8 Nutrition Lessons for Gaining Muscle

8 Nutrition Lessons for Gaining Muscle

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8 Nutrition Lessons for Gaining Muscle

Easy Steps for Big Results

By Michael Berg

It’s only when you look back on your school days as an adult that you realise it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as you thought it was when you were a child. The assignments were easy, your lunch had little confusion aside from where you’d store it during class and let’s not even think of glossing over the idea of recess. Remember recess? It was that stretch of break time when you actually played instead of drinking coffee and complaining about your job to your coworkers.

Those days were the days, and the learning was easy. Entering adulthood often means that your days of learning are few and far between. Ultra FITNESS knows this, and that’s why we’re making sure that your lesson plan for the day is going to be a breeze – but maybe not as easy as recess. The lesson today is how to eat. Yes, we know you think you already know how to do that, but after this tutorial, you’ll know all about the food and supplements you need to make sure that your efforts in the weight room aren’t for nothing. So pay attention, class: school is now in session.


 Lesson 1: FAT

Fat has a very specific purpose: when you exercise for long periods of time, your body depends on fa
t to fuel it when its glycogen stores have been depleted. And while very intense exercise depends on carbs, low-to-moderate exercise, such as weight training, relies more on fat for fuel – that’s why it’s important to get some fat in your diet.

Having said that, for the most part, your fat needs – which should be 10 to 20 per cent of your total daily calorie intake – will be taken care of by the protein-centric foods you eat, such as the fat found in beef, chicken and turkey. But that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily steer clear of any other sources of fat, as certain types can be extremely beneficial.

For example, omega-3 fatty acids – which are found in fish and walnuts – can help repair your muscles. Shawn Talbott, PhD, suggests taking fish oil in the evening before you hit the sack. “That way, the fatty acids can balance the inflammation that your training caused in the body while you sleep, which is when your tissues are rebuilding themselves anyway,” he explains.


Lesson 2: PROTEIN

To craft an appreciable amount of muscle, you need to hammer away at that goal in the gym and in the kitchen. That’s where protein comes in – this vital nutrient is the building block your body needs to develop lean mass. The protein you consume is broken down into individual amino acids during digestion and absorption. The body then uses these amino acids for various jobs, like manufacturing tissue and enzymes needed for metabolism and, more importantly for this discussion, creating muscle. That’s why you should have some form of protein with every single meal.

How much is enough? “You need somewhere between 1 and  1.25 grams per 500 grams of body weight each day, split over five to eight meals,” says Chris Aceto, a top consultant to bodybuilding competitors for more than 20 years. As a percentage, protein should be around 30 per cent of your total calorie intake each day.

And it isn’t just the total amount; when you eat, such as after lifting weight, can be just as important. Mike Saunders, PhD, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, suggests consuming protein with
carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a tough training session – whether in whole-food or supplement form – to kick-start the body’s
recovery process. “By feeding yourself around your workout, you’re preparing your body for the next one,” he says. So consider stashing a premixed shake or powder that you can mix with water in your gym bag. Good sources of protein include skinless white-meat chicken and turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef, protein shakes, soy products, low-fat dairy products, beans and egg whites.


Lesson 3: WATER

Many people walk around in a constant state of dehydration, which is a huge mistake when you’re trying to transform your physique or gain optimum performance. When more than 1 to 2 per cent of your body weight is dehydrated, your physical work capacity and exercise performance are significantly compromised. Lousy workouts equal lousy results.

While it’s true that most liquid beverages – even colas and coffee – can help you meet your hydration needs, consider this: numerous scientific studies show that most beverages have weak satiety properties, as demonstrated by one study that found that subjects who drank a 450-calorie sweetened fruit drink gained a significant amount of weight (and not the good kind), while
subjects who ate the same amount of calories from food did not.

Of course, some calorie-laden beverages – most notably, protein shakes – are okay. But to meet your hydration needs, reach for the ultimate no-calorie drink – water – more often. You need it for your body’s metabolic and physiological systems to function
optimally. How can you tell if you’re drinking enough? A simple clue is whether you have to use the restroom often and keep
drinking to compensate for what you’ve lost. Most importantly, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water because by then it may
be too late and you’re playing catch-up.

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