It is believed that people need at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, but The Institute of Medicine recommends that people consume 10-35 percent of protein a day. Protein also increases satiation, which helps us feel full after a meal. Think of protein as a triple threat: it speeds your metabolism, slows your appetite and helps you maintain muscle.
For our vegan and vegetarian friends, there are alternatives to intake protein beside meat. Adequate protein intake includes supplements like collagen or plant-based sources like nuts, soy, beans.
Carbs and Fats
Fats and carbs usually have a bad reputation. Typically you hear people express they want to eliminate carbs and fats out of their diet, but they can actually benefit your muscle growth. It’s recommended that we should consume 20-35% of healthy fats and oils. Fats are needed to supply fatty acids because the body needs but can’t produce things like omega-3 (Macronutrients, Science Learning Hub.) They also assist with the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Good fats are considered unsaturated fats. These include olive oil, avocado, nuts and canola oil. Unhealthy fats are saturated fats, which are foods like butter, cream and meat. It’s said if you can replace your saturated fats with unsaturated fats in your daily meals, you are most likely to increase your lean muscle growth.
Carbs are an important fuel for your muscles and can prevent muscle breakdown. Foods that contain carbohydrates convert into glucose after digested. Glucose is the main source of energy for not only our bodies but for our brains as well. There are two kinds of carbohydrates, complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules and are found in foods like peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables. Simple carbohydrates break down more easily than complex carbohydrates and are found in foods like fruits, milk and milk products. They can also be found in processed refined sugars like candy, syrups and soft drinks. The difference here is that the glucose from refined carbohydrates can get into the bloodstream faster than the glucose from whole grains. This is why doctors recommend eating whole-grain meals.
Who doesn't like to receive a nice compliment on their body? No, we don't mean the creepy kind. As many know, to keep your body looking healthy, especially as you age, you need to be consistent! It’s really important to work on multiple muscle groups at the same time and also to make sure your diet aligns with your workout so that you can deliver the best results for your body. Protein intake is just as essential and will help you reach those muscle mass goals more quickly and easily. Before chugging down a delicious protein shake, here are some exercises to help with strength training that tackle muscles across your entire body and can help you gain lean muscle.
- Barbell deadlift
- Barbell walking lunge
- Stationary bike workout
- Alternating chest punches
Doing these exercises 3-4 times a week is sufficient to increase your muscle mass. There are also workout programs that assist with weight training techniques and share details on how certain movements can help you increase your body weight (Stephens, Carissa., "The No BS Guide to Building Lean Muscle", Healthline.) In addition, adding whey protein or collagen shakes to your post-workout will allow you to increase your muscle weight and help your muscles recover. Make sure that you are prioritizing rest days as well. It’s important to let your muscle recover from heavy workouts or else you could pull or otherwise damage a muscle.
Diets That Build Lean Muscle
Nutrition is a critical factor when it comes to gaining lean muscle. Of course, with the help of a great workout plan, your body can reach the goals you are aiming for. Experts say achieving these goals start with your diet, not dieting. Increasing your muscle gain is all about adding more calories to your meals. It’s best to eat foods that naturally contain all 9 amino acids --- these make digesting protein easier and healthier.
- Chicken breast
- Greek yogurt
- Egg whites
- Peanut butter
- Cottage cheese
- Sweet potatoes
Try to incorporate these foods into your daily meals. The key to increasing your lean muscle growth is eating foods that contain healthy fats. This doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream every now and then. In fact many people indulge in a ‘cheat meal’ once a week, where they simply eat what they want. According to a Men’s Health article, a rule that helps many bodybuilders with muscle growth is that they eat what they want 10% of the time. 90% of their diet contains healthy fats and proteins to help increase their muscle mass (Schuler, Lou., Aragon, Alan., and McDermott, Scott. "The Lean Muscle Diet", Men's Health) As long as your take the proper precautions when having cheat meals, having a balance of both is doable.