Gaining muscle mass requires a focus on both nutrition and physical activity. You challenge your body through vigorous physical exercises in order to build lean muscle mass, but you also need to consume more calories than what you burn, so what to eat to gain muscle mass?
To fulfil your goal of gaining muscle mass, it is important to focus on regular exercises and muscle-building foods.
In this guide to building muscle mass, we discuss in detail what you should eat to reach your goals faster.
We also share some useful tips that help you meet the nutrition needs to keep the body fuelled for workouts.
Eat More Calories
Increasing calorie intake is the key to building muscle mass. Beginners can increase 300-500 calories per day which would lead to a gain of up to 1 pound every week.
Apart from the quantity, the quality of the foods you eat should be taken into consideration. You should aim to eat clean by choosing foods prepared using simple ingredients.
Whole foods are not only high in nutrients and support your muscle gain but also help you recover faster and promote better energy and overall health.
High-calorie foods are better options for those who find trouble gaining weight. However, this does not mean you should eat junk to hit the calorie goals.
Consider getting oils, fats, proteins from whole foods to get the calories without having to eat up too much.
Don’t Skip The Breakfast
Your breakfast is an important meal when you are trying to put on some mass. This meal fuels your body with energy and helps stay full until the next meal or snack.
A healthy breakfast also prepares you for nutritious and clean eating during the day. Some of the best options for breakfast include cottage cheese, eggs, smoothies and oatmeal.
Eat Multiple Times In A Day
A key to building muscle mass is eating the right food at the right time. As an easy diet, you can eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner as you did and add post-workout, pre-workout meals and snacks.
When you increase your meals, you tend to feel fuller sooner and your waistline reduces. This will also suppress cravings and you won’t feel as hungry.
When you don’t eat for long hours, you can overeat at the next meal or end up grabbing some unhealthy snacks.
So work on fixing meal times and your body will get used to it. Consider eating a snack or a meal every three hours to keep the energy high.
Fuel Your Workouts
Fueling your workouts is quite essential for gaining mass. If you don’t eat before the gym, your body uses up stored energy which means you can lose mass.
Skipping your meals would deprive you of the chance to maintain your calorie intake during the day.
You should consider having a proper pre-workout meal to facilitate intense training, more reps and desired result.
Carbs and proteins are excellent pre-workout foods. Carbs will serve as the energy source if you lift weights or do intensity workout.
Adding protein protects your mass and fuels the training efficiently. However, the timing for each type of food is important. Quick digesting foods like juices and protein shakes can be taken 30 minutes before the workout.
However, starchy carbs like pasta, potatoes and whole grains release energy slowly and should be taken 1-3 hours before the gym.
You can also include a little healthy fat like nuts, peanut butter or avocado to power your exercises. If you don’t eat right before the workout, you can consider a balanced meal that contains whole grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables to give your body the nutrition it needs.
Include Protein In Every Meal
Gaining muscle mass requires a lean protein. So you should be eating at least 1g of protein per 45g of your body weight every day.
The simplest way to accomplish this is by adding a source of protein in each meal you eat during the day. Some of the best sources of proteins are,
Dairy – cheese, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese
Fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel
Poultry – turkey, chicken, duck, eggs
Red meat – lamb, pork, beef
Vegan – nuts, seeds, tofu, lentils
Your body uses protein not just to fuel the functions but for maintaining the enzymes, cells and hormones.
So when you don’t take enough protein in your diet, you break down the muscles as a way to find a new source of protein.
Consume Healthy Fats
It is important to include healthy fats in your diet as they improve your fat loss because they take time to digest. Focus on plant-based sources of fats and seafood as they are more beneficial for your health.
Limit intake of added fats coming from sauces, margarine, butter, oil and toppings. Look for roasted, grilled, steamed or baked foods rather than eating fried or sautéed options.
Drink Plenty of Water
When you train to build strength, your body can experience water loss through sweating. So you should make sure you stay hydrated all the time to avoid any negative impact on muscle recovery.
You should consider drinking 2.5-3 litres of water per day which would increase if you live in a hot climate. You should drink two cups of water with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Focus On Whole Foods
To be able to boost your muscle mass, it is important to make sure a major part of your diet consists of whole foods.
These are unprocessed food items that come as close to their natural form. Some of the best examples of whole foods are fruits, vegetables, eggs, oats, rice, fresh meat, poultry, fish, etc.
You should avoid processed foods containing sodium, added sugars, trans-fats and chemicals like additives and preservatives. Some of the examples of such foods include cereals, frozen meals, fruit bars, cakes, cookies, pizza and sausages.
The most important thing in your muscle gaining program is consistency. Choose a diet that you can stick to.
Focus on getting it right most of the time, build the foundation and keep training on a regular basis to see lasting results.