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A solid foundation for building muscle is created by having a robust nutrition plan that works for you.
No two nutritional plans will ever been the same because everyone has different needs and training goals in terms of building muscle. Therefore, what works for one person may not work for another and you will have to find your own nutritional mojo that works for you (our bulking guide is a good step to helping choose what you should eat).
However, there are some nutritional issues/mistakes that can occur when building muscle and these patterns will be discussed throughout this article.
Therefore, for the scope of this article some common nutritional mistakes will be identified and feel free to tweak any of these issues in your diet plan.
However, remember that you are an individual and there is ‘no one size fits all’ strategy for nutrition and building muscle and the following advice is a only guideline! Again feel free to pick and choose the advice/guidelines to suit your training needs and goals.
The next step…
These issues can be easily eradicated by following some simple advice and more often than not it is an oversight or miscalculation of your macros, eating the wrong foods and too much or little calories. By identifying these key issues and remedying them; should put you on the road to achieving muscle gains.
Don’t Eliminate ‘All’ Fats from your Diet
Many bodybuilders tend to follow a low fat diet because they feel that ‘all’ fats are their worst dietary enemy and these macros are detrimental to their muscle gains.
Not only is this strategy very bad for your general health but it is also hindering and blocking your muscle building potential.
If you are eating a ‘dirty’ calorie diet that is high in trans and hydrogenated fats then you are consuming the wrong types of fats. The body can’t break down these types of artificial fats to use them as energy and they tend to be stored as body fat.
If you have high levels of body fat then your muscle tone and definition will be diminished.
On the other hand dietary fats from eggs, meat and oily fish help with the maintenance of hormone levels. The most important hormone for building muscle tissue is testosterone and yours will be very extremely low if you are banishing these key foods from your daily diet.
Saturated fats have received some bad press in terms of being poor for your health. However, recent research has indicated that saturated fats are essential in your diet for energy production, hormone regulation and general cell health in your body.
Foods that are high in good fats tend to have fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E&K) attached with them. Therefore, if your diet is devoid of these key fats and vitamins then your muscle gains will be further decreased because your body has certain priorities.
One of the body’s main priorities is to maintain a status quo of health/survival and if you are deficient in any macro or vitamins, the body will not embark on the energy zapping process of building muscle.
The fat-soluble vitamins have the following main functions in relation to building muscle:
- Vitamin A- aids in the division and growth of cells (including muscle tissue)
- Vitamin D-regulation of calcium and phosphorus needed for proper function of nerves and muscles
- Vitamin E-aids as an anti-oxidant and stops the cell membranes from being destroyed
- Vitamin K- helps with the maintenance of zinc and magnesium. These are important minerals in the function of testosterone
Another key point to consider is that good fats are energy dense and they help with satiety of foods
If you eat lots of carbs such as bread, grains and low-fat dairy then you are never going to consume enough calories to grow muscle. One tablespoon of oil contains about 125 calories which is good news if you are a hard gainer. However, if you tend to put weight on quickly then keep an eye on your oil intake.
Not Getting Enough Protein
It is common knowledge that protein is the building block of all muscle tissue. The recommended daily amount of protein is 1-2g per kg of bodyweight for bodybuilder because you have a higher demand for this macro then the general population.
Bear mind that carbs and fats help to process the energy to work out but without adequate protein it has got very little to work with. Many lifters are aware that protein is needed for them to build muscle but still are not getting enough. The question is why?
Well, protein unfortunately is not the main part of their main meals and snacks and they are heavily reliant on carbs.
Carbs do have their place in any lifter’s diet as they are needed to drive the amino acids into the muscle but any carbs that are not used as energy are stored as body fat. Every meal should have some type of meat, poultry, fish, cottage cheese, eggs or complete seeds such as quinoa as its main ingredient.
Supplementing with the right protein shakes is also an important catalyst for muscle growth and timings of these shakes is vital to the success of your training goals.
Try to consume 6 small meals of the right calories and macros per day because this keeps your blood sugars high and your body in an anabolic state. This ensures that your body is primed to build muscle and remember that you need you need to consume more calories than you expend to build muscle.
Eat your pre work out meal or protein shake 2 hours before you train. This strategy will allow the food or shake that you have eaten to be readily digested and available to use in your work out.
The meal should be high in protein and complex as this will ensure that you have adequate energy and amino acids for your work out.
After you have completed your work out, you have a forty five minutes window of eating to boost your muscle gains. During this initial forty five minutes period post exercise your body is actively primed to absorb all of the nutrients that aid recovery and restore your glycogen levels.
This is when you really need to raise your insulin levels as this drives the amino acids into the muscle tissues.
This mechanism is imperative for muscle growth and repair and whey protein with a fast acting carb is spot on for this after your work out. After 2 hours of stopping your work out eat a meal that is high in protein and with ample complex carbs.
Don’t have a carb complex because you really need these important marcos to build up your muscle tissue
The Right Calories
Don’t over burden your stomach with large amounts of low density foods such fruit, vegetable and junk carbs; for the main objective of trying to load yourself with calories.
These foods will make you feel stuffed which is rather uncomfortable and focus on energy dense foods such as streaks, eggs, oatmeal and nuts.
Remember that you need to be consuming more calories than you are expending and to pack on muscle you should be eating around 20 calories per kg of bodyweight per day.
As mentioned previously, try to eat every 3 hours as this will keep your insulin spiked and try to be consistent with this approach.