mind images of numerous hours in the gym and nutrition is forgotten.
Do you know that you can retain / gain muscle mass with less training? The key element is nutrition! You need to know how nutrition works and how to make use of it for gaining muscles mass and remaining fit. The tips given here will work for everyone and anyone, whether men or women or whether it’s for general fitness upkeep or muscle mass gain!
Most of us understand the significance of protein in building muscles. The muscle building diet needs not only to include protein, but also to include amino acids, healthy carbohydrates, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
In this article you will learn not only what to eat to gain muscle mass, but also how and when to eat to build muscle mass, which is equally important to know.
What To Eat To Gain Muscle Mass ?
So, which muscle building foods yield the ideal balance of complete nutrition to increase your muscle mass and provide more strength:
1. Eat sufficient foods that provide maximum protein punch: The thumb rule is that you require between 1 and 1.5 times of your body weight in grams of protein. For instance, if your weight is 150 pounds, you are required to eat between 150 and 225 grams of protein a day if you desire to steadily gain muscle mass. However, full time body builders may eat between two to three times of their body weight in grams of protein, and sometimes more, but for most of you that would be overkill. For those who are overweight, take your target weight as base line and calculate your protin requirement accordingly. Include following foods that are packed with protein to boost your muscle growth:
(i) Poultry breast of skinless chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
(ii) Fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish, bass, trout, mackerel, etc.
(iii) Eggs, particularly egg whites. Although yolk is high in cholesterol, but one or two in a day is not unhealthy.
(iii) Red meat like lean beef, pork, lamb, etc.
(iv) Dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese, cheese, paneer (an Indian form of cheese), kefir/yogurt/curd, etc.
2. Choose complete proteins: To increase muscle mass, you should eat complete proteins. Complete proteins are available in eggs, meat, fish, cheese, milk and most of the other animal products. However, there are lots of non-animal products available, as well, that contain complete muscle mass proteins. That means even if you are a vegetarian, you can still put on muscle mass. The available options for complete vegetarian proteins include:
(ii) Beans, legumes, lentils, etc.
3. Eat foods that has high protein digestibility and Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS): PDCAAS is an indicator of how well various proteins are digested by the body, based on the solubility of the amino acids contained in the proteins. PDCAAS is a yardstick that grades the quality of a protein, with 1 being the highest and 0 the lowest. Here’s a rundown on some popular proteins considering their PDCAAS scores:
(i) Egg white, whey, soy, casein – 1.00
(ii) Beef, soybeans – 0.90
(iii) Chickpeas, black beans, vegetables, fruits, legumes – 0.70
(iv) Cereals and derivatives, peanuts – 0.50
(v) Whole wheat – 0.40
Note: Rotate your protein sources at each meal to optimize digestion and absorption.
4. Eat enough carbohydrates: It’s vital to include enough carbohydrates in “gain muscle mass diet” so that your body could draw out fuel from glycogen (energy) stores within your muscles while you are working out. If you do not eat adequate carbohydrates, your body will not have energy reserves and will break down your muscles instead! To build up muscle, your diet should include somewhere between 40% and 60% carbs or around 1500 calories in a day.
Carbohydrates have acquired wrongly a bad reputation from some dieticians. In fact, they play an important role in building muscle mass. As the complex carbohydrates are broken down at a slow pace and have a low-glycemic index (not as much sugar has), they are all right to eat after a workout, and especially at breakfast in the morning. The trick is to choose carbs having low-glycemic index that are healthier and emancipate their energy at a slow pace. Here are some examples of good complex carbohydrates:
(i) Rolled oats, oatmeal – For those looking to lose weight, and a constant source of carbs for muscle preservation
(ii) Brown basmati rice
(iv) Whole meal rye bread
(v) Whole meal spaghetti
(vi) Sweet potato
Note: Rotate your carb sources at each meal to prevent allergies.
5. Eat healthy fats: Many people shiver at the thought of eating fats. All fats are not bad. In fact, good fats are necessary for muscle growth. Good fats play an important role in hormones production (testosterone and growth hormones) that are vital for gaining muscle mass and strength. They boost up your metabolic rate as well, which helps in getting rid of more fats from your body. Moreover, fats are needed for necessary repair and maintenance functions. You should get between 20% and 35% of your calories requirement from good fats. Try to eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, as they are good fats. Some good fat examples are:
(i) Olive, flaxseed, peanut, sunflower, canola, and avocado oils.
(ii) Fish such as salmon
(iv) Flaxseed and pumpkin seeds
(v) Soy products like tofu or soymilk
Note: Rotate your fat sources each day to get a variety of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into your diet — walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, all nut butters, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, and a variety of seeds.
