February 17, 2021 3 min read
We all know that training is vital for muscle growth. The stress we impose on our muscles signals the body that it needs to adapt. In response, the body ramps up processes like protein synthesis, and we grow bigger and stronger.
But besides training, we also need to pay attention to our nutrition. Training is what sends signals, but our nutrition is what makes these positive adaptations possible. Without it, no amount of signalling will be enough to materialize muscle out of thin air.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of four invaluable eating tips for optimal muscle gain. Let’s see what they are:
Being in a caloric surplus is not vital for muscle gain. You can build muscle at maintenance, or even in a small calorie deficit. But, keeping a slight caloric surplus helps you optimize the process.
Sure, you can build muscle at maintenance, but eating in a surplus will allow you to gain at an optimal rate. According to most sources and experts, we should aim for an excess of around 200 to 300 calories. For example, if your maintenance is approximately 3,000 calories, you should eat about 3,200-3,300 per day.
Besides getting enough calories, you also need to consume adequate amounts of protein. The reason for that is simple:
Protein provides your body with the building blocks it needs to function well, repair itself, and grow. Without an adequate supply, the caloric surplus alone won’t be enough to cause muscle growth.
Think of it like this:
You might have abundant supplies of some materials needed to build a house, but you won’t be able to without crucial ingredients like bricks and concrete.
As a general rule, most research suggests somewhere between 0.8 and one gram per pound of body weight. For example, if you currently weigh 150 lbs, aim for between 120 and 150 grams of protein per day.
Your pre and post-training meals can have a significant impact on your ability to build muscle. Pre-training nutrition is vital because it provides your body with the energy it needs to complete challenging workouts. It should also provide you with some amino acids that help slow down muscle protein breakdown.
Once you finish a workout, the post-training meal will help kickstart the recovery process and start replenishing lost glycogen (carbohydrates stored in your muscles).
In general, both meals should be a healthy mix of protein and carbs. Research doesn’t show a benefit to timing your fats, so you shouldn’t worry about having any before or after training.
The idea that we need to eat nothing but whole and ‘clean’ foods for muscle gain is outdated and has been disproven. Still, we should focus on getting the majority of our calories from whole and nutritious foods.
You see, unprocessed foods provide us with vital nutrients we need to function well and stay healthy. These foods also provide us with high-quality protein, carbs, fats, and plenty of dietary fiber.
As a result, we feel good, are more satisfied with our choices, and perform better in the gym and our everyday lives.
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