How to Eat When You’re Trying to Build Muscle
Building muscle is not as simple as eating tons of protein, although that’s part of it.If you’re trying to build muscle you will need to be working out so that your muscles break down, but also be feeding your body more protein than it currently has so that they can build themselves back up bigger than before. Here are some more specific guidelines to follow about not only what to eat but how much of it and when.
Many of us get the majority of our protein in a single meal, especially if we stop eating carbs at a certain time of day and mostly focus our breakfasts around that. The issue with this, is that the body is only affected by so much protein at once time, after that adding more on isn’t going to make the difference that it would if you had eaten it at a different time of the day. Instead of going for a piece of toast for breakfast choose something that’s going to work for you. Load up each meal with about 20 grams of protein and you will see greater strides faster.
If you are just starting out with the whole workout thing than you will need to eat more protein than someone who’s been working out for a while. Research has shown that during the first 20 days of a strength training program the muscles increase slightly in size in addition to the normal breakdown and rebuilding that goes on. While it’s slight, it does require more protein to keep making bigger gains.
To get the most gains possible you want to get some protein in about two or three hours before you strength train, and then again within two hours following the workout. Protein synthesis in the body slows down when we sleep, so if you get your workout done in the morning before you eat breakfast you will need to eat your post workout meal as soon as possible.
We often hear the advice to eat carbohydrates before we work out to give us a fast source of energy, but many of us don’t actually need that. If we sit a lot for work and aren’t running around on our feet all day we actually have plenty of carbs in reserve to use already. If you are very active however or you workout more than once a day, then you might need to reevaluate based on your energy levels.
It’s important to know what kind of protein you’re getting in each meal, because different food types have different amino acids which have different effects on the body. For muscle building, you want to get a lot of the amino acid leucine from your protein sources, and you need two to three grams in a meal for it to be affective. A serving of chicken for example covers that, but whey protein and soy are also great sources.
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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.