The other half, proper nutrition and rest, is just as important if not more important. Many people overlook how important your nutrition is in gaining muscle. They go to the gym and train hard, but they don't feed their body the right nutrients to build muscle. So they never see any decent results from their training and wonder what they're doing wrong.
You don't want to fall into that trap, so let's take a look at what needs to be done in terms of eating to encourage your body to put on more muscle mass.
The most basic rule you need to follow for your muscle building diet in order to gain muscle weight is to consume more calories than you burn. Without doing this, you aren't physically able to put on any weight at all.
But you must remember that not all calories are created equal, and you need to eat the right types of calories to gain lean, muscular weight and not fat. So forget about all the junk food and crap that you might normally eat.
You need the right high quality food to build muscle effectively, and to avoid gaining extra unwanted body fat.
You can't totally avoid gaining a little extra fat when putting on size, as it's inevitable, but you can greatly reduce it by eating mostly healthy nutrient-rich foods that your body will actually use instead of storing as fat.
To gain weight and build muscle effectively I'd personally recommend to forget about the traditional "3 square meals a day" approach of eating. For your muscles to build and repair you need to constantly provide them with the right nutrients throughout the day. So this means you need to increase your meal frequency.
Every 2-3 hours you should have a meal consisting of high quality protein, carbohydrates, and some fat, to keep your body in what is called an anabolic, muscle-building state. These meals should be small in size and spread throughout the day. So this makes for 5-7 meals a day in your muscle building diet.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of 2-3 larger ones will also help you greatly in having steady energy throughout the day. We all know about the energy crash you can get after having a huge, heavy meal.
To build muscle you must follow a high protein diet plan. Protein is the most important nutrient in your muscle building diet, it's purpose is to build and repair muscle tissue in your body. It's important that all your 5-7 meals throughout the day include a high quality protein source.
For best results in building muscle, you should consume anywhere between 1-2 grams of protein a day per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds then you will need to have between 160-320 grams of protein spread through each day.
The protein you eat should come from high quality protein sources. Some examples of good sources of protein are the following:
Carbohydrates are also important in the muscle building process. You should try to eat carbs that are lower on the glycemic index, since they won't promote fat storage as much as higher-glycemic carbs might.
Some examples of quality carbs to build muscle are apples, brown rice, oatmeal, wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, and of course vegetables. Learn more about which carbohydrates you should include in your diet with our article Good Carbohydrates For Muscle Building.
Believe it or not, fats are essential to your muscle building diet. Good fats (unsaturated fat) have positive effects on your muscle gains and should be included in the diet.
Some good sources are flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, natural peanut butter and avocados. Try to stay clear of saturated fats as much as you can, but a little is ok now and then. Read more about healthy fats as a food for building muscle.
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