So you’re at the gym busting moves for a few hours and nothing is changing. You’ve been going for a few months already and the six-pack abs that you were hoping to have by summer have yet to peak out from under the layer of extra fat you have around your mid-section. So what are you to do?
The best exercise is pushing yourself away from the table and away from all the greasy food you like to eat. Just because you exercise does not mean you can have pizza, arrachera, lechon and arepas and still lose weight and build muscle. It doesn’t work like that.
Building muscles requires the right formula of consumption to help repair your muscle tissue and help sculpt your body.
Fruit and vegetables are the foundation of all healthy diets, providing fiber, vitamins, minerals, and fluids. Vegetables contain small amounts of protein.
Low-fat dairy provides high-quality protein, carbs and essential vitamins such as vitamin D, potassium and calcium. Sports nutritionists recommend chocolate milk as a good workout recovery beverage. If you are lactose intolerant, you can try yogurt with active cultures.
Lean meat is a great source of protein, iron for oxygen transport to muscles, and amino acids including leucine, which is thought to be a trigger for muscle growth.
Dark-meat chicken, compared to white meat, provides 25 percent more iron and three times the zinc for a healthy immune system.
Eggs contain all of the essential amino acids. One a day is fine according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, but don’t throw out the yolk. Half the protein is in the yolk along with other import nutrients like lutein for eye health.
Nuts — unsalted and either raw or roasted — are a good source of protein. They also contain vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats. The fats build up your good cholesterol and help flush out the bad in your system.
Beans and whole grains are quality carbs that contain small amounts of protein for energy and muscle repair along with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
The Importance of Timing
Timing is critical in muscle development because you need carbs and protein to perform strength training and for muscle recovery. The best plan is to eat a diet containing both nutrients and small amounts of healthy fats throughout the day.
Eating or drinking a high protein beverage like protein shakes within the hour after your workout gives the muscle what it needs for the most receptive repair.
If you eat a meal within 1-2 hours after a hard workout it should help to provide recovery nutrition.
How Much Should You Eat?
More than half your calories should come from healthy carbs, since they supply fuel for energy and prevent protein from breaking down and used as energy. Eating carbs for fuel before working out is ideal.
But be careful: It is a delicate balance of eating enough calories to build muscle but not too many calories, which can lead to gaining body fat.
Protein builds and repairs muscle tissue in addition to performing other functions, like producing hormones and immunity factors. Male endurance athletes should get 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, whereas male body builders may need 1.6 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.