Proper nutrition is without doubt a very important component involved in the process of building muscle. Believe it, how you eat and the foods you eat will determine ultimate muscle building success. You can’t gain muscle without training, but if your muscle building nutrition is not good you will not get pleasing results when you train.
What are the elements that need to be focused on to make sure that your nutrition plan to build muscle is good? First, the fundamental principles must be soundly implemented. Next, you have to customize your nutrition to fit your individual needs. The fundamentals such as the calorie surplus and the macronutrients are a must, but it’s also important that the nutrition you provide to yourself is arrayed in a way that makes sense to your body.
We know that the most important muscle building nutritional elements are the calorie surplus and the breakdown of fat, carb and protein. Everyone must include these components in their nutrition plan. But the optimal amount of each and the right types, comes down to the individual in respect to his/her body type, personal taste, specific goals, activity level etc.
The best outcome that one can get from any muscle building program is optimal muscle gains with minimal fat gain. For that reason we need nutrition customization to address our differences when eating to build muscle.
A calorie surplus is a fundamental factor for gaining muscle. It means you need to consume more calories than your body burns daily. There are different recommendations of how to find this calorie number. One way is to multiply your body weight by a specific value, typically a number between 16 and 20. The second method is to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (tdee) and add a certain number to it to give you a surplus, typically 500-1000.
Both of these methods are pretty good guidelines to estimate a calorie surplus that you could start out with for gaining muscle. But in order to come up with a calorie number that is close as possible to your optimal daily intake to gain lean muscle, you have to take your body type and your training program into consideration. Why? Your body type will determine how your body manages excess calories, and your training activities will require the right amount of calories for energy.
All calories are not created equal. Your total daily calories must be divided into the three macronutrients: fat, carb, and protein.
Dietary fats play a very important role in muscle building nutrition. They help to maintain elevated testosterone levels and improve overall health. Fat is more calorie-dense than carb or protein. One gram of fat has 9 calories, while one gram of carb or protein contains 4 calories.
Your body type, goals and personal food preferences will determine your ideal fat intake. Due to it’s high caloric value, most people will need to keep fat intake low when eating to build lean muscle, but definitely not out of the diet. Some folks may even do well on moderate to high fat intake in their muscle building diet. So the bottom line really is individualization of your your nutrition plan to get optimum muscle building results.
Some great sources of healthy fats that are high in omega 3’s and 6’s that you should include in your muscle building diet is fatty fish, fish oil, nuts, natural nut butters, avocado, flax seed oil and olive oil.
Protein provides the building blocks for muscle. Because weight training break s muscle tissue down, getting enough protein is important to help rebuild muscle bigger and stronger. How much protein you need to build muscle will also depend on a few factors including your body type and age.
Recommendations of protein intake range from about 1.00 grams to 1.50 grams per pound of your body weight per day. Once again these guidelines are good, but getting the right amount of protein to meet your individual needs is the right approach. Good protein foods to eat to build muscle include: Beef, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt and whey protein.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary short term fuel source. You need carbs at a sufficient level to fuel your intense workouts, and they are also required by the body to keep muscle glycogen levels full. Remember that you’ll need lots of energy to push your workouts hard to make progressive overload happen. Carbs will be the right source of calories for that energy.
Carbohydrates should make up 40% to 60% of the macronutrient ratio of your diet. The idea is to adjust your carb intake to fit your body type and specific goals. 60% carbs may not be a problem for some people, but for people whose body type make them sensitive to the effects of glucose and insulin may be required to lower their carbs to a moderate level.
However, carbohydrate levels cannot be too low because this may leave you feeling sluggish and lacking energy for your muscle building workouts. Some very good carbohydrate foods to eat to build muscle include oatmeal, rice, potatoes, yams, pasta, pita, bread, fruits and vegetables.
Always Remember To Individualize Your Nutrition Plan
Do not confirm your eating plan for building muscle to a standard format or set of rules. Some elements are fundamental such as a calorie surplus and macronutrients, but the other aspects should be customized to best fit your body and personal preferences. It is recommended to eat 5-6 meals daily for building muscle, but this isn’t carved in stone like many other components.
Ultimately, what matters most is how you feel, how you are performing, whether the quality of the food you eat is good, whether your body composition and overall health is good, and whether you are meeting your muscle building goals.