If you want to gain size though, you need to eat both healthy and smart. But how can you eat enough and yet avoid eating too much which just leads to additional fat growth? Today we are going to explore some healthy dinner ideas.
Don’t worry at all because we have the healthy dinner ideas you can use not only for dinner but just about any time of the day.
Best of all, with our tips, you won’t go to bed feeling hungry.
What Kind of Nutrition is Needed For Muscle Gains?
Here’s the thing.
You can go to a hundred different websites, pick up a dozen different books and ask the giant, buff guys at the gym what to eat for dinner for muscle gains.
You’ll probably land a few solid meal ideas and then head off to the grocery store.
But there’s a problem here.
If you don’t know what it takes for muscle gains you’ll end up eating the same three or meals over and over.
It’s the whole give a guy a fish vs. teach a guy to fish kind of thing. You’re more than welcome to check out these different meal option sites and books, but before you do any of that, you need to know what kind of nutrition is needed for muscle gains. This way you can not only take the healthy dinner ideas we give you and those you find from other sources, but you’ll be able to make your own meals using these guidelines.
Chances are, you already know about protein.
After all, the first thing you see when walking into the supplements section of the grocery store is row after row of protein powder. Now, the amount of protein you should intake varies depending on who you ask.
There is a definitive set amount of protein your body can take in (especially when first starting off) so it is possible to simply eat too much and pass the rest through. That ends up just being a waste of money. Some trainers will tell you to focus around .75 grams of protein per pound you weigh, while others will tell you to shoot for 1.5 grams (Muscle and Fitness, 2014).
We’ll go into more depth on protein in the next section, just because you’re going to hear so much from so many different sources. So while you wait on how much protein is necessary for gains, let’s look at the other required building blocks.
With the exact amount of protein on hold until the next section lets look at carbs. Carbohydrates often receive a bad rap. This is because most people giving it a bad wrap take on simple carbs from too much sugar.
However, the fact of the matter is carbs are stored in your muscles as a form of glycogen.
This helps increase the size of your muscles and gives you energy. This isn’t to say you need to over-carb though. If you are simply going for massive size gains, shoot for around 2-3 grams of carbs per pound. If you want to put on both size and stay cut though, you’ll want to reduce, go low carb and focus on protein. You won’t gain as much muscle size, but you will still get bigger without putting on some carb weight (Muscle and Fitness, 2014).
If you’re going for pure gains, you want around 20% of your daily calories to come from fat.
This is one of those lines where if you’re going for a shredded but growing muscles look you might want to avoid. However, when it comes to pure muscle gains, 20% or so of fat calories can help boost your testosterone levels, which increases muscle gains.
While you shouldn’t stray any further than 30% if you’re going for pure gains, you’ll see a desirable improvement in muscle production when staying in the 20-30% range.
So What’s the Deal With Protein?
Every diet magazine, workout website and muscle guy at the gym is going to tell you something different, so protein intake levels can prove extremely difficult to understand.
You know you need protein, but how much protein should you intake, and is it possible to consume too much?
When speaking with The New York Times (2016), registered dietitian and exercise physiologist stated the body can only process around 20 to 40 grams of protein per meal (most protein powders hit at around 30 grams, per serving, so you should be good). He went on to say that even if you consume 300 grams a day, it doesn’t give you more muscle growth potential than if you take in 120 grams.
Beyond the body’s ability to process only a set amount of protein per meal, there may be consequences of going overboard with protein intake. This is because of the kidneys process all of this, so consuming 60 grams of protein every time you eat for months, if not years, has the potential to cause kidney damage.
So how much protein should you shoot for?
In the same New York Times article, Stuart M. Philips, a professional if kinesiology advises aiming for around 30 to 40 grams of protein for every meal. As you should be eating five or six meals or so a day, this puts you right at 200 to 250 grams of protein a day. Plus, anything more than 40 grams of protein per meal and it will just be pushed out of the system anyway (The New York Times, 2016).
Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
Now that we have an idea of how much protein should be consumed throughout the day, let’s take a brief moment to look at carbs and foods high in carbs.
You need carbs for energy.
Typically, you’ll want to carb up earlier on in the day and start to slow down your carb intake for dinner (unless your workout is post-dinner).
Regardless of when you eat your carbs, you need to know the difference between good and bad carbs. Now, “bad carbs” are not necessarily bad, these carbs just are not as good for your body.
Simple carbs are absorbed into your body faster. If you are not set on working out right away, you may miss the boat with using these carbs, which means the carbs may turn to fat faster. Sugar is one of the most common forms of simple carbs.
