Nutrition plays a vital role in building muscle for strength and power. It’s generally thought that with training and an appropriate diet you can increase your body mass by 2 to 4 kg per month, but individuals can respond differently. It’s vital that you’re consistent with your training and diet. Some people fall into the trap of training and eating well for a couple of days then lapsing for several days, which can slow your training down. This article will give you some hints and tips on nutrition for gaining muscle.
What should I eat to gain muscle?
To gain muscle you will need to ensure that you’re eating the correct amount of calories during the day. You will probably find that you need to increase your daily dietary intake. In general, you will need an extra 500 calories a day. If you don’t take in enough calories then the protein that you consume will be used for energy instead of building muscle tissue.
If you’re training hard then you should eat plenty of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. During moderate intensity days, get 5 to 7 g of protein per kg of body weight and for high intensity training days you will need 7 to 10 g per kg of body weight. It’s important that you meet your increased protein needs. However, most people don’t need large intakes and usually 1.2 to 2g of protein per kg of body mass each day will ensure that your needs are met. If you consume more than you need it could lead to gain in body fat. It will also mean that you don’t take in the other important nutrients that you need.
What foods should I avoid?
If you want to gain muscle, stay away from high saturated fat foods because they can increase your risk of gaining fat mass instead of muscle. Examples of these types of food include cheese, cakes and biscuits. Instead, make sure most of your fat comes from unsaturated foods, such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts.
When do I need to eat?
It’s important to eat before exercise to provide enough fuel for your session and after exercise to replenish your stores and help with muscle tissue repair. You will probably need to increase your calorie intake, so eat smaller portions but more frequently throughout the day. This will prevent stomach discomfort and ensure that you stick to your nutrition plan. You may find high energy drinks, such as milk shakes and smoothies, or snacks such as cereal and sports bars are convenient way to ensure you meet your daily needs.
Good sources of protein
Chicken (130g breast = 39g/ 191 Kcal)
Cod (120g= 25g/ 113 Kcal)
Canned tuna (1 tin= 24g/ 99 Kcal)
Egg (1= 8g/ 90 Kcal)
Peanuts (1 handful= 50g/ 301 Kcal)
Quorn mince (100g= 12g/ 86 Kcal)
Brown rice (180g= 5g/ 254 Kcal)
Baked beans (205g= 10g/ 166 Kcal)
Low-fat yoghurt (150g= 8g/ 84 Kcal)
I find it really difficult to increase my calorie intake. What can I do?
Increasing your energy (calorie) intake is essential to make sure you have enough energy to perform. Instead of increasing the size of your meals, eat more frequently. Drinks rich in energy are helpful, including sports drinks and smoothies. If you’re worried about putting on weight, increase your energy intake slowly until you have achieved your goal.