Massive gains in the gym come from a lot of sweat and hard work, but if you think all you have to do is lift heavy, you’re dead wrong.
Knowing how to fuel your body is key to muscle growth. With these easy-to-follow tips, you’ll be well on your way to looking bigger, stronger and more muscular!
Quick question: Are you trying to build muscle? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, these days it seems like everyone is trying hard to eat a lot healthier and live healthier with fat loss and muscle gaining being the main reasons for this new focus. If you’re going to the gym everyday to work off weight and add muscle, or even if you’re just trying to bulk up, there are a few things you should never forget.
Taking care of your body by living and eating healthy is one thing, but if you’re doing it wrong you could be causing your body more harm than you might think. Our bodies are ready to be pushed, but, without proper nutrition, none of that hard work will pay off. Here are some tips to help you through the process of muscle gaining.
#1 Protein, Protein, Protein!
It cannot be stressed enough how important protein is for your muscles. The minimum intake for protein for any individual looking to lose fat and build muscle is about 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound of body weight, but if you’re looking just to gain more muscle you’ll need to take in about 0.8 to 1 gram a day.
Of course, this does vary with different types of bodies so be sure to start out at a smaller amount and work your way up. Too much protein can lead to your body breaking down and storing that protein as excess fat.
#2 Complex Carbs Are Good Carbs
A lot of times when we start working out, we are told to stay away from carbohydrates. But, if you want to spend hours in the gym, complex carbs are a great way to help your body have more energy to burn. Our bodies need about three grams of these good carbohydrates a day when performing high-intensity muscle training.
Complex carbs can include things like yams, brown rice, oatmeal and other slow-burning carbs. The bad types of carbohydrates are called simple carbs, which have a lot of sugar and therefore burn up incredibly fast, and these types of carbs should be avoided before any workout to ensure that your body can push itself for as long as you want.
#3 Consume Healthy Fats
Fat is a word that a lot of people try to stay away from, but what many people don’t know is that there are different types of fats in foods. Some are good and part of a very healthy diet. Others are not.
Unsaturated fats like those found in nuts and avocados should be at least 15% of your diet because while trying to build muscle, omega 3 fatty acids are your friends. Remember to stay away from saturated and trans fats, which can increase the risk of heart problems.
#4 Fiber Is Your Friend, And So Are Fruits And Vegetables
A lot of bodybuilders forsake fruits and vegetables for more meat and more protein, but keep in mind that protein isn’t the only thing that will help you see gains. Fiber is an important part to muscle building, especially when you are going to be eating so much protein.
Try to eat five or six servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit that could come out to be about 30 grams of fiber in a day. If you can’t do this, look into supplements that will help you get all the fiber that you need.
#5 You Need To Eat Your Breakfast
Throughout life, we are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well if you’re trying to gain muscle or lose body fat, then you need to take that lesson to heart.
Starting off your day with the right foods makes it a lot easier to continue eating that way throughout the day as well. Protein, vitamin C and a lot of other good things that come with a big breakfast can wake your body up in the morning. It is an easy way to fuel your body before you have to do any work.
#6 Eat All Your Meals Throughout The Day
It can be tough to get all the protein and carbs that you need in a day if you are only eating three meals. If you are achieving it, more power to you. But, you might want to take a look at a different way to approach eating.
When training, our bodies need a lot of different things, and if we just eat three meals the things we need might be used up before our workout. You should be aiming for at least five meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as two healthy low-calorie and low-fat snacks.
By eating more than three meals a day, you can spread out the intake of your protein, carbs, and fiber into more realistic meals. This constant supply of calorie intake will also help with your metabolic rate.
#7 Drink A Lot Of Water
You could drink up to a gallon! Water is good for you to be drinking on a regular basis, but it’s even more important when you are training or regularly working out. Drinking at least one gallon of water throughout the day is highly recommended while on a high protein diet.
#8 Take Multivitamins And Antioxidants
There are tons of benefits from taking multivitamins and antioxidants. Aside from the fact that they will keep you healthy while heading to the gym everyday, these will also help keep your micronutrients in check.
Needless to say, multivitamins are also a great way to ensure that you are getting your recommended daily vitamin intake. Just try to take your vitamins with your meals for optimal results.
