What You Need To Know About Muscle Gain
The only way to build muscle is to challenge your body through weight training regularly.
Your efforts should not stop once you’ve left the gym, however. To effectively gain muscle, you need to look at using the right nutrition throughout your day. Rest and recovery are also key.
Here’s what you need to know to grow maximum muscle.
The Protein Myth
It’s a common misconception that you need masses of extra protein if you want to build muscle. In fact, if you are working out to gain muscle, you only need a fraction more than normal.
|How much protein do you need?
If you are working out, aim for a daily protein intake of between 1.2 and 1.7 g of protein per kg of your body weight.
For example, if you weigh 75 kg, you should be getting from 90 to 128 g of protein every day.
Which Protein Powder do You Need?
Using the right protein powder can make the difference between significant muscle gain and just plateauing.
Protein powders specifically formulated for muscle gain have a much higher carb content than others. Usually, they have about 50 g of protein and 250 g of carbohydrates per serving.
Like whey powder, casein is a dairy-based protein but it is more slowly absorbed than whey proteins.
We carry on building muscle tissue from protein for about 24 hours after a workout. So, to optimise your body’s muscle building capacity, it’s worth having a casein protein drink before you go to bed.
Casein also naturally contains calcium which is essential for muscle function.
Why Muscles Need Carbs
Post-workout is one of the few times when you should eat sugary carbohydrate-rich foods.
Firstly, we need carbohydrates to help the uptake of essential amino acids into our muscles. We get amino acids from protein and these are what our bodies use to build new tissue.
You need around a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein for optimum amino acid uptake, and you need to ingest this within around 30 minutes to 2 hours after a workout for best results.
Commercially-available chocolate flavoured milk is the perfect workout drink as it has 4 parts carbs to 1 part protein.
You don’t necessarily need to religiously find food combinations that give this ratio but just keep in mind that you need a post-recovery snack or meal that has plenty of carbs and a decent amount of protein. Meat and rice is an example of a good combination.
The second very important reason to up the carbs is to stop your body from breaking down muscle after weight training. You burn calories during a workout, and you continue to burn them at a higher rate afterwards. Plus, the more muscle you’re carrying, the more calories you need to maintain it.
If your body doesn’t get the energy (calories) it needs quickly, it will start to raid muscle for its amino acids and use that for fuel.
So, if you’re skinny and can’t seem to gain muscle, this could be what’s happening. Extra carbs from foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes, sweets, and bread may help. Just make sure you’re doing this in combination with weight training otherwise it will turn to flab.
If you find that you are doing regular weight training but gaining fat, you either need to cut back a bit on carbs or up the ante on your exercise routines.
Don’t Skip Rest Days
Rest is as important as work-out days. Every time you work out small micro-tears occur in your muscle fibres. When they repair, they grow new muscle fibres. This is how you gain muscle, but the essential part of this process is to rest and allow this repairing and rebuilding stage to occur.
Taking no rest during your week means muscles will be too stressed, unable to repair and you’re more likely to suffer injury.
|Great Post-Workout Foods to Boost Muscle Growth
|Chocolate flavoured milk
|Protein shake and banana
|Meat followed by a handful of dates
|Boiled egg sandwich
|Sliced banana spread with peanut butter
|Porridge and chopped banana or brown sugar