Thursday, May 10, 2012

8 Steps to a Muscle-Building Diet

Everyone talks about calories. Whether the goal is to lose weight or gain muscle, everyone wants to know that magic number. The truth is that everyone’s caloric needs are different. The exact amount has to do with existing body weight and activity level. If you’re an average person, you need to consume 10 calories for every pound of body weight just to maintain your existing weight. Gradually increasing that by an additional 500-1000 calories a day will help with weight gain. In fact, an additional 7 calories per pound are required to be able to perform intense weight training exercises and cardio. So, for example, a 170 pound individual would need to consume 2,890 calories a day in order to be able to build quality muscle (170 x 17 = 2890).

The percentage of where these calories are coming from is equally important. Bodybuilders do well with a 40/30/30 ratio, 40% complete complex carbs, 30% protein and 30 % fats. This, of course, is a guideline. Listen to your body; everyone has different dietary responses. Your metabolism, body fat levels and insulin sensitivity will all factor in on how your body responds. If you are not seeing results or aren’t happy with how you feel, make adjustments until you arrive at a ratio that works for you.

Ideally, when attempting to build muscle, your overall goal should be to gain anywhere from half a pound to two pounds of muscle each week. Adding extra calories, above your normal intake, will promote faster results. There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to do this. The tips below can help you in your muscle building diet regime.

  1.  Start your day off right with an organic greens supplement. Infusing your body with vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients, amino acids, alkaline salts and chlorophyll is a great way to wake up. Not only will you be neutralizing acid but you will be ensuring that your cells are able to thrive in a healthy environment.
  2.  Create a rhythm to your meals by eating five, calorie-rich meals at regular intervals throughout the day. Be sure to include healthy, whole foods as well as one muscle-building, protein shake each day. The extra calories may initially seem excessive, but are necessary to aid muscle growth.
  3. In addition to eating at regular intervals, be sure to space your carbs out throughout the day as well. In fact, consuming carbs before training, during training, 1 hour after training and 4 hours after training is ideal. The key is to only give your body carbs when needed for intense activity. 
  4.  In addition, to spacing your carbs out at key points throughout the day it is equally important to vary the source of your carbs. Consuming strictly potatoes at every meal does not help your body perform at its peak and may cause food allergies. For the best results, alternate between potatoes, yams, brown rice, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal, beans and small amounts of fruit. If you are substituting a shake for a meal, the best solution would be a carb powder like Vitargo or Karbolyn, which are the top two choices on the market currently. Gatorade can substitute in a pinch. 
  5.  Proteins are an important part of any muscle-building diet. They help our bodies boost both digestion and absorption. Be sure to vary your protein sources, selecting from quality options like buffalo, sirloin, poultry, salmon and eggs. If you are substituting a protein shake, hydrolyzed protein is the top powder supplement. 
  6.  Don’t forget your veggies. They taste good and they’re good for you. Adding a least 1 cup of vegetables to your plate at every meal helps with digestion, absorption and controlling blood sugar levels. 
  7.  Like everything else, change up the sources of your fat at every meal. Eating a variety of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is good for you. There are many great sources to use that are healthy and taste great.  Try nuts and seeds (walnuts, pecans, cashews or almonds as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds), nut butters, coconut oil and olive oil. 
  8. Drinking a shake 30 minutes into your workout not only keeps you hydrated but also helps to reduce the effect of cortisol being released into your bloodstream and to encourage muscle growth. Be sure to include 30-50 grams of carb powder, 5-10 grams of glutamine, 5-10 grams of branch chain amino acids, and 3-5 grams of creatine for a powerful boost.

Just to give you a better understanding of what these tips mean in terms of real food, here is a sample daily meal plan for a person weighing 200 pounds who is interested in gaining muscle. Of course, you can adjust this according to your needs, personal tastes and budget.
Sample Meals:
Meal 1
8 oz of extra lean beef
3 whole eggs
1 cup of veggies
2 ounces of mixed nuts

Meal 2 (Pre-Workout)
8 oz of white fish 
2 cups pasta (preferable whole wheat)
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 cup of veggies

Meal 3/ Workout Shake (Begin Sipping During Workout)
80 grams of carb powder + Glutamine, Creatine, BCAA
15 minutes later – 40 grams of isolate protein

Meal 4 (1 Hour Post Workout)
12 oz of chicken 
12 oz of sweet potato
2 cups of veggies

Meal 5 (4 Hours Post Workout)
8 oz of turkey
2 cups of broccoli
1 cup of egg whites
2 cups of brown rice
1 slice of low-fat cheese
1 cup of veggies 

Meal 6:
10 oz steak or salmon
1 cup of veggies
2 oz avocado

The “Freebie” Meal

Everyone gets busy. It happens to the best of us. Work.Family obligations.The alarm clock. I’ve designed this diet plan to allow room for a “Freebie” meal, which is basically anything you want, even a burger and fries. The goal is to hit your calories for the day and move on. Don’t let little hurdles get in the way.

The best way that I have found to follow a diet plan like this is to keep a food log. Use a notebook; make an excel spreadsheet, whatever works for you. Keep track of your calories and break it down by how many grams of protein, carbs and fats you are ingesting. By logging your daily intake, you have a better picture of your journey, where you have been and where you are headed. If you do not feel on pace to hit your goals, you can look over your notes and easily make changes. See where you went wrong or what worked in the past. 

Building muscle is a goal that you can accomplish. The above tips can help you reach that goal. And, just for inspiration:

“An athlete who tells you the training is always easy and always fun simply hasn't been there. Goals can be elusive, which makes the difficult journey all the more rewarding.” (Alberto Salazar)


Chris said...

I will be honest, this seems like way more food than I think I will be able to eat without getting sick. Even if I can do it once or twice a week, I'm just not sure it can be done 7 days a week.

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