#9 Pre And Post Workout Meals
The word meal is a term to be taken lightly here. In this case, many would suggest a liquid intake of about 200 calories before you workout. Some believe that working out on an empty stomach is the way to go, but if your body doesn’t have enough energy inside of it to burn, your muscles will become tired more quickly. And, that will only serve to make your workout shorter.
Immediately after your workout look to consume 20 to 50 grams of protein to provide your body with the healthy types of things it needs to repair torn muscle and build it up to where you want it to be.
An hour or so after your workout is when you need to have a large solid-food meal. This meal, like breakfast, is so important for your body to fully recover after an intense workout. Eating foods like potatoes, pasta and rice will help tremendously if you’re in a mass-building phase. But, if you’re in a cutting phase, stick to vegetables and small portions of things like yams and brown rice for slower-burning carbs.
#10 Never Be Hungry
When you’re muscle gaining, being hungry should be a sign that you aren’t having enough calories. If you’re working out at your maximum, your calorie counting should reflect that. And, if you don’t take in enough calories, this can be very dangerous and result in feeling faint and not being able to finish a workout.
Even if it seems like you don’t need that extra meal, try to fit it in. If you’re just beginning, protein shakes and vitamins are your best friends.
#11 Have A Cheat Day
This isn’t so much a rule as it is a strong suggestion. Everyone needs a day where they can rest and indulge in a huge juicy cheeseburger and fries, or whatever your favorite snack may be. Although for the most part you should stay away from processed foods and sugars, everyone needs to have one day off where it doesn’t matter what you eat.
In the beginning of your new approach to diet and nutrition, this cheat day will help get you through the week. At some point, that will change. If you’re truly into what you’re doing to help your body, you’ll be shocked to see how much you don’t like unhealthy food anymore. That whole bag of buttered popcorn or fatty chocolate cookies won’t make you feel as good as it once did. This is important for your mind to register that eating healthy makes you feel better. So let it happen!
#12 Don’t Dread Eating Out
The biggest problem with eating out is food prep. You don’t know how they fix their veggies, or if they put anything extra fattening on your main course. Just ask! It isn’t a big deal.
If they load up their veggies with butter for extra flavor, then ask for no butter. Tell them you don’t want the gravy or just make them put it on the side. Also, sticking to grilled or broiled meats is best when eating out.
#13 Look Out For Unwanted Fat During Cooking
Do you really need to drizzle olive oil or add a dab of butter to your potatoes? It might be tempting to add a bit more flavor to your food, but just because you are eating healthier doesn’t mean you need to forsake delicious meals.
There are plenty of other ways to make your food delicious without loading them up with unneeded fats. Grilling, for example, is a great way to have any meat. Just be sure to trim the excess fat off of any meat.
#14 Plan Ahead!
It might seem like a big deal to plan ahead, but you should go to the store and buy enough meat and veggies for the week. Just be careful! To the uninitiated, this can result in huge overeating or under eating.
Make a plan of each meal and every workout that way if something goes wrong you can look back and see what happened. It will also help with keeping track of money. Why? Eating a lot of meat can be hard on the wallet, but if you plan ahead, it’ll make buying in bulk a lot easier and cheaper.
#15 Learn From Your Body
Learning what your body needs at certain times is very important. While most of the ideas on this list are a healthy way to go about gaining muscle, everyone’s body is different and the impact of workouts, food intake, and nutritional advice may vary.
Be sure to know what your body does when you eat good carbs as opposed to bad carbs and how it will affect your workout before, during and after. It may not be common, but while one food may give you a boost of energy, it may take energy away from someone else!
These are only a few tips that will help you build muscle. It is very important that you eat at least three standard meals and two snack-sized meals every day. You need this to fuel your body and give it the opportunity and tools to build muscle. Be sure to also consume lots of water and protein. And, don’t overdo it in the gym. Your body builds muscle during periods of rest. If it’s always under attack in the gym, your body won’t have the opportunity to rest and repair. Stick with these tips and you’ll soon find a better, bigger and healthier version of yourself the next time you look in the mirror.
By Becky Bickel
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