Why is this? Why do they fail to see muscle growth despite the fact that they’re working hard in the gym? The primary reason is because they’re missing one of the biggest links in the equation to success – nutrition.
If your nutrition isn’t correctly in place, you are definitely not going to be seeing the results that you had hoped for. It’s that simple. Nutrition can account for up to 80% of the total results you see from your muscle building program.
Think of it this way. Could you build a house without bricks? Clearly not. You could swing some hammers around all day long but if you didn’t have wood or bricks, you just wouldn’t get very hard.
Think of food as the building materials for your body. If you want to build more muscle tissue, you need more food. If it’s not provided, it’s not happening. You can’t build something out of nothing. With this said, let’s go over the main nutritional principles you need to know to build lean muscle mass tissue.
A Calorie Surplus
The very first must-have is that calorie surplus. You do need to be careful here though because if you eat too much, you will start gaining excess body fat. Remember that your body can only build so much muscle in a day, so if you’re eating way over and beyond your needs, you’re going to be seeing fat gain along with that muscle. That energy has to go somewhere so fat storage will be its fate.
Most people who are looking to build muscle should eat around 16-18 calories per pound of body weight. If you lead a very active lifestyle, such as if you’re on your feet moving all day with your career, then you should take that up to 18-20 calories per pound. Or, if you’re someone who’s naturally very thin, then chances are this higher calorie intake will also be required for you to see results.
This intake will provide a modest calorie surplus so should have you gaining muscle at around half to one pound per week. This is where you want to be in order to prevent fat gain from occurring.
Second, you also need to make sure you’re eating enough protein. Protein is what supplies the building blocks for the muscle cells, so if you’re not eating protein, you also aren’t making progress.
You should aim for around one gram of protein per pound of lean muscle mass every day. This will make sure that you are getting enough.
Also keep that protein coming from lean and healthy sources as well such as chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs and egg whites, fish and seafood, low fat dairy products, as well as whey protein powder.
If you can stick to these sources, you’ll build better quality lean muscle tissue.
Carbohydrates are also part of the equation when it comes to building muscle because these will not only provide the energy to get through your workout sessions, but they’ll also make sure you stay in an anabolic environment primed for muscle growth. Cut back your carbs too hard and you may start to become catabolic in nature, meaning tissue is broken down.
You should put about half of your carbohydrate intake right around the “Pre” and “Post” workout period since this is when your body needs those carbs the most. They’ll immediately get used for muscular energy during the workout and then also get used for muscle repair and rebuilding after the workout is completed.
Do try and stick to healthy sources of complex carbohydrates as often as possible. This means choosing foods such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, barley, oatmeal, and very grainy breads. These will help keep your energy stable throughout the day, rather than you suffering from highs and lows.
Serve up a few pieces of fruit each day to help boost your vitamin and antioxidant intake and also be sure to get some vegetables in place in your main meals as well. Don’t go overboard with vegetables however as it may make it hard to meet your daily calorie needs. They do tend to fill you up quickly, so you need to be aware of this.
Try and structure your diet so that the more energy dense carbs (complex and fruit carbs) are focused around when you’re most active and vegetables are focused around when you’re gearing down for the day and don’t need that immediate source of energy.
Finally, healthy fats are also a necessity if you want to see great muscle building process. Eating a good intake of healthy fats will help to keep your testosterone levels where they need to be and will also help to boost your calorie intake upwards to support your growth needs.
Healthy fats are more calorie dense than any other food, so are a quick way to increase your intake if you are struggling to do so. Place healthy fats in all meals apart from the pre and post workout meal, which you want to be lower fat in nature.
Also be sure that you stay to the healthy sources of fat over the non-healthy sources. This includes foods such as nuts and natural nut butter, seeds, olive and safflower oil, coconut and extra virgin coconut oil, flaxseeds, avocado’s, and fatty varieties of fish.
If you eat these more often and avoid trans fats found in processed and fast foods along with saturated fats found in high fat meat and dairy foods, you’ll support your health as well as a lean body composition.
So keep these quick tips in mind as you go about your diet plan. If you structure your diet wisely, you can feel confident that the time you spend in the gym will pay off in the form of faster results and a brand new muscular body.
If you missed Part 1, click here : HOW TO DESIGN A WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAM FOR GROWTH – MUSCLE GROWTH PART 1
If you missed Part 2, click here: POST WORKOUT SHAKE AND REST – MUSCLE GROWTH PART 2
About the Author
Martin Bolduc is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Express Fat loss” and the winner of the Lean Body Challenge 2008. Martin is a Certified Personal Trainer ACE and Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. He is a natural bodybuilder in the INBF. Martin helps hundreds of clients to reach their fitness goals.
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