It’s hard to argue with the idea that you need to eat enough of the right kinds of food to build muscle. But that doesn’t tell you which are the best foods for muscle growth. With all the hype and conflicting advice available, that’s a trickier question. Fortunately, there are some basic facts that help clear things up. Here’s the information you need if you’re going to pick foods to grow muscle.
You’ve Got to Eat Enough to Grow Muscle
You know you have to work hard to stimulate your body to build new muscle. But not everyone realizes that actually building new muscle tissue takes a lot of energy too. Your body has to burn a lot of energy when it builds new muscle. That means you may well have to eat more than you are now to give your body the calories it needs to build bigger muscles.
But don’t get crazy about this. Stuffing yourself with jelly donuts or other junk foods will increase the number of calories you get, but loads of sugar and fat and empty calories won’t help your body build big muscles. You have to choose healthy foods for muscle growth or you’ll just get fat. That’s where the rest of this article comes in.
Protein Makes Up Your Muscles
When you work out hard enough to build new muscles, you’re in reality damaging the muscles that you want to make bigger. Your body responds to the damage by rebuilding the muscles a little bigger and stronger to handle the stress. And since muscles are primarily made of protein, the protein you eat is the construction material your body uses for the work. If you don’t get enough protein, your body won’t be able to make the muscle stronger or even repair the damage you do working out. You’ll fail to make your muscles bigger. In fact, over time, they’ll get weaker and you’ll end up hurting yourself.
Getting the protein you need has got to be your most important eating objective to succeed at. The best sources of high-quality protein are chicken (particularly the breast), turkey, and fish. Eat large quantities of these three high-protein foods. You can also benefit from lean red meats, eggs, and nuts, but you should get most of it from turkey, chicken, and fish.
Carbs Give You Energy
Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel. Without enough carbs, you won’t be able to work out hard enough to build muscle. And even if you do get in the workout somehow, without enough carbohydrates, your body won’t have enough energy to repair the damaged tissue, much less make the muscles bigger and stronger.
But the kind of carbs you eat matters a lot. Simple carbohydrates, like bread or table sugar, give you a short burst of energy, while at the same time giving you a large number of virtually nutrient free calories that your body is very likely to store as fat. Complex carbs like whole grain breads, fruits, and vegetables give you a slower, but longer lasting supply of energy, contain lots of nutrients, not empty calories, and are much less likely to end up as fat. Eat lots of complex carbs, go real light on the simple ones, and you’ll find that you have the energy you need for muscle growth.
Fat is Not all Bad
While everyone seems to be against eating any kind of fat, you do need to eat some fat to be healthy. Fat is another energy source and building block for your body. The biggest problem with fat is that we get too much of the wrong kinds of fat. The kind of fat we get too much of is the kind of fat you see around the edges of a steak, or the kind that’s in foods like margarine. Fish and nuts are good sources of the Omega-3 healthy fats that your body needs. If you trim the excess fat from meats, don’t eat the skins of your chicken and turkey, and include lots of fish and the occasional handful of nuts in your diet, you’ll be all set.