Although many of us look for information about calories when we want to lose weight, there are many athletes who want to put on weight in the form of lean muscle tissue to improve their performance.
Eating to build muscle tissue is very different from bodyweight maintenance or loss. Our body has over 600 muscles so if you want to add muscle tissue, you will need extra calories. If you don’t want to gain fat mass it’s important to eat the right combination of quality food while you continue to workout.
Gaining muscle mass is an anabolic process, which is completely different from the catabolic process we use when we want to lose weight.
To build additional muscle mass, your body requires extra calories. The exact amount of calories needed for health, activity and gain goals varies from person to person. To get a good estimate of overall metabolic needs, plug your current information and goals accurately into an energy tracking app. You have many to choose from.
Carbs and Healthy Fat
In order to have enough energy, we need carbohydrates. You cannot do a stimulating physical training if you only eat starchy vegetables, grains and fruit leaves. You will feel too fatigued and you won’t be able to build the muscle mass you want.
Drastically restricting carbohydrates forces your body into utilizing stored amino acids for energy, taking away from your muscle mass. These macronutrients also contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to allow the metabolic process of tissue growth to occur.
Consume different kinds of protein
This macronutrient provides amino acids, the building blocks of tissues, to your body. Protein needs increase when aiming to gain muscle. Many athletes associate protein intake with animal intake. Eating meat will help you get protein, but it’s not a clear process: eat more-gain more. Eat high-quality meat, fresh eggs, grass feed beef, and organic dairy.
There are also plants that contain protein. Don’t avoid them. For example, oatmeal is considered a carbohydrate but actually contains 4 grams of protein per cooked cup. Stimulate muscle synthesis and maintain a very healthy, lean body by eating lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, edamame, hummus, mung bean sprouts, quinoa, buckwheat and nuts.
Consume protein at regular intervals and distributed evenly at meals and snacks.
Extra performance boost
To improve muscle synthesis overnight, consume a large dose of casein before going to bed and your body will be working toward your gain goals while you sleep. Muscle tissue actually stores more water than fat tissue. This might be why fit athletes suffer less performance decline from being dehydrated than their less-fit peers. To help your muscles grow, drink more H2O!
When considering your dietary choices as an athlete, it is crucial to determine your goals — aesthetics, performance and health — and choose the types of foods and amounts that correlate with those goals. If you are struggling to match intake with your body and performance goals, reach out to a board-certified sports dietitian who can assist you in building a personalized plan.