When you think about the process of bulking up, you probably think about lifting weights and other forms of resistance training. While these are indeed a time-honored and effective way of building muscle, nutrition is just as important…and maybe more so. If you want to build the perfect machine, you need the perfect parts, and it really is that simple. However, there is some specific knowledge that can help you adjust your diet for maximum muscle gains.
Protein Is the Key
We cannot stress enough the importance of protein in this regard. Your body literally cannot build muscles without this key substance. You may have noticed that you rarely see a fat person with a lot of muscle. While fat and muscle are not opposed to one another, they tend to fight for dominance. Those who are getting a lot of nutrition without getting enough protein will tend to gain weight, and that weight will mostly consist of fatty tissue.
Protein is like a building block that your body uses to repair damaged muscles. It doesn’t require a serious injury for this process to begin, and that’s why resistance training works so well. Things like weight lifting and resistance band pulling create tiny micro-tears in the muscle tissue. The body, reacting as normal, commits resources to repair the damage. After the minor damage is repaired, they tend to keep going for a little while longer.
This is how muscles are built
It is important to concentrate on amino acids. These are a special kind of protein that works directly on muscle size. A food that is high in protein but low in amino acids (note: such foods are rare) will not give you the gains that you seek. A lot of people have reported good results from the use of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), particularly when it comes to quick recovery. As such, you might want to use a BCAA supplement to make sure that you get enough of these three essential proteins.
Creatine is another popular protein supplement. Found naturally in many kinds of red meat, this is a blend of three different amino acids (methionine, arginine, and glycine) that has been used by bodybuilders for a long time. Of course, all amino acids are good for your muscles, so choose whichever one suits your fancy.
Carbs Are The Obstacle
Unlike some people, we aren’t going to try and steer you toward a low-carb diet. Indeed, such a diet is not sufficient for an active person and tends to result in sluggishness and fatigue. This happens because carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fast energy. When you are doing something that exerts you, the body taps into its glycogen stores to provide the immediate energy that you need to get the job done. That glycogen is created from raw material, and carbs are the raw material in question.
So, to put it simply: More carbs equal more glycogen and more glycogen equals more energy. Sounds good, right? Well, there’s one little problem. When your body is using glycogen, it isn’t using anything else! Thus, you cannot burn fat while burning glycogen. The body tends to use carbs first, and when those run out, it begins to use fat. Only after burning a significant amount of fat does your body tap into that protein.
To control this problem, you need to make sure that you do not eat a huge amount of carbs before a workout. Sure, it might help you train longer, but it will keep your body from doing the things you want. In addition, excess carbs tend to become fat rather than becoming muscle like protein would do.
Don’t Cut Out Too Much Fat
Fat is not always the enemy. Believe it or not, the body actually needs a certain amount of fat in order to process a lot of protein. For a good example of why fat is so important to the proper use of protein, let’s look at a phenomenon called rabbit starvation.
Rabbit meat is extremely high in protein. In fact, it’s one of the most high-protein meats in the world. However, it is also one of the leanest meats. Because of this combination, you can literally starve to death on a diet of rabbit meat.
Fat also helps your body to absorb vitamins, and it contributes to brain health in several ways. To balance these needs with your desire to stay slim, you should avoid trans (or unsaturated) fats and concentrate on healthy unsaturated fats. We recommend seeds and nuts as a great source of unsaturated fats. Nuts and seeds also tend to be high in other nutrients, making them a healthy and filling snack.
There is no doubt that your diet and nutritional intake will play a key role in your ability to build muscle. If you really think that a trip to the gym every few days is all you need, then you probably need to think again. To recap the essential points: Eat lots and lots of protein, avoid overloading on carbs (especially before a workout), and make sure that you don’t go overboard when cutting fat from your diet. If you do these three things, you should have an easier time getting pumped up like the Greek god that you aspire to be. If we have helped you in that quest, we invite you to follow us on Facebook to learn more.