While bodybuilding is commonly attributed to activities within the gym environment, nutrition makes a huge contribution towards building lean muscle mass. Let’s take a look at the role a good diet plays in this process.
Basics of a Good Diet
Calories vary depending on gender, weight, height, and metabolism. Calorie-counting is not the perfect standard of measurement for weight gain or weight loss. More important than the number of calories you intake, is the source of these calories.
The primary source of calories should come from macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Micronutrients that come from vitamins and minerals are also a factor. We will be breaking down each macronutrient to get a better understanding of how each source helps fuel the body.
How often you should eat
Most of us grew up eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Is eating three meals a day the best way to gain lean muscle mass? The answer is no.
Consistently feeding your body leads to an increase in metabolism, which burns more fat. It is recommended to eat smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day. Some have broken it down further into six smaller meals rather than three hearty meals.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body. They cause the pancreas to create the hormone insulin. As such, when you ingest a large amount of carbohydrates, it can lead to a massive release of insulin, effectively turning the body into a fat-storing machine.
There are two types of carbohydrates:
Complex carbohydrates provide you with sustained energy, unlike simple carbohydrates that give an immediate boost. It is best to try to eat mostly complex carbohydrates daily. The exception to this is in the post-workout meal, where simple carbohydrates replenish the glycogen levels of your body.
Examples of complex carbohydrates include starchy meals such as oatmeal, rice, peas, and sweet potatoes, as well as fiber-filled foods like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and green beans.
Simple carbohydrates give an immediate energy boost, which is why they are recommended after a workout. As mentioned above, they replenish the glycogen levels to facilitate faster recuperation and muscle rebuilding.
Examples of simple carbohydrates include fruits like bananas, apples, grapefruit, oranges, and grapes.
Protein is the building block for all body tissues, including muscles, skin, hair, and nails. It would be impossible to build muscle and burn fat efficiently without protein in the diet.
Foods that contain protein include eggs, turkey, chicken breast, lean meats, and tuna.
Every cell in the body contains some degree of fat as fat lubricates the joints. Eliminating fat from your diet will affect many chemical processes. The body will compensate for this shortage by accumulating too much body fat, and that will slow down or stop testosterone production and muscle building.
Saturated fats are associated with high cholesterol levels and heart disease, and are mostly found in products of animal origin. They are also found in hydrogenation fats. Sources of hydrogenated oil include packaged foods, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oils, and non-dairy creamers.
Polyunsaturated fats are usually found in vegetable oils like corn, cottonseed, sunflower oils, and soybean.
Monounsaturated fats have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. They are high in essential fatty acids and might come with antioxidant properties. Sources include peanut butter, avocados, nuts, and seeds, as well as peanut, canola, sesame oils, and safflower.
Apart from the macronutrients described above, certain supplements can take the place of food sources of macronutrients.
It is recommended that you provide your body with 0.6 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound, but it can be hard to get that from only protein foods. One good alternative is whey protein.
Creatine is another natural supplement that has positive impacts on power, strength, and lean muscle tissue. When consumed, it turns into creatine phosphate in the body. The creatine phosphate is then transformed into another substance known as adenosine triphosphate, which gives energy to the body.
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Omega 3 from fatty fish has proven to be of benefit to the body. However, since seafood tends to be on the pricey side, another option would be omega 3 pure and concentrated oil supplements.
Are you ready to see some results? Begin by calculating your macronutrients to know what you need to eat each day to reach your fitness goals. If possible, divide your macronutrient needs evenly throughout your daily meals to feed your body consistently throughout the day.
Let us know if you have any other questions on calculating or tracking macros!