Ever feel like you’ve been working out vigorously and yet you’re still not getting that muscle gains you’re aiming for? It’s not that all your efforts are in vain, but you’re probably not doing the “after care” of your training sessions quite right.
Building those lean muscle gains isn’t just about those hard work you’re putting in at the gym, proper sports nutrition is essential in making it all happen. Here are the few things to keep in mind when optimising your muscle gains:
Stay hungry and feast often
It’s quite rational to say that as long as energy in is less than energy out, you’ll lose weight. But if your goal is to achieve that lean and toned body (with muscles) and not just simply looking like a chopstick (apology for the hyperbole), restricting your diet won’t do any good for your muscle building. You simply need to eat to grow, and eat even more than your usual intake, in order to train your stomach to adapt to the higher calorie intake required to build muscle. Instead of abruptly bulking your meal portion in one go, you can play around with the frequency, i.e. eat more often!
A good, healthy snack here and there along the day could help you stay anabolic, induce your muscle protein synthesis and hence optimise your results.
Binge on high protein foods
High protein foods are the most obvious go-to when it comes to muscle building. Eating protein after a workout will help you decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis, restore glycogen stores and enhance recovery. Grab those eggs, grass-fed beef, chicken/turkey breast, beans and nuts, tuna, salmon, etc.
An important pin-point to increase muscle gain is to ensure that muscle protein synthesis is greater than muscle protein breakdown. Whey protein could help boost your muscle protein synthesis due to its high leucine (amino acids essential for muscle growth) content and fast metabolic rates. Consuming casein protein before bed could also help you stay anabolic during your sleep due to its slower digestion rate. Casein could be consumed through Greek yoghurt or cottage cheese.
Throw away those fad diets and befriend fiber-rich carbs
Going on a restrictive “fad” diets doesn’t go along with your lean muscle gains, in fact, it will inhibit you from achieving the desired results. When calories are limited (in restrictive diets), the body will seek out energy sources to consume. Unfortunately, your body will instead take out energy from your muscle stores and thus restrain you from building lean mass. Going on starvation mode could also increase your fat stores – remember the terms “skinny fat”?
Getting enough carbs will give you more energy during the workout itself, thus increase performance and endurance. Some fiber-rich carbs you could go for are quinoa, wheat, oats, sweet potatoes, beetroot, etc.
For more post workout meal ideas, check out our 3 SUMMER SALAD RECIPES WITH A TWIST – THE PERFECT POST WORKOUT MEAL .
Fats are not always a bad idea
Eating fats are not always fattening, in fact, it helps you lose fat (huhhh?). Yes, healthy fats are essential in boosting metabolism and regulating hormones. So, cutting fats out of your diet is not necessarily a wise decision, it would instead inhibit muscle growth and fat loss. Examples of healthy (saturated) fats you should definitely eat are avocado– great for brekkie, cheese, dark chocolate, fatty fish, nuts, coconut, extra virgin olive oil.
Bye to booze
A week of work and mundane routine calls for a refreshment over the weekend, and most of the time it’s got to do with a glass, or two, or more, of your favourite drinks (booze). Yes, you’re likely to have a good time, but on the other side, it’s a major setback for those of you who are having another agenda for lean muscle gains. Alcohol reduces muscle protein synthesis and it also messes around with your hormones and metabolism. When we’re drinking alcohol, our metabolism is on pause for burning the fat and is occupied in getting rid of the alcohol toxins (acetate) first. As a result, the food we consumed will be stored as fat, especially around the belly – think of “beer belly” (not so hot eh?). However, keeping alcohol intake in moderation could be beneficial for our health in terms of increasing the good cholesterol. Remember the saying: a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.. until you keep pouring and pouring, of course.
2 liters of water a day is the rule, as simple as that. We often confuse ourselves between feeling hungry or just thirsty. Drinking water regularly not only keep those confusion away, but it’s also particularly important during and post workout to support peak performance. If you’re not a fan of the taste of water (apparently some people do), you can add slices of lemon to your water bottle. Not only will it give extra fresh zesty taste, lemon water is a good source of vitamin C and also aids digestion.
Let’s do it right, GuavaSweat and reap (#ripped) those muscle gains!