Muscle Building Diet and Nutrition
The Ultimate Muscle Building Diet and Nutritional Plan
Including…Pre Workout and Post Workout Meal Timing and Planning
Understanding the science of how our food is converted into energy, and knowing what nutrients should be consumed and at what time, will fuel your training and support your efforts in building lean muscle.
Mastering nutritional science is just as important as the intensity of your workout at the gym. Without obtaining the knowledge and implementing what you have learned, you potentially stand to lose muscle mass rather than experience gains.
What are the building blocks of building lean muscle mass?
- Eat Right
- Overload Muscles
- Keep hydrated
The truth of the matter is, muscles require proper nutrition, without which they simply won’t grow. Supplement stores pack their shelves tightly with promises of bulk, shredded muscle and rapid results.
If it’s that competitive advantage that you are after, optimising your nutrition is paramount to your success. You need nutritional strategies that are tested and proven by science. Your diet needs to be calculated with precision and the timing of your meals should be regimented and set around your training schedule.
- The potential energy that is present in your food is referred to by a measurement called a calorie.
- Calories may come from protein, carbohydrates, or fats.
- Your body will use this energy to perform physiological processes that are required to live. Every organ in your body needs energy supplied by food, or through storage, to complete your tasks.
- In the case of your muscles, for them to contract and relax, they also need energy.
- Your body needs fuel, in the form of food, to promote muscle hypertrophy and to lose excess fat.
- Your metabolism peaks naturally in the morning, and as the day progresses it starts to slow down.
- Strangely most of us have been brought up with the mentality that dinner is supposed to be a large meal, if not the biggest meal, consumed. The reason for this was that it would then sustain us throughout the night. This is a belief system that has guided us for centuries and is incorrect.
- The evening is not the optimal time of day for our bodies to digest large amounts of food.
- Just like our circadian clock lets us know when we should sleep, which is at sundown, our digestive system has its own cycle that we must observe.
- Your most substantial meal should be consumed when your metabolism is cranking.
- Therefore, breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it helps to set you up with fuel to power through your day.
Three vital macronutrients to include in your nutrition plan– protein, carbs and fats.
- For optimal results a muscle building diet and nutrition plan should have you consuming protein every 3-5 hours.
- Studies have demonstrated that the body’s anabolic response to the consumption of protein lasts around 3-5 hours.
- If your goal is to build muscle, it is suggested you eat protein approximately 4-6 times per day.
- Eat an adequate supply to meet your dietary regime, however, ensure that you do not consume more protein than your body can physically absorb in one meal.
- Doing so will not increase your muscle gains, and may actually stunt the growth of muscles and result in fat storage.
Our bodies need protein for “growth.”
- Protein is used to build and repair, and it facilitates the production of hormones and enzymes.
- It is also necessary for muscle growth and upkeep.
- To ensure optimal functioning of your immune system, be sure you consume enough protein in your diet.
If you have any concerns about developing sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass, then you must put the consumption of protein up high on your list of priorities, for lack of protein prevents muscle growth and increases the likelihood of muscle loss.
Types of Protein
Two primary sources: whole food protein and supplement protein.
Whole Food Protein
Derived from natural food sources, examples of whole food protein include chicken, beef and fish. If you are going lean, then select chicken, fish, turkey, eggs and lean cuts of red meat as your whole food protein source. Protein from meat has been demonstrated to have significant benefits to the weightlifter. Meats have the potential to increase testosterone levels.The best vegetarian choices are quinoa, almonds, rice, beans, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat greek yoghurt and tofu.
Many people equate the consumption of carbs as the reason for getting fat. What they need to realise is that you cannot omit carbs entirely from the diet. Carbs play an essential role in muscle hypertrophy.
When carbs are consumed, the body breaks them down into two substances: glucose and glycogen.
Glucose or “blood sugar,” is the energy source or fuel that cells use most.
Glycogen is a substance located in the liver as well as in the muscles. Glycogen can be converted quite easily into glucose for an instant energy source. As a bodybuilder engages in heavy lifting, glycogen present in the muscle will be burned up to deal with this overload.
How do we differentiate between carbohydrates?
Glycemic Index (GI)
The numeric system that supports us in deciphering the speed at which carbs will be converted into glucose is called the glycemic index. With a rank of 0 to 100, carbs get rated on how they affect blood sugar levels. A GI rating of 53, for example, is considered “low GI,” 56 to 69 is a medium rank, and 70+ means a carb is high on the glycemic index.
A simple carbis one that converts into glucose quickly and will rank high on the glycemic index. Examples: honey or watermelon.
