- Higher Calories
One of the most overlooked factors in muscle building fitness is a focus on consuming enough protein but not eating enough calories per day. Your body needs protein to grow. However, adequate protein alone does not always produce growth. You need to consume adequate calories also.
A good rule to follow is to take your bodyweight and multiply this by 10 to 12 + 1000-1500 kcal/day depending on your fitness level and if you’re trying to shred body fat. For many this will jack up the total calories you’re to consume each day. So, eat 6 meals or times of the day. Although this may seem like a lot, it really isn’t. If you divide 2400-3000 calories into 6 smaller meals a day, then each meal will consist of approximately 400-500 calories.
Although it takes a lot of discipline, eating smaller and more frequent meals will pay off in the end. Another reason to eat smaller meals is for the release of insulin. When you consume food, your blood glucose levels will rise. To counteract this, your body will release insulin to lower blood glucose levels to help keep the body in a state of homeostasis. This is a good thing!
- Adequate of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are needed to fuel your body for exercise. The storage form of carbohydrates is glycogen. The idea here is to super saturate glycogen levels so that the body never has to dip into protein for energy production. The higher the level of glycogen in your body, the more likely you’re going to remain in an anabolic state.
Carbs also play a role in the release of insulin, the body’s most potent anabolic hormone. It promotes gluconeogenesis, protein synthesis, and the formation of adipocytes. In short, the release of insulin is required to promote an anabolic environment and carbs help by releasing insulin. Consider consuming 1 gm carb/lb of body weight as a starting equation.
For high intensity workouts consider: 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. And on rest days, drop your carbs to 1-1.5 grams, since you won’t be burning up carbs in the gym. Factor in less carbs if fat-shredding and more carbs if fitness workouts are at a high to very high level. Eat as many complex carbs as you desire and only consume simple carbs, sugars, and fruits soon after waking and within 30 minutes after a strenuous workout.
- Boost Protein
Muscle is protein and protein is composed of amino acids. You can’t build big muscles without an adequate supply of protein. Think of building muscle as building a castle with Lego blocks. If you don’t have the pieces to start with then you cannot build the castle.
Eating enough protein is an absolute, so you should consume anywhere between 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Bodybuilders on the upper end of that scale and fitness-conscious/focused individuals should be at the lower end or above. The best way to achieve this intake is to break the supply of protein into smaller servings throughout the day for better absorption.
- Good Fats
One mistake lifters and fitness buffs make is not eating enough good fats. Monounsaturated fat is especially important for maintaining testosterone levels and enhancing overall health. The essential omega-3 fats found in fatty fish encourage better muscle and joint recovery.
For your fat intake, consume 1/2 gram of fat per pound of body weight per day. One-third of that should be saturated, 1/3 should be monounsaturated fat, and the other 1/3 should be omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. Good sources of fat is salmon which contains omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids, flaxseed oil, and conjugated linoleic acid
- Efficient Pre-workout Meals
The best thing to consume before a workout is a meal consisting of slow burning complex carbs or Shakeology®. The reason is that slow burning carbs take longer to convert into glucose thus keeping blood sugar levels relatively consistent. This keeps your body from having an energy crashing allowing you to train longer and harder.
Be sure to combine this meal with a healthy serving of good protein as well to maximize gains.
- High Quality Post-workout Meals
The meal right after you train should be high in fast burning carbs and protein. The ideal candidate for this would be a protein shake coupled with some form of sugar.
Personally, I prefer Beachbody® “P90X Results and Recovery” drink mixed with 1-2 tiny scoops of creatine. When you train, you put your body in a catabolic state. You tear it down so that it can build itself back bigger and stronger. However, if you don’t supply the raw building blocks, it cannot efficiently repair itself? For the average person, a 40 gm protein shake and 75 gm of carbs is plenty.
- Water and Hydration
One of the most overlooked factors in exercise is adequate water consumption. This should be a no-brainer since water comprises up to 70% of the body and if you’re dehydrated; your muscle size suffers as well.
I believe that one pound of muscle can hold up to three pounds of water. Drink the same number of ounces in water as you weigh in pounds.
The number one overlooked factor in building a better body is rest. Our bodies need the stimulus to grow through intense training.
Since our bodies are essentially “broken down” then afterwards, it needs the proper nutrients and recovery time to grow bigger and stronger so that it can be broken down again. I suggest you set aside a day or two of rest each week.