What comes to your mind when you think of muscle building? Most probably you are starting to think of the countless times you will need to spend in the gym to get six pack abs. Quite often, people consider the numerous gym sessions as the most effective way of getting ripped, and rarely does the idea of diet come to mind. Did you know that your body needs more nutrients to support the growing body mass as much as it needs those workouts at the gym? ‘Neither timber nor concrete blocks are used to build the body.’ You may not have heard of this saying, but it’s quite popular in the part of the world that I come from. Muscle building diets may not be so different to what you have been eating, however learning what to eat and how to eat it should be the first step in your endeavor. You may also consider getting advice from your personal trainer, a health practitioner or a dietician before making changes in your lifestyle.
You need to ensure that your daily protein intake is sufficient. You are probably wondering how much protein is sufficient to you. Here is a simple way to calculate; take about 1 to 1.5 times your body weight (in pounds) in grams of proteins. For instance, if your weight is 150 pounds, you need to take a minimum of 150 grams and a maximum of 225 grams of proteins per day. A very important point to note is the type of proteins that you should take. There are generally two types of proteins we usually consume; complete and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins are one of the best option. Complete proteins are found mostly in animals and animal products. Incomplete proteins on the other hand are found in plants. There are some plants that have complete proteins though, for example, Soy, Quinoa, Buckwheat e.t.c. Thus, you can still bulk up even if you are a vegetarian. For the non-vegetarian guys, here are the proteins that are good for you:
1. Red meat e.g beef, pork, lamb e.t.c
2. Fish e.g salmon, tuna, swordfish e.t.c
3. Poultry products e.g chicken. turkey and duck. Eggs are also good, especially egg whites because it is not healthy to take more than one egg yolk per day.
4. Dairy Products e.g milk and cheese.
You should take sufficient carbohydrates in your diet, about 1500 calories per day. This will help in providing energy during your workouts. If you don’t have enough carbohydrates your body tends to break down your muscles instead, and you surely don’t want this to happen. Nevertheless, you should avoid taking excess calories because they will be converted to unwanted fats which are not good for your health. Try to focus on carbohydrates which release energy relatively slowly. for example, rice (specifically brown basmati rice), quinoa, sweet potatoes and spaghetti. There are much more similar carbohydrates, consider consulting a dietician to confirm whether the type of carbohydrates you want to take fall under this category.
Although most fats especially saturated fats (solid fats) are not healthy, some of them are good to take and have a variety ofyou benefits. Polyunsaturated fats such as omega 3 and 6 help in the growth and development of healthy cells. You understand that body mass is made of cells right? There is growing evidence that they help to reduce the risk of heart diseases too. These polyunsaturated fats can be found in corn oil, sunflower oil and fish oil e.g salmon, tuna and mackerel. Avoid saturated and trans fats for example ice cream, high-fat cuts of meat and stick margarine.
As you embark on muscle building remember to include green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli because they provide not only vitamins but also fiber which are also important in muscle building and general health as a diabetes destroyer.
Other small but important muscle building diet practices include taking of sufficient water throughout the day about 3 liters for men and 2.2 litres for women per day. Sodium intake is also good for muscle contraction but you should monitor its intake because it is a risk factor for hypertension if in excess.