Instead, you want to aim for complex carbs.
Complex carbs are found in whole wheat and grains, such as 100% whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, brown rice and so on. There are many ways to manipulate carbs as well such as using a carb cycling meal plan.
When it comes to adding carbs to your diet, always shoot for the healthier, complex carbs (Diabetes UK, 2017).
Healthy Dinner Ideas For Your Gains
So you’re looking for great and healthy dinner ideas for your muscle gains.
Let’s first start with the protein.
You can find protein in a wide variety of locations, but in terms of healthy options for your gains(organic whey protein), you want to focus on lean proteins. This means chicken and turkey are excellent options (just no deep-frying).
Nearly any kind of seafood is great as well. There are plenty of alternative protein sources as well.
If you want to mix it up and go away from a chicken breast or turkey leg, you can use ground turkey to make burger patties. Combined with a 100% whole wheat bun and you have a great source of both your protein and complex carbs. You can even sprinkle in some flax seeds into the ground meet, which is an excellent source of fiber if you’re looking for texture.
If you want steak or pork, keep this limited to about once a week. It allows you to enjoy it yet also prevents you from going overboard with these fattier, higher calorie meets.
Following the meat, you’ll want some sort of the side that gives you some nice complex carbs without killing the diet. Brown rice and whole wheel pasta are good but stay on top of portion sizes here. It is far too easy to think you’re staying healthy but then end up eating 1,000 calories worth of pasta. Beans can offer you a viable option as well as these not only have some protein and carbs but fiber as well(even pea protein)
When preparing veggies, try to steam them instead of baking or frying them. Steaming helps maintain the nutritional value of the veggies. Mix up the veggies when you can. Even switching from beans to asparagus to squash can keep the taste buds from getting bored.
When it comes to veggies, try to go fresh. It is almost always more nutritious and flavor to go with fresh.
When preparing your meals, be mindful of the sauces. A sauce can often have more calories in it than the rest of your meal.
Have you ever looked at a number of calories a ranch has?
And if you’ve looked at the nutritional facts on soy sauce, you’ll know you’ll end up eating almost 100% of your sodium intake for a full meal, which ends up retaining water and giving you a bloated look.
The best sauces you can use are vinegar based, such as hot sauce or mustard.
Quick Healthy Dinner Suggestions
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Spinach, Tomato, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice:
- 6oz chicken breast
- 1/2 cup spinach
- 1 tomato
- 2 tbsp feta
- 1/2 cup brown rice
Season the chicken breast to your liking (so you can always change it up for a future meal). Slice the breast down the middle and fill one side with the tomato slices, feta, and spinach. Use toothpicks to hold the meat in place, then bake in a 375-degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Serve with brown rice.
Mustard Salmon and Grilled Asparagus:
- 5oz salmon
- 1tbsp dijon
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 cup grilled asparagus
Mix the seasonings together (keep out the 1/2 tbsp garlic), then coat the salmon with the marinade. Place on a baking sheet and slide it into a 405-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. While baking, coat the asparagus with olive oil and cover with remaining garlic. Sear the garlic veggies for five minutes, then serve with the fish.
Before Bed Healthy Idea’s
We just went over some healthy dinner ideas for your muscle gains, but we figured why not toss in a bonus post-dinner suggestion. Your body repairs itself why you sleep. It is why aiming for eight hours of sleep every night is extremely important when it comes to building up your muscles.
However, your body isn’t able to do all that much if there isn’t anything to repair your muscles with.
Due to this, you need to make sure your body has quality protein in its system, ready for use. Now, don’t go out and eat an entire rotisserie sized chicken. This causes your body to work overtime trying to break down the food while you sleep, which will lead to a less than desirable sleep cycle. Instead, drink a protein powder drink before bed.
These are low in calories without fat and will not make you feel heavy before bed. This will give you the added protein you need while you sleep to build larger muscles.
To achieve the body you desire, it begins and ends with your diet. Sure, you need to hit the weights and know how to best work your body, but without the right diet, you’ll never see the kind of gains you’re shooting for. It has been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets you up and gives you the necessary energy you need to make it through the day.
However, after a long day of the job and workout out, your body needs the necessary protein to repair what you’ve broken down. This means both dinner and what you consume after dinner vital towards reaching your gains.
By following through with these tips, tricks, and simple meal plan recommendations, you’ll begin to see results in no time.
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Love the quick recipes as it will help me stop from eating the same thing.
Hey thanks, Tom!
Glad you got some good use out of the recipes 🙂
Love the information. Great post and so happy to see dinner ideas!
Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
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