Gaining weight is generally not a problem, but packing on muscle is a completely different story. Creating lean muscle will require a comprehensive plan for both your diet and exercise. If you are ready to look and feel your best, then read ahead for a nutritional guide to muscle building.
Clean Bulk or Dirty Bulk?
Even people that completely disregard their diet and eat everything in front of them will only realistically gain a pound or two a week. It might seem like you are consuming quite a bit of food, but our bodies are notoriously efficient when it comes to getting rid of unnecessary calories. Adding either muscle or fat takes quite some time, and you will need to choose whether you would like to carry out a dirty bulk or clean bulk program.
A dirty bulk program essentially means that you are putting on weight as quickly as possible. With the right training program, quite a bit of this weight will come in the form of muscle. Unfortunately, you will also gain a lot of water weight and fat as well. At the end of a dirty bulk program, most people will then need to go through a long “cutting” phase to shed their fat without reducing their strength. A clean bulk, on the other hand, is the process of slowly building muscle instead of fat. These programs are a bit slower and require a well-planned diet, but the results are often spectacular.
Determine Your Protein Intake
According to studies carried out by the University of Western Ontario, people that are attempting to gain muscle will need around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Without getting this amount of protein into your system, your body will look for other sources of energy. Anyone that carries out a rigorous training program without the right amount of protein could actually be hurting their muscle fibers.
Carbs and Fat
Carbohydrates and fat have a bad reputation with many people, but they are absolutely vital to muscle growth. Without carbs and fat in your diet, you will quickly find yourself running out of energy during intense training sessions. As a general rule, complex carbohydrates should be consumed just before or after a workout in order to give you energy. Some of the best options corn, bananas, oats, brown rice, and chickpeas. A healthy diet must also include some saturated and unsaturated fats. You should focus on foods such as avocados, nuts, olives, peanut butter, and fish.
What to Avoid
Gaining lean muscle requires a diet that is filled with lean protein sources, fresh produce, and whole grains. Outside of these few food groups, most other foods should be considered “fillers” that are unnecessary at best and unhealthy at worst. Anyone that wants to see real changes to their body should avoid filling themselves up with sugar-laden energy drinks, alcohol, soda, and processed foods with little or no nutritional value. By avoiding these foods and beverages, you body will make the most out of every calorie you consume.