The basics of building lean muscle are quite simple. We need to ensure that we are eating a small calorie surplus daily, we are getting enough bioavailable protein to assist in protein synthesis and that we are placing enough stimulus on our body to create a progressive overload.
Other important factors include the amount of rest and recovery we give our muscles, and how well hydrated we keep our bodies.
Before we look at each of those elements individually, let’s look at the health benefits of building lean muscle.
Our muscles don’t only help us move, they also help protect our bones, organs and soft tissue. Gaining lean muscle will certainly make us stronger and more able to go about our daily lives. Lean muscle can also help us lose weight, our muscles require energy and therefore the more lean muscle we have, the more calories we burn. The more lean muscle mass we have, the faster our metabolism is.
One thing we need to remember when we start looking to build lean muscle is that we are all different. Some of us will find it easier to put build muscle, while others will take more time. The key is to remain consistent in what we do, and remember it will take time, build healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Last Wednesday we discussed the kind of foods we should consume after a workout, and in other posts, we’ve discussed how often we should workout… please scroll back through our timeline to read those very informative posts.
Let’s discuss what our muscles need in order to grow.
Muscles require the right amount of nutrients to grow, that includes protein, carbs, and fat, but how many calories do we need?
In order to understand how many calories we will need to start with, there is an easy way to calculate this by multiplying our total body weight in pounds by 15-17 calories. There are also many online tools that we can use.
Protein is a vital building block for our muscles and we need to consume roughly 1g of protein per 1lb of our body weight. Complete proteins give our bodies the full spectrum of amino acids, for example, any lean animal source, dairy, eggs, fish, and some protein powders. For vegetarians, opt for grains and pulses, soya and tofu, or combine nuts with whole grains to make a complete protein.
After our protein calories, we have to decide where we are going to get the rest of our calories from, Carbohydrates of good fats? Our bodies need a certain amount of carbs in order to provide our muscles with glycogen, but we can also create energy by burning fat.
There are many ratios floating around the internet, claiming to be the best for building muscle… yet as we are all different, it is best to keep a food diary to see what works best for us, we shouldn’t be afraid to experiment for better results. Sometimes, decreasing our carbs and increasing our good fats can show remarkable fat-loss results. We must get to know our bodies!
The bottom line is that we need to keep track of our gains both in terms of lean muscle and body fat. If we don’t see any muscular gain, then we need to increase our calorie intake. If we see gains in both muscle and body fat, then we need to decrease our calorie intake.
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