Losing weight and gaining muscle are two different things, so before you address your diet, decide which one you want to do. For the purposes of this article, we will look at diet for muscle gain; specifically, which foods you need to eat and why they are important.
Nutrition is critical for muscle gain. Unless you eat the right nutrients, your quest for a ripped body is doomed. There will always be some people who bulk up on a diet of junk food, but if you don’t consume the right nutrients and sufficient calories, you won’t see great results in the gym.
When you build muscles, two things happen. First, muscle tissue breaks down, and second, it rebuilds. To increase muscle mass, tissue synthesis must exceed tissue breakdown. If you don’t consume enough nutrients before and after an intense session at the gym, you will lose more muscle than you gain.
Protein is a critical part of muscle tissue synthesis, which is why body builders drink whey protein shakes after a resistance training session (for whey deals, check this site). High protein foods such as chicken, eggs, and fish all contain amino acids. The body needs amino acids to rebuild muscle tissue, so your diet should include a minimum 30% protein.
The Importance of Carbohydrates
It is simply not possible to build muscle mass if you don’t eat the right foods before and after a training session. Carbs are important if you are doing significant amounts of cardio exercise, as your body uses carbohydrates as fuel. However, if your primary goal is to build muscle mass via resistance training, you need a protein rich diet.
You need to consume enough calories. Women need around 200 calories extra per day to gain muscle mass whereas men should be eating a minimum of 3,000 calories per day. Use a calorie counting app to monitor what you are eating until you get a feel for how many calories are in everyday foods.
Food is Fuel
Treat food as fuel and eat regularly. Drink a whey protein shake immediately after a workout, as your muscles will be crying out for nutrients. Research studies have shown that a protein deficit post-workout leads to muscle loss whereas eating protein-rich foods during the rest period leads to muscle gain. Whey protein shakes are a quick and easy way to feed your muscles, but you should eat a more substantial meal within an hour of a workout. This meal should contain ample protein and carbohydrates; ideally, make this the main meal.
A good example of a healthy meal would be chicken, white rice, and mixed vegetables accompanied by a protein shake containing extra oats and fruit. Adding carbs to your meal helps to replenish your body’s glycogen stores, which you will need for the next workout.
Eat regular meals and make sure each meal contains a combination of protein and carbs. Fats are OK, as long as they are healthy fats such as avocado or nuts.