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Bodybuilders, trainers, and body gurus will tell you that nutrition is equally important for building muscles as physical activity. More than 50% of bodybuilding is nutrition, while the rest is physical activity. People think they can build muscles only by going to the gym or doing some heavy exercise while neglecting their food. But it is not valid. It would be best if you found the right combination of nutrition and physical activity to build muscles or lean body mass.
If you search the literature about bodybuilding, you will find that most of the data is concerned with nutrition and dietary facts, while a minimal amount of information is on different bodybuilding techniques. This indicates the importance of nutrition for building muscles.
You have to train your body with physical activity to enhance its strength. Still, you also must provide your body with the proper nutrition to cope with the new level of activity effectively. High protein diets are essential for building muscles, but fats and carbohydrates are equally important. Focusing on consuming more calories than you burn through physical activity would be best. Below is a list of foods that will help you build muscle during your training:
Proteins are made up of monomers called amino acids which are the building blocks of muscles. The daily recommended protein intake is less than half a gram per pound of body weight, but for athletes, bodybuilders and weightlifters, it is 2 grams per pound. Beginners should eat 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily for the first months because, during this period, your body responds mainly to the training. For example, if you are a person of 180 pounds, you have to eat 270 grams of proteins per day initially and then not less than 180 grams per day for the rest of the time.
You can get protein from lean animal proteins such as chicken, beef, eggs, fish, Turkey, and dairy. These foods are rich in protein, providing your body with every essential amino acid required for building muscles.
Eggs are rich in high-quality proteins, fats, Vitamin B, and choline. Eggs are also rich in amino acids that are particularly important for muscle building. At the same time, vitamin B is essential for other body functions like energy production.
Fish, including salmon, are excellent for muscle gain and overall health. Fish are a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids and essential B vitamins.
Beef is also rich in high-quality protein and minerals. Studies have shown that consuming lean red meat is associated with muscle gain during training.
Turkey breast is another source of high-quality protein, as a three-ounce serving of Turkey breast provides 26 grams of pure protein. Like other protein foods, turkey breast is also rich in vitamin B called niacin which is essential for fat and carbohydrate processing. The optimum amount of vitamin B is also necessary for muscle gain over time because it provides energy for muscle-building exercises.
Proteins are the primary nutrient for muscle building, and carbohydrates are second. Try to eat three grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight daily. Excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in your muscles and will keep your muscles full and fueled during exercise.
A 180-pound person will have to eat up to 540 grams of carbohydrates daily for muscle building. Try to eat slow-digesting carbohydrates like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Brown rice is also a healthy source of carbohydrates. Try to eat brown rice or quinoa before exercise to have enough fuel for physical activity. Enough energy will allow you to exercise harder, thus stimulating muscle growth.
Quinoa contains 40 grams of carbohydrates per cup, along with magnesium, Phosphorus, fiber, and proteins. Magnesium is an essential mineral for muscles and nerves.
Try to eat fruits and vegetables with every meal as they are not only necessary for muscle building as they provide you with carbohydrates but are also crucial for overall health.
Just like proteins and carbohydrates, fats are an equally essential nutrient for muscle building. About 20% to 30 of your daily calories should consist of fats. Generally, it is advised that people who have a sedentary lifestyle should eliminate saturated fats from their diet. But high saturated fat diets maintain testosterone levels better than low-fat diets, and we all know that optimal levels of testosterone are essential for muscle mass and strength. Steak and ground beef provide you with high-quality proteins along with saturated fats. Other foods include olive oil, peanut butter, mixed nuts, fatty fish, flax seed, and walnuts are also good sources of polyunsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Other things to consider
In addition to eating the proper amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, there are some other things that you should also consider.
For muscle building, you should be in a positive balance, consuming more calories than you spend. If you are not in a positive balance, your body will not support your muscles because it has to use those calories for energy production and survival.
To stay in a positive calorie balance, you must eat every 2 to 3 hours, ensuring a steady supply of carbohydrates and proteins for muscle growth. Try to keep the size of each meal equal because if you eat more during lunch or breakfast, you are less likely to eat after 2 or 3 hours, and this will not help you in muscle building; instead, it will only make you unhealthy. Try to eat six meals per day with a maximum of 8 meals depending on your need.
You can also use powder protein supplements pre- or post-workout. Usually, it is recommended to avoid processed foods, but at times protein shakes are a better option as they will not only keep you energized but also give you a head start on muscle recovery. Because during extensive exercises, some of your muscles may break or undergo injury, so in that case, you will have an extra supply of amino acids in the form of a protein shake to repair that damaged muscle.
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