Building healthy lean muscles can help you maintain optimal health and body functions. From metabolism to energy provision and disease prevention, muscles play an integral role in the body. As such, most fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and celebrities focus on strength training and lean muscle growth for health and aesthetic reasons.
However, both men and women lose muscles as they age due to declining levels of testosterone (in men) and estrogen (in women). Growing bigger muscles is a hard feat to achieve without consistency. It is also essential to understand how your body creates muscles and what factors influence these processes.
Is Your Diet Sufficient to Build Muscles?
Proper nutrition is one of the key influencers of growth. To build muscles, you must consume enough calories and nutrients to take care of daily energy requirements and spur growth. If you are looking to build muscles, then you must establish a balanced diet that features the essential micronutrients and food classes for muscle gain. So what should you feature in your muscle-building diet?
Any muscle gain diet requires loads of protein from a variety of sources. According to studies, protein is the building block of all muscles. The human body breaks down protein into amino acids and uses them to build and repair tissues. You can find protein from both animal and plant sources. Fitness experts recommend plant-based protein as it also contains fiber, which is another essential nutrition most people do not get in adequate amounts.
However, animal protein like lean beef and lamb, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy are very useful in building muscles. Unless you are vegan, you should include these groups in your meals. Plant-based proteins include soybean, hemp seed, and chickpeas, almonds, peanuts, and lentils, among others. To gain muscles, you must meet your daily protein requirement and consume a few more calories to initiate growth.
Protein should make up for 10% to 35% of the calories you consume. Nonetheless, the protein requirement for each person is different. While your body requires enough protein to build muscles, consuming too much protein will not do you any good. Instead, it is more harmful. Thus, you should calculate your daily protein requirement. You can find online calculators to help you determine the number of protein calories you need. This is the minimum requirement your body needs to remain healthy.
Once you know the number, experts recommend taking not more than 2 grams above that number. Studies indicate that taking more than 2 grams of protein above your average requirement does not necessarily provide any benefits as the body can only break down a given amount at a time. The average protein requirement in 0.37 grams per pound of weight, which translates to about 56 grams, if you weigh 150 pounds. You can calculate the calories in each meal or protein food you eat to ensure you are meeting the minimum requirement.
Carbs are another essential food class you need to grow muscles. Our body breaks down starches to glycogen, which it stores in the muscles to provide energy during workouts. The body burns carbohydrates for energy, but it can also break down protein and fats when there are no carbs. If you do not take enough carbohydrates, you will break down the muscles you have, making it harder to build bigger ones.
Therefore, it is vital to include more carb sources in your diet. If you participate in strength training or visit the gym regularly, you need up to half of your calories to come from carbs. Consider high-quality, low-fat carbs like cereals and whole-grain cereals and bread. Fruits, vegetables, and low-fat yogurt and milk are also good sources of carbs.
Although carbs power your workouts, it is recommendable to stay away from fiber-rich carbohydrates before or during your training session. These carbs take longer to process and may leave you feeling full. They are best for post-workout and also help those who seek to lose weight trough meal portioning. It is also advisable to stay away from junk food and simple processed sugars as they are “empty calories.”
By consuming adequate carbs, your body can then use up the protein to build muscles. Some good sources of carbohydrates include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, whole fruits, and vegetables. Examples are kidney beans, lentils, chia and pumpkin seeds, apples, bananas, walnuts, almonds, and quinoa, among others.
Besides protein and carbs, your body needs various micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins for optimal health. Micronutrients play an integral role in digestion, absorption, oxygen supply, and muscle repair, among other areas. Iron, for instance, is an essential component of hemoglobin, which is responsible for oxygen supply by red blood cells. Zinc and vitamin D can boost your testosterone levels. Calcium, on the other hand, strengthens your bones and joints. You need a wide range of micronutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals. You can get these from different food options or even find supplements that contain specific nutrients.
Although many people advise against fats, your body needs an adequate supply of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. During a workout, your body uses fat to supply energy; weight loss specialists use training sessions to access the fat deposits. Fat should make up 20% of the total calories you consume. However, fat contains more calories than protein and carbs combined. For instance, one tablespoon of olive oil delivers 120 calories. You can get healthy fat from sources like virgin olive oil, canola and coconut oil, almonds, fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, pistachios, and several other options. Stick to a heart-healthy vegetable fat, nuts, and fish oil.
Water is a vital ingredient for muscle growth and overall health. Muscles are 70% water, so you need to stay hydrated, especially during your workouts. If you do not have enough fluids, your body will suffer fatigue, headaches, and inflammation from oxidants and free radicals. You need around 3 liters of water per day, but you can drink more depending on your activities. You should also drink other fluids, including smoothies, beverages, and soup.
Although diet accounts for a higher percentage of your growth, various other factors influence muscle growth. To build bigger lean muscles, the body must first tear and damage the existing tissues and then repair it with new bigger tissues. As such, you need to work out regularly to cause those minor tears in your muscles. Weightlifting, strength training and calisthenics can help you achieve the required hypertrophy.
However, working out is one part of the equation. Actual repair occurs during rest and sleep. You require up to 7 hours of quality sleep to grow your muscles and repair everything torn during workouts. Most athletes and fitness enthusiasts today use CBD and other cannabis products to improve rest and recovery and increase endurance. If you are in Canada, you can mail-order your package from any reputable online dispensary Canada retailer and have it delivered to your desired location.
Apart from sleep, you need to establish a supportive lifestyle for muscle growth. This includes avoiding stress and drug abuse, treating all medical conditions promptly, proper hygiene, and the right mindset. You are not going to build muscles in one day, so you have to stay consistent and determined at all times.
Building bigger lean muscles will not only make you healthy. They also boost your confidence as you achieve the aesthetic body shape that eludes many. With proper nutrition, exercise, and a supportive lifestyle, muscle bulking should not be a problem. Make sure you purchase high-quality ingredients and food items. It is also essential to accomplish all workouts in perfect form.
You can also speed up the process through supplements and steroids, but this requires careful consideration and professional insight from your doctor. Once you have the right nutrition, the rest is to ensure you are consuming more calories than you burn. There are also more than 600 muscle groups so you can optimize the growth of specific areas through targeted workouts.