You can lift weights and exercise as often as humanly possible, but you won’t get the results you want if you do not understand how your diet affects your fitness goals. If your muscles are struggling to grow despite spending countless hours at the gym lifting heavy weights, your problem might be your diet or lifestyle.
This article will explore the importance of an appropriate muscle-building diet when you’re trying to grow bigger, stronger muscles.
The importance of your diet for muscle building
Growing bigger muscles is a complicated science that involves a variety of factors like the type of weightlifting exercises you perform, your hormones, how much rest you’re getting, how well hydrated you are, and your diet.
Many bodybuilding experts view diet and weightlifting as the two most important factors that determine how successful your body-building journey will be.
Proper nutrition is essential for muscle growth since your muscle tissues need essential nutrients like proteins to grow. If you’re not getting these nutrients, your body won’t be able to effectively repair and build muscle tissues that have been damaged by your workouts into stronger tissues. Matter of fact, not getting nutrients like protein can lead to your muscles becoming smaller and weaker regardless of how hard you workout.
Proteins are not the only important nutrient when looking to build muscles. Carbohydrates help to power your body, and you might feel sluggish when you are not getting enough. Also, carbohydrates are calorie-rich, so they help you to reach a caloric surplus which is needed to grow bigger muscles and gain mass. Fats help to keep your body healthy, and they increase your energy levels.
Let us take a more detailed look at a few things you should incorporate into your muscle-building diet for best results:
1) Consume lots of protein-rich foods
Your body does not build muscles while you are at the gym pumping iron. Muscle tissue growth and repair mostly takes place when you are resting. What you eat before and after workouts impacts how effectively your body repairs and builds muscle tissues after your workouts.
Proteins are not stored in the body, so getting enough daily is important since:
- Proteins provide amino acids that serve as the building blocks for muscle tissues. Intense weightlifting breaks down muscle tissues and these amino acids are needed to repair and build bigger muscle tissues
- Proteins also provide amino acids that are used to create important hormones like human growth hormone and insulin. Giving the body all the protein it needs to build and repair muscles puts it in an anabolic state which promotes muscle growth over muscle breakdown
Medical experts recommend about a quarter gram of protein for each kilogram of your body weight, but that is just enough protein to maintain normal body functions. For muscle-building purposes, aim for at least two grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight.
For example, if you weigh 80 kilograms, you should aim to consume at least 160 grams of protein daily. Since the body does not store protein for long, spread your protein intake over five to six meals with no more than three hours between each meal. That keeps your body in an anabolic state and leads to the best results when it comes to building muscles.
2) Eat more calories
Your muscles will not grow bigger if you do not regularly have a caloric surplus. The math is very simple. You need more calories than your body burns to grow bigger, and you need fewer calories than your body uses daily to lose weight.
Research indicates that weightlifters who were big eaters consistently had the greatest gains from their workouts. Aim for at least 500 more calories than your body burns daily to get the most from your weight training. There are many apps and online calculators you can use to figure out how many calories you need daily based on factors like your weight, gender, and age.
Try spreading these calories over five to six meals and include lots of protein to keep your body in an anabolic state, leading to more muscle growth. Other important nutrients that help with muscle growth include healthy fats, carbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Aim for about 50% carbs, 25% proteins, and 25% fats for each meal. Protein shakes and meal replacement supplements can also count as meals when you bulk. The important thing to note is that you will have to eat a lot more than you typically eat to grow larger muscles.
3) Drink lots of water to optimize testosterone levels
Dehydration due to exercise slows down motor neurons in your body. That leads to getting fatigued a lot earlier during workouts, hindering your performance. Research conducted by the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that dehydrated weightlifters secrete higher levels of cortisol while producing less testosterone, the most important hormone in the body when it comes to bodybuilding.
Keep your body well hydrated throughout the day, drinking at least 8 cups of water per day.
4) Feed your body with protein after workouts
Getting proteins in your system immediately after your workouts leads to better gains. Ideally, you want to be chugging down a protein shake minutes after your workout. The type of protein you consume also makes a difference since some proteins are processed faster than others.
Whey protein is a favorite among bodybuilders since it digests faster than other types of proteins and it comes with more leucine – a branched-chain amino acid that is essential for synthesizing proteins.
5) Spread meals apart
There is no way around this if you’re serious about putting on mass. Feeding your body with all the proteins it needs to repair and build tissues throughout the day keeps it in an anabolic state – which promotes muscle building over muscle breakdown.
Create a meal plan that includes five to six meals per day and stick to it. Get your first meal in no more than an hour after you get up in the morning and stop eating about three hours before bedtime. Eating right before bedtime can end up disrupting your sleep, hindering the muscle-building process.