It’s no more a secret that growing big requires lifting heavy-ass weights in the gym and following top-class diet routine. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. One can gradually (however not easily) master the art of heavy lifting but not all can do the lifting that is to be done in the kitchen.
You can either start treating yourself on to a serious diet strategy or you can simply eat whatever you want and add inches to your stomach and never see your abs again. Make your choice.
Carb Strategy for Building Lean Muscle:
Before you think of what your gym trainer or “guru” told you about how carbs are very bad and stuff like that, let me make it very clear that carbs are neither too bad nor too good. It’s like an aerial walk on a thin wooden plank from what you look now to what you want to look like. And for you to survive without tripping over from either side of the rope, you should certainly follow these carb intake rules –
Rule #1 – Consume moderate amount of complex carbs in most meals
One of the major benefits of eating slow digesting carbs aka complex carbs is that it keeps the body away from catabolism. Apart from it, slow carbs also keep a check on blood-sugar levels and thereby help in preventing the insulin spike. Various studies have concluded that athletes and bodybuilders who consume slow carbs instead of fast carbs have more energy during the workout and tend to burn more fat throughout the day.
Rule #2 – Choose only slow digesting carbs prior to weight training session
Going up to the gym on an empty stomach will do worse for your body than any good. And chances are that you might end up crashing in the middle of your training session. So, the only way through which you can save yourself from such humility is by fueling yourself with slow carbs before your workout.
These slow carbs will provide you energy in small tokens throughout your workout so that you don’t have to call it off halfway. Moreover, complex carbs keep insulin levels quite low; hence, they won’t affect fat-burning process while you train.
Rule #3 – Refuel your body with fast carbs after training
Unlike pre-workout, where you have to take in slow carbs, post workout nutrition is incomplete without fast carbs. After a hard workout that you just did, your body is starving of fuel as it just lost much of its glycogen stores during the exercise.
Now to replenish the lost energy, these fast carbs will dramatically increase insulin level which will help in the proper delivery of amino acids and protein to the muscles so that they can recover faster.
Moreover, various studies have shown that ingesting fast carbs along with protein post workout tend to increase muscle recovery and growth.
Also read – 6 Things everyone must do after every workout
Rule #4 – Lower down your carb consumption as day progresses
What’s the first thing you do when you go on a long road trip to somewhere? You refuel your car’s gas tank. Same is the case with the body.
Breakfast or you may even call it the first meal of the day is the best time to get in most of the carbs along with the quality of protein so that you start off the day with utmost energy.
Lower down your carb consumption as the day progresses just to make sure that you don’t put on unnecessary body fat.
Best sources of Carbs for building lean muscle – Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Brown Rice, Oats, Blueberries, Bananas, Chestnuts, Low-fat Yogurt, Baked potatoes, Whole grain bread, Quinoa.
Protein strategy for building lean muscle:
While carbs are useful for replenishing the glycogen stores and promoting muscle recovery, they hardly build any muscle. For building lean muscle, you need protein and lots of protein.
The simple rule of thumb says to consume at least 1gm of protein per pound if bodyweight. And the good news is that this rule is approved by Arnold aka Austrian Oak aka every newbie’s first bodybuilding idol himself. Here are few more things you should keep in mind about ingesting protein –
Rule #1 – Bolster up your gains with a post-workout whey protein shake
You may have wondered at times that why so many people put a lot of stress on post workout nutrition. Well, the reason is that if you eat right after you workout, the body uses everything you are feeding it very effectively and nothing goes to waste. This muscle protein synthesis can further be increased with the help of fast carbs along with amino acids.
An optimum post-workout shake should consist of 30-40 gm of quality whey protein along with 20-30 gm of casein protein plus fast carbs and amino acids.
Also read – A sneak peek into Arnold’s diet
Rule #2 – Get enough protein in each and every meal
Your protein intake should not be confined to just pre and post workout meals rather you should divide it equally in each meal. Numerous studies have found that people, who included protein in each meal throughout the day, saw better results in fat loss plus preservation of lean muscle mass.
Another study showed that people who ate a full serving of protein in each meal saw better muscle protein synthesis than those who skimped on protein in day meals and loaded up in the evening meal.
Rule #3 – Consume casein protein before bedtime to improve overnight recovery
A study conducted in 2012 proved that protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery – something that many bodybuilders have been doing since many years. While whey protein works best for quick absorption, casein protein (a slow-absorbing protein) prevents muscle wasting during sleep and thus it is an ideal choice before bedtime.
Best sources of protein for building lean muscle – Cottage cheese, Eggs, Milk, Whey protein, Steak, Chicken Breast, Turkey breast, Salmon, Lentils, Bacon, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Mixed nuts, Green peas.
Fat strategy to build lean muscle:
Fats are essential for bodybuilders as they facilitate with energy and aid with growth and development. A bodybuilder’s lean muscle meal plan should consist of a good amount of healthy fats from sources nuts, olive oil, avocado and others.
Rule #1 – Include nuts in breakfast to get good fats and energy
Fats being the most calorie-dense macronutrients can easily provide you with much-needed energy at the start of the day. Apart from it, fats in early morning breakfast also helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Rule#2 – Eat healthy fats before bed to preserve muscle mass
The fact that fat digests slowly than carbohydrates makes it an optimum choice to slower down protein absorption and thereby your muscles keep on getting fuel throughout the night. Peanut butter or Almond butter along with your bedtime shake will preserve your lean muscle mass so that you don’t wake up to see no gains.
Best sources of healthy fats for building lean muscle – Peanut butter, Almond butter, Avocado, Extra virgin olive oil.
Also published on Medium.