A complex carbohydrateis one that has a low GI and is slow to convert into glucose. Examples: apple or broccoli.
Knowing where your carbs rank on the glycemic index is essential for strategising both weight loss and muscle growth. Regular consumption of high-GI carbs has been associated with the increased risk of heart disease and of developing diabetes.
Carbs usually should be eaten before a training session and afterwards so that the body has ample supply to fuel the training session and recovery period.
Before training consume 10 – 15% of your daily carbs
After training consume 30 – 40% of your daily carbs
Hormones and Fat Loss
Insulin that is produced by the body must fulfil its responsibilities. It must process and absorb the carbs we consume. By doing so, this prevents the body using fat as its fuel.
What may interest you is that our bodies naturally burn the fat we have consumed during sleep.
Often people indulge in hot chocolate or wine before bed. This consumption results in an elevation of insulin, which in turn interferes with the fat burning program scheduled for the night.
Studies have found that this production and processing of the hormone insulin also interferes with growth hormone production.
GH is known for its potent fat-burning properties. We naturally produce growth hormone when sleeping.
If there is an excess of insulin consumption at bedtime, this corresponds with a decline in growth hormone production. This then robs an individual of their ability to benefit from the natural fat burning and muscle building that occurs during sleep.
To avoid stunting your GH production, if you feel a little peckish before bed, make a wise choice and consume lean proteins only.
Fats have had a bad rap for far too long. It wasn’t until recently that researchers cleared up our understanding of fats. It turns out, that they are essential for us to consume, so long as we understand the difference between good fats and bad fats.
Not all fats increase the risk of heart disease, and not all fats make us fat. Only the consumption of unhealthy fats leads to disease. Healthy fats help the body absorb nutrients that have been consumed during the day.
They nourish the nervous system and regulate hormone levels. Good fats are also essential for the maintenance of cell structures. Good fats are unprocessed saturated fats. These need to be consumed daily.
Animal products such as dairy, meat and egg yolks contain saturated fat. Some plant foods are also high in saturated fat such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Saturated fats are healthy fats. Especially MCT’s (medium chain tryglicerides that are found in coconut) It is also helpful to know how to calculate the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios.
Water makes up about 60- 70% of the human body, and the muscles consist of approximately 70% water. For the body to work optimally, hydration is of the utmost importance. An adequate water supply is needed to digest our food, and transport and absorb nutrients. Water also helps prevent injury by its cushioning effect surrounding the joints of the body. When someone becomes dehydrated, this has an adverse effect on almost every physiological process in the body.
Not all drinking water is equal. Be sure that you choose filtered and purified water. Check what minerals are present in the water you drink. It is important not to consume water that has contaminants. The best drinking water is derived from a live source, such as a mountain spring.
Vitamins and Minerals
There are millions of tasks for the body to undertake on a daily basis, and in order for the body to accomplish these tasks, you need a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Consuming a continual supply of vitamins and minerals supports the growth and repair process.
The world we live in is far different than what our ancestors were exposed to. Back then you could eat your vegetables and be assured of the vitamin and mineral supply contained within. Today, we can’t rely on the food we eat to deliver the nutrients we need. Our soil quality is poor and plants grown are riddled with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and other additives. Therefore, we often have to supplement to get an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals
Best Nutrition Plan for Muscle Building
Before Weight Training | Pre Workout Meal Planning
Raw eggs – protein muscle nutrition
1-2 hours before you start your workout, consume the following:
30 grams of low GI carbs
You need to supply ample fuel to the body if you are serious about muscle building. Slow to moderate digesting carbs are recommended, for they will sustain energy for your entire workout. This is what you want so that the body doesn’t use any of your existing muscle as fuel.
Fast-digesting carbs get used up quickly. Choosing carbs with a low to moderate GI, i.e.) oatmeal, brown rice, alongside keeping a close watch on portion control and timing is the strategy for pre-workout muscle nutrition.
Carbohydrates will supply an individual the energy that is needed to fuel weight training. Carbs trigger insulin release, which is effective at counteracting the effects of cortisol. It also increases the flow of blood to the muscles assisting with protein synthesis.
Oranges supply a quick supply of fuel that can kick-start your training. They are also a great source of vitamin C and electrolytes too.
30 grams from a fast digesting and complete protein source (whey)
To maximise protein synthesis, your pre-workout meal must have a complete protein source present such as chicken or egg whites. This gives the body a supply of all essential and non-essential amino acids needed to keep nitrogen supply in a positive balance while maximising protein synthesis. Whey protein is an alternative, which will result in a positive nitrogen balance.
