Has this ever happened to you? You are on a beach and it seems that at every turn, freakishly ripped people surround you. The guys look like they would be a good candidate for the next World Fitness Model Champion, and you swear you have seen a few of the gals on previous covers of Oxygen Magazine.
You think to yourself, “What the hell are these people doing that I am not?!”
Easy, they follow five “simple” rules. I say “simple” in quotations because if they were really that simple, everybody would have perfect physiques with the ideal muscle-to-fat ratio.
If you are TRULY motivated and dedicated to MAXIMIZE your muscle-to-fat ratio, listen up. The five daily nutritional habits below will help you build a jaw dropping physique. Next time you are at the beach, you will have the other guys (and gals) wondering, “What the hell is he doing that I am not?!”
1. One Gram of Protein Per Pound of Bodyweight
You might think habit is pretty straightforward. You eat protein, your muscle. Easy right? Well the truth might actually shock you…
Most people do not get ENOUGH protein, the protein is not from QUALITY sources or the protein sources are not being ROTATED, and it is not being combined with other macronutrients at the right time in the right or in the right quantities.
A) You need at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. For a 200lb guy, that would be 200 grams of protein. It sounds like a lot but if you divide it over six meals, which is just over 30 grams of protein per meal.
SIX MEALS? That’s right. Six.
You must constantly infuse your body with that much protein every three hours to stimulate protein synthesis and create an anabolic environment for the body.
B) Your body is only as strong as its’ weakest amino acid. A diet that only includes one or two protein sources will limit your muscle-to-fat ratio. This is because the body craves a wide range of amino acids for proper function. Not only that, but consuming very few protein sources may create food allergies.
I recommend eating protein from several sources throughout the day. Ideally, never more than two of the same protein sources in a given day. If you are really ambitious, make it a different protein source at each meal. Good sources of protein could include but are not limited to: white fish, salmon, beef, eggs and egg whites, chicken, turkey, bison, turkey, and whey protein.
C) Combining your protein sources with the correct macronutrient may be the BIGGEST mistake I see people making. This could make or break your efforts in creating a lean and muscle body!
For example, consuming protein and carbohydrates IMMEDIATELY post workout preps your body to start protein synthesis and replenish glycogen stores. In fact, a ratio of 3:1 or as high as 4:1 in terms of carbohydrates to protein has been shown to increase the rate of protein synthesis by 70%!
Not only that, but having carbohydrates post workout diminishes the effect of stress hormones like cortisol, and saves your muscle from protein breakdown.
2. Veggies with EVERY meal
I have already mentioned you should have six meals a day. With those meals you should have 1-2 cups of vegetables- preferably GREEN vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale, green beans, etc.
Not only are these foods extremely low in caloric value, they are jam packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants.
Vegetables (especially greens) are high in nitric oxide to aid in the delivery of oxygen to working muscles to help your performance in the gym.
And if that wasn’t enough, eating vegetables with every meal has been shown to alkalize your body. By alkalizing your body, you are creating an anabolic environment for muscle growth and fat burning.
3. One “freebie” meal a day
Really? YES, REALLY!
“Cheat” or “re-feed” meals have their place in the process of maximizing muscle-to-fat ratio in the body. The goal here is to refuel the body and stimulate metabolism.
Ideally, try to make these meals ones that are high in carbohydrates and protein but low in fat. A 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is ideal, and GO BIG or GO HOME!
By refueling your body you will be optimizing your hormone levels that tell your body you are full, helps in muscle protein synthesis and recovery, and it switches your metabolism from one of starvation to one of fat-burning.
Anybody want a heaping plate of pasta and meatballs right now?
4. Carbohydrates at the right TIME in the right QUANTITIES
The general public and fitness enthusiasts have become fanatical when it comes to the consumption of carbohydrates. More specifically, they believe that low or no carbohydrate diets are the only way to go when you want to maximize the muscle-to-fat ratio. WRONG!
I am here to tell you it is absolutely acceptable to eat carbohydrates, but you have to EARN THEM. This is another make or break habit.
I recommend one gram of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight. But timing is extremely important.
If at all possible, the following intake for your carbohydrates is idea:
A) Three hours before a workout: This helps optimize growth hormone release
serotonin levels to help you burn-fat (growth hormone), build muscle (growth
hormone), and “feel good, respectively (serotonin). As well, three hours allows for enough time
for the nutrients to get into the muscles for work.
B) Thirty minutes INTO the workout: This can be accomplished with a carbohydrate powder. The idea here is that you will spike your insulin to prevent muscle catabolism, increase protein synthesis, and blunt the effects of cortisol (a stress hormone).
C) One and four hours after a workout: Here, use whole foods and slow-digesting carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, etc. Your body has a significantly improved ability to use nutrients during this time. Take advantage! This will ultimately help build lean muscle and shed fat.
5. Fish oils
One of the most underutilized supplements out there is fish oil. I know that is boring. You wanted to hear about the magic pill that cuts 5% of your body fat in 5 days.
Well, I am here to tell you that this “boring” supplement is a game changer when it comes to your muscle-to-fat ratio. And there are two major benefits to take fish-oils daily:
A) Reducing inflammation. This helps with the reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness from training.
B) Improving insulin sensitivity. In doing to, you will be using glucose in the best possible way - shuttled it into muscle for use instead of stored it in fat. This is so pivotal in the battle to gain muscle while losing fat.
You can take fish oils evenly throughout the day with your meals. An ideal fish oil intake is one gram of fish oil per gram of body fat. That means if you have 25% body fat, you will be taking 25 grams of fish oil spaced out through the day.
Whelp, there it is- five of the absolute best nutritional habits to maximize your muscle-to-fat ratio. What you do with this information is up to you.