Building muscle is not an easy process. It requires hard work and dedication, not just in the gym, but also in the kitchen. If you want to add lean muscle mass to your frame without gaining too much fat you’re going to have to get a solid nutrition plan in place.
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to build mass, lean muscle will increase your stamina, improve the efficiency of your metabolism, and optimize your overall daily function – not to mention you will look good! But gaining strictly lean muscle is a challenge, since bulking requires a large calorie intake, which if not controlled properly can lead to more gains on fat than muscle.
A restricted-calorie diet may be beneficial if you are looking to cut-down on your weight index or even maintain a certain size. For bodybuilders this just won’t work – reduced diets will impede the efforts in the gym and stop you from gaining. Of course, this does not mean that you should run straight to the food and start mowing-down in order to put on size. While bodybuilders need 250-300 calories in addition to what has been spent in the workout each day, there does need to be a structured diet to make the most out of each visit to the gym.
Structure may be as simple as eating 6 well-proportioned meals a day. This would certainly help to prevent snacking and would keep the metabolism running at full-capacity. If you decide to spread out your meals, it is important to note that breakfast and post-workout meals should be the biggest. This is simply because this is when your body must replenish. In respect to what you should be eating, well that takes careful contemplation and measurement:
One of the most common rules for protein is that for every pound of body weight you should have a gram of protein (this may also equate to 35% of your daily calorie limit). With this said, the body can only use so much protein at one time, meaning that it is important to spread it out over the day – most importantly, before and after working out. Be sure to stick with lean proteins such as egg whites, fish, white chicken and turkey mean, and whey or soy isolate supplements. These are high in protein and low in fat. But this does not mean that fat and carbs should be neglected altogether – in fact it’s the opposite; these are just needed in different amounts at different times.
Since carbs are responsible for providing your body with the energy needed to complete a workout, the intake levels should be adjusted on a day to day basis. On off-training days, scale back on the carbs since your body will not be as dependent on them to perform. Always try your best to avoid simple, or “sugary”, carbs and stick with whole grains, fruits, and veggies. While it is best to aim for 40-60 grams of protein per meal, some experts also agree that 40-80 grams of carbs is also a good goal – this of course should be adjusted in proportion to your physical activity and body size. Carbs will be most beneficial first thing in the morning, post-workout, and 1 to 1 ½ hours prior to going to the gym.
It is important to understand that there are many different fats and that healthy fats are not to be among the others when considering a diet for lean muscle. Healthy fats may come from organic oils and nuts and help absorb vitamins in the body while also regulating hormone production. In addition, healthy fats reduce inflammation, increase heart health, and lower blood cholesterol. Each meal should have between 5 and 10 grams of poly or mono-unsaturated fat.
Supplements and Vitamins
Supplements are a great way to get nutrients to the body fast, especially when you need them the most. Supplements for Omega 3, fish oil, proteins, and other vitamin deficiency pills come highly recommended for a diet devoted to gaining lean muscle mass. If taking any supplements be sure to read the label and be safe – drink adequate amounts of water and stay hydrated.