The protein that is eaten before a workout will provide amino acids into the bloodstream that will be available for repair. This is of great importance when muscle fibres start to break down from weightlifting.
30-40 mins before training, consume the following:
Scientifically Formulated Pre-workout Supplements that are designed to increase muscle growth.
The final preparation consumed 30-40 minutes before training needs to be in the form of a supplement, scientifically formulated for muscle building. A fast-acting supplement designed for quick absorption is key to obtaining a rapid source of energy. Many supplements that are available for purchase will include ingredients such as arginine or caffeine. The caffeinated supplements offer increased focus and can help fuel your workout. On the other hand, the supplements that contain arginine help provide a strong muscular pump. They help to activate peak vasodilation, which is optimal for new muscular growth.
After Weight Training | Post Workout Meal Planning
As you complete your training session, be aware that your body will be in a highly anabolic state. It will absorb glucose, glycogen, and amino acids at a much faster rate than it usually does. This is a window of opportunity that should not be wasted. The body needs nutrients at this point. Without the nourishment muscle growth can halt alongside the desired fat burning.
To maximise muscle building, it is recommended that you eat within 1 hour of completing weight training.
Most personal trainers will advise you that it is imperative to consume the right nutrients immediately after your workout to achieve your muscle building goals – this is still one of the best strategies known to build muscle.
- Post-workout is the period in which prevention of muscular breakdown is key.
Intense strength training results in your muscles developing microscopic tears. These tears throughout the muscle tissue provide the evidence that training was intense and productive. As was deemed necessary before working out, you must ensure that you consume nutrients to prevent muscle breakdown. Nutrients are necessary both before and after a training session. When nutrients are not supplied, these muscle tears have the propensity to result in further muscle breakdown. It also minimises adequate protein energy for your muscles to repair.
- Post workout requires increased protein synthesis.
After a workout, your body is eager to pull nutrients for use in protein synthesis. The muscles require an ample supply of insulin to facilitate the transport of protein, instead of storing it as fat. Muscles at this time are in a high state of sensitivity. Though insulin has predominantly been regarded as an evildoer, causing havoc within the body, insulin transforms into a “team player” in the post-workout recovery period contributing to the repair and growth of muscle. Eating a proper meal post workout is proven to increase fat loss and improve muscle growth.
- Proper post-workout meal promotes a faster recovery/li>
Timing is a vital consideration when consuming a meal post-workout. The right nutrients will work to decrease muscular pain experienced after a workout. For those training, that has only one day from which to recover from their workout, provision of the right nutrients, provides the athlete with the ability to train with more frequency and power, leading to fast gains.
- Post-workout muscle nutrition is necessary in order to replenish glycogen.
Intense workouts will more often than not, use glycogen as fuel. Stored in the liver and muscle, glycogen is regarded as the best fuel available for training. As much as 80% of ATP production that occurs during training gets sourced from glycolysis. Typical high volume bodybuilding-style training sessions that involve a variety of exercises and sets, alongside those that use the same muscle groups can deplete local glycogen stores.
The glycogen level you have before training plays a role in how the muscles will respond. If they are full or close to full, muscle growth will be increased. Whereas minimal glycogen stores will result in less growth in the muscle.
Post Workout Meal and its Timing
Training results are maximised where you schedule your post-workout meal within 30-60 minutes of your training session. The speed of nutrient delivery is an important factor to consider in muscle nutrition. The rate of digestion is also a consideration.
Low-fat post workout meal recommended. The reason for this is that dietary fat slows down digestion.
The post workout meal consists of easily digestible protein. Protein, in the form of meat, needs 3-4 hours to digest. Whey or casein proteins are exceptional choices for post-workout.
Post workout meal – must eat easily digestible carbs. The reason this is necessary is that carbs that get digested quickly will maximise the effect of insulin while replenishing glycogen stores. Fruit is a good option at this time.
The post workout meal still must keep caloric intake in focus. Do not sabotage your muscle building by consuming excess calories. The goal is to Build Lean Muscle Mass
Immediately after a training session, the recommended consumption is as follows:
- A high-quality protein
- Amino acids, as they are the building blocks of protein
- Easily digestible portion of carbohydrates to restore depleted glycogen levels
Meal Before Bedtime
The last meal that should be consumed immediately before going to bed should contain 15-20 grams of a slow digesting protein. One option could be a small portion of low-fat cottage cheese. Some people opt to consume casein at this time. Knowing that the body will be on fast for 6-8 hours, by eating this protein you ensure that the body will not break down muscle during sleep.
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