Muscle building: nutrition& tips

Veronika Pepper

Carbohydrates, proteins, fats: eating right is part of strength training. Here you will find out which meals are important, how to plan your diet for muscle building as well as interesting facts about nutritional values and cool tips.

Table of contents:

How nutrition helps to build muscle?

During strength training, your body consumes a lot of energy, which is measured in kilo-calories (kcal). But you also burn calories while repairing and strengthening muscle cells (while your muscles are recovering = regeneration phase). You get this energy from food – mainly from the following 3 nutrients:

  • Proteins: Better known to strength athletes as proteins. They accumulate in your injured muscle cells to repair and enlarge them. 1g of protein provides approx. 4 kcal.
  • Fats: contain a lot of energy. 1g fat brings approx. 9 kcal. Muscle building is mainly about unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, many vitamins are fat-soluble – d. h. if you eat them without fat, the body excretes them again.
  • Carbohydrates: provide your body with a big boost of energy for muscles and brain. About 4 kcal per gram. "Carbs" also provide the metabolism of protein and fat. Only through carbohydrates you can use the other two nutrients properly.

Always fill your depots well with these 3 nutrients in combination while building muscle. But also vitamins, fiber and minerals belong in your diet plan! But: for effective muscle growth food alone is not enough. Training tailored to this is just as important – more on this in the following article:

Food for muscle building

About half of your daily calories (50%) should come from carbohydrates to build muscle. Up to approx. 20% you take from fats, the rest in nutrients (ca. 30%) from proteins.

Carbs are found in many popular foods, such as. B. Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, etc. We recommend you for effective muscle building mainly carbohydrates from whole grain products.

you also need fat to build muscle. Go mainly for unsaturated fatty acids, such as Omega 3. You can find them in fatty fish like tuna and salmon. Plant sources are: Nuts, legumes, vegetable oils or avocados.

Protein foods for muscle building are various dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc).) but also eggs, fish and meat. As a vegan, you resort to plant sources, such as legumes and soy products.

Muscle building: food table*:

Muscle building: nutrition & tips: Salmon

Muscle building: nutrition & tips: Oatmeal

Training phases& Nutrition

Your muscle building training basically consists of two nutrition phases. In both, a proper meal is crucial and super important.

  1. Build-up or mass phaseHere you build muscle mass and gain weight. Bodybuilders call this phase also: "Bulk".
  2. Fat loss or definition phaseHere you burn a lot of fat. Your muscles become more visible and your body gets in shape.

1. Mass phase: what to eat to build muscle?

In the build-up phase you train so that your muscles grow. For this your body needs an extra portion of fuel. To keep your muscles well nourished, in the so-called "bulk phase" you take more calories than your body needs = about 2 g of protein and less than 1 g of fat per kilogram of body weight. The rest you cover from carbohydrates. Foods such as chicken, salmon, whole wheat pasta, eggs, lean curd cheese, skyr or oatmeal are good foods when building muscle.

To build muscle without excess calories: If you eat too few carbs, you first burn your fat reserves and only then build muscle. Therefore more calories are already important. Disadvantage: Your body stores the excess calories as fat, which you then have to get rid of in the definition phase (more on that in a moment). As a beginner, you also build muscle without a calorie surplus, but you will quickly reach your limits.

2. Definition phase: Healthy nutrition for fat loss

In the definition phase you take in less calories than you consume. This is how you burn the stored fat from the build-up phase and lose body weight. But, be careful: losing weight too fast is not healthy! Rather make sure to eat less carbohydrates and saturated fatty acids (amino acids!) and to take more dietary fiber in return. And: protein-rich nutrition is still the order of the day. Lean meat and lots of fruit and vegetables are now on your plate. Spinach with tofu and a small portion of potatoes is z. B. a good meal for fat loss.

Calorie surplus& -calculate deficit

How many calories do you actually consume per day?? Roughly you can orientate yourself by the following formula: Per kilogram of body weight, a man at rest consumes about 24 kcal per day. Do you weigh z. B. 80 kg, is the calculation:

80 kg x 24 kcal/kg = 1.920 kcal

The value is slightly lower for women. Therefore you multiply it again with the factor 0,9. So a 65 kg woman consumes approximately:

65 kg x 24 kcal/kg x 0.9 = 1.404 kcal

Note: This value is then multiplied by the so-called PAL value (Physical Activity Level) – this gives your total calorie requirement. Depending on how much muscle mass you have and how active you are during the day, your total energy requirement will be higher or lower. For this, it is best to get advice from your gym and/or a (personal) trainer. By the way Fitness First we analyze your basal metabolic rate with a professional scale during a free trial training – so you get a much more accurate value.

From these values you can calculate your weekly calorie requirement. Depending on how much muscle you want to build and train, you eat about 300-500 calories more per day in the build-up phase, and approx. 500 kcal less per day.

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