You’re putting in the work in the gym, training hard and trying to get on the road to a more lean and muscular body. If you feel like you’re not making progress, or you aren’t where you want to be when it comes to gaining muscle, you’ll want to take a good overview of your nutrition to make sure you’re not coming up short.
Here are 4 nutrition tips you want to follow when trying to gain muscle.
Get Enough Calories Throughout The Day
Calorie counting and equations are far from a perfect science and you’re probably better off not devoting a lot of time and energy trying to crunch the numbers on an imperfect science. The truth is, if you’re trying to gain muscle depriving yourself of calories is going to make it super tough.
This is a good time to bump up your carb intake to get those extra calories that will help translate to enhanced muscle. Instead of counting calories you can use your hand size for portions as the size of your hand correlates well to your own body. In the case of carbs, a decent portion size would equal what would fit into one of your cupped hands. You want to have at least 2 servings of those at each meal. And your ideal carb choices would be:
- Brown or wild rice
- Sweet potato
Realize That You Will Gain A Little Body Fat
It’s pretty tough to gain just straight lean muscle. If we’re getting specific and talking about actual muscle tissue you can only gain around 5-6 pounds of it over the course of a year. When we’re talking about muscle size that is a whole different issue and easier to accomplish but since you’ll need a surplus of clean calories to help achieve it some body fat gain is unavoidable.
Use this time and bit of extra weight to help push you more in the gym as your ability to lift heavier will be more achievable. You have that uptake of energy from calories so use it in your favor to increase those weights and lead to even more muscle.
Make Sure You Are Taking In Adequate Protein
Protein can be a big and complicated subject, but without it, building muscle will be pretty difficult. Protein, along with enzymes and hormones, is a structural component that aids in the repair and recovery of the body. Protein is a tough thing for the body to process and digest, and you want to make sure you get enough in, as a percentage of the protein you consume is used just to digest and process itself. Protein is a real metabolism booster and can also help keep your hunger under control. Depriving yourself of protein will shortchange your muscle building goals.
Keeping yourself in a positive protein balance is going to be key for gaining muscle and you’ll be wanting to shoot for around 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. There’s differing opinions on the exact amount ideal for building muscle but studies show that you’ll want to stick in this range if you’re looking to build muscle. Look to include the cleanest beef, chicken and fish you can find, but also include eggs, nuts and seeds and cottage cheese to keep your muscles fed through the day.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Water Each Day
2/3rds of your body is made of water and ⅔ of that is contained in your muscle. You need protein in order for the muscle tissue to grow but it’s important to not neglect your water intake. Water helps to keep muscles full and is involved in the pump you feel when you work out. Without adequate water intake, water is drawn from the muscle back into the blood to help with circulation and to keep blood pressure safe.
When water intake is not up to par you won’t have enough to fill the muscle cells and this can also lead to slowing protein production and increasing protein breakdown. Dehydration can not only affect your appearance but also your performance, as a lack of water can lead to plummeting energy levels. A good rule of thumb is to simply drink half your body weight in ounces each day.
Wrapping It Up
You can’t just gain muscle by accident. It is going to take some hard work, planning and preparation to make it happen. If you focus on these four nutrition tips, along with smart and intense training, you’ll put yourself in a better position for those muscle gains.
About Jamie Logie
Jamie Logie is a personal trainer and nutrition and wellness specialist from Canada who runs www.regainedwellness.com and is author of the Amazon best seller Taking Back Your Health. He likes long walks on the beach, short walks on the beach and the movie “Beaches”.