6. Avoid saturated and trans fats: These are the bad fats. Take care saturated fats add up to not more than 10% of your caloric intake, and that trans fats comprise up to not more than 1% of your caloric intake. Examples of bad fats are:
(I) Ice cream, candy bars, and packaged snack foods
(ii) High fat cuts of meat
(iii) Margarine, vegetable shortening, lard
(iv) Fried foods
7. Eat sufficient fiber: It is essential to include green vegetables in “build muscle mass diet”, like spinach or broccoli to make sure that you get sufficient amount of fiber and vitamins. Green vegetables are rich source of fiber that is necessary for getting rid of waste from your body.
8. Watch your salt intake: It’s true that extreme consumption of salt can cause hypertension, but while working out you lose fairly good amount of sodium when you sweat. Sodium (a key electrolyte) helps in muscle contraction that is why it is contained in many sports drinks.
How To Eat For Gaining Muscle Mass ?
1. Don’t miss your breakfast: Breakfast is undoubtedly the most crucial meal of the day besides your post-workout meal. Eating breakfast rich with protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber will kick-start your metabolism. It will also avert your body from breaking down your muscle for energy. This is a recognized fact since ancient times, as it can be seen from this very old proverb – “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. But there is one correction needed to be done here, as that you’re not on a diet, so you don’t need to be a pauper at any time!
(i) Make it sure to include enough protein into your breakfast such as omelets, shakes (or smoothies) and cottage cheese as they are big sources of protein.
(ii) Ensure to include complex carbs in your breakfast. Whereas simple carbohydrates like sugar and donuts are broken down easily at a faster pace and lead to sudden rise in your sugar levels, complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, bran, beans, whole grains) break down over longer periods of time and don’t cause any sudden rise in blood sugar.
2. Create an ideal calorie surplus: Maintain a small amount of calorie surplus. Thus you need to combine an increase in protein intake with an increase in calories intake as well. This is to ensure that all your efforts in works-out don’t work against you. You need to stock up sufficient fuel to burn that your body will require carrying on all your physical activities plus the work-out at gym. But take care not to build up so much calorie surplus that it gets converted into fat. You can calculate your ideal surplus of calories by calculating your maintenance calorie count, and your required surplus.
(i) Your maintenance calorie count is equal to average number of calories you require to intake in day for an average amount of energy output, in order to maintain your current body weight (in case of over-weight people consider the target weight). For those who are having healthy body weight, this is around 2000 calories.
(ii) Where as men should surplus about 250 calories in a day (resulting the total into 2250), the women should surplus about 150 calories in a day (resulting the total into 2125). Over the course of one week of muscle mass building exercise and eating good nutrition, this calories increase would translate into about 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of muscle-gain per week.
3. Eat what you like: Don’t get into an impression that a muscle building diet is very complex and has to very elaborate. Eating what you like, according to the parameters stated in the previous section, is the solution to gaining muscle mass consistently. If you’re going by too much of theory and not eating what you like, it will be tougher to consistently follow through with your such fixed or boring muscle mass diet.
4. Eat less food but more often: Eat more often but less, at regular intervals to not let you get so hungry that you gorge on foods when you do eat. Your body will be tuned to get hungry at the same predetermined intervals you do eat, if you keep up a consistent routine.
(i) For serious muscle mass building, try eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, post work out, before bed (at least one hour before going to sleep) and sneak in two snacks in between. Snacks can be in the form of anything such as nuts and seeds to sides of fruits and veggies.
(ii) But, if you are trying to increase muscles and lose weight or keep the same weight, don’t eat the before-bed meal. Eating right before you sleep at night will make the body to transform any not metabolized food into fat instead of energy or muscle, as the metabolism stops working right before bedtime.
5. Drink loads of water throughout the day: Dehydration can lead to measly muscle gaining, so ensure to drink plenty of water all throughout the day. Sip on water all thorough your workout. The suggested daily amount of water for men is about 3 liters (0.8 US gal) and for women 2.2 liters (0.6 US gal).
Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink. Continue with a steady supply of water going into your body, thus you won’t have to guzzle or gulp water when you feel thirsty or dehydrated, which risks upsetting your stomach during workouts.
Building Muscle Mass Tips
(i) Balance out your workouts and nutrition intake. If you are doing intensive workouts or aerobic activities of any kind and don’t eat commensurate muscle mass diet, you are bound to lose muscle mass and strength. Many people are unaware of this fact.
(ii) Don’t eat all of your protein or carbs in one meal; you must spread them throughout during the course of a day. Five or more small meals are best to have. The reason is if you eat all the protein in one meal, your body won’t be able to use all of it. The trick is to maintain a high blood protein level so as to allow your muscles to regenerate slowly during the course of whole day, and night as well when you are sleeping.
(iii) Make it a habit to drink plenty of water all through the day as this will prevent your “muscle building foods” from doing any harm to your organs.
(iv) Never be tempted to take steroids, even if it’s taking too much time to gain muscle. Steroids are harmful and have many side effects.
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