Building muscle requires more than just intense training and weight lifting. The fact is that any type of change in your body composition, such as building muscle or losing fat, also depends on the diet you follow.
You want to quickly gain muscle mass or simply gain weight – and that's great of course! But to make a lot of progress, it is also necessary to focus on the food you consume every day.
For example, it is important to learn more about macronutrients (nutrients that provide energy and are abundant in your body), a good calorie intake, and specific foods that you should take or avoid. Building muscle takes time and is slow, but with the right diet, you will reach your goals sooner!
Know what to eat to build muscle
But your body can't just create that new muscle tissue from scratch. To make progress, you need to take in the right nutrients. Your body needs these nutrients to build muscle.
This means that what you eat (in combination with the amount) makes an important contribution to gaining muscle growth. Heavy lifting and intense strength training without a healthy and varied diet, especially if you don't have enough protein, can even lead to loss of muscle tissue.
Plus, if you don't eat right, you won't have the energy you need to get the most out of your workouts. This is of course at the expense of muscle building.
To get the most gains when you want to increase your muscle mass and increase your strength, keep the following things in mind:
- Take in enough calories every day
- Consume enough protein to build more muscle tissue
These two things are important because if you eat a lot of protein, but don't get enough calories, you'll struggle to get the most out of your workout due to a lack of energy.
However, if you eat enough calories, but take in too many bad foods and don't take in enough protein, your body will not be able to build muscle tissue.
Know how much to eat to build muscle
As you build muscle, your body needs more fuel. As described earlier in this article, you can't get the most out of your workout if you don't get enough nutrients.
This is difficult for some athletes to understand. For example, they think they gain more fat or gain weight because they take in extra calories. But that extra intake is necessary to start your muscle development. And as long as you train in the right way, more calories will not necessarily result in (much) more fat.
How many calories a person needs per day during exercise and for building muscle varies widely. It is best to seek advice from a dietitian or gym employee, but in general, when it comes to protein intake, it is good to add 20 to 30 grams of extra protein to your daily diet.
Focus on your protein intake
To be and remain fit and healthy during any type of sport, you must follow a nutritious, balanced diet. But when building muscle is your priority, consuming enough protein is the most important.
Muscle tissue consists largely of proteins and therefore needs a lot of this nutrient to be able to repair and grow. Fortunately, very few Dutch people have trouble getting enough protein through their diet. This is because the Western diet is rich in protein.
For active people, especially those who want to gain more muscle mass, it is important to look closely at the actual protein intake and make adjustments if necessary. Below you can read some guidelines:
People who are healthy and do little strenuous physical activity would thrive on about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. That means that a 70-kilogram person should eat about 56 grams of protein per day.
The Nutrition Center recommends that people who require a lot of effort from their bodies – for example, strength athletes who aim to build muscle – should consume about 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram per day. This translates into 84 to 140 grams of protein per day for someone who weighs 70 kilograms.
An analysis of 49 studies has determined that the ideal amount of protein per day for building muscle is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight.
You build muscle with the right nutrition
As discussed earlier in this article, it is important to create a good balance between different healthy nutrients. You can think of proteins, micronutrients, and complex carbohydrates. The foods below are ideal for people who want to build muscle.
10 Best High Protein Foods
Preferably choose high-quality protein-rich foods that also contain other good nutrients. Below you can read the 10 best protein-rich foods so that you can build fast muscles.
Eggs: One egg contains about six grams of protein, along with healthy fats and B vitamins.
Chicken: Opt for chicken breast – this is a lean protein source containing 31 grams of protein per 100 grams. Chicken breast is a real powerhouse when it comes to building muscle with nutrition!
Lean beef: Beef, like chicken, is also a good source of protein. In addition to protein, beef is high in natural creatine, which is known to improve athletic performance and provide other health benefits.
Cottage cheese: Depending on the type of cottage cheese, 25 grams of protein per serving (100 grams) can be consumed. Plus, not to mention, lots of calcium! This mineral strengthens your teeth and bones.
Salmon: This fatty fish is rich in both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which will help build muscle.
Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, and other varieties are a great, lean source of protein. Beans can contain as much as 15 grams of protein per 100 grams. In addition, beans are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Tofu: Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is an important source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu is also rich in calcium.
Tempeh: This fermented soy product is typically less processed by manufacturers than tofu and therefore contains more micronutrients. Like tofu, tempeh is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Brown rice: This type of rice is not refined like white rice, so it has more protein and other nutrients. Building muscle using brown rice is therefore a good idea!
Seeds and Nuts: Add a variety of seeds and nuts to your diet for micronutrients, carbohydrates, and protein. Think, for example, of almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Avoid these foods
While building muscle, it is wise to avoid junk food and other harmful foods as much as possible. The types of foods that do not aid in muscle growth and should be banned from your diet include:
Alcohol: These are useless calories with almost no nutritional value. In addition, drinking alcohol can result in decreased performance in the gym the next day.
Added sugars: Natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables, for example, help provide you with energy during your workout. However, added sugars in processed foods only create more fat.
Processed and fried foods: This type of junk food may contain protein, but the fats and additives will backfire when you're aiming to build muscle. Think of fatigue, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Muscle building is something that takes a lot of time and is a long-term goal. A healthy and varied diet can provide tools to find out what to eat and what to avoid. For example, inquire at your gym or a dietician about the possibilities of having a personal nutrition plan drawn up.
Don't forget carbohydrates
While we mainly focus on the intake of sufficient protein and easily digestible foods, other important nutrients may be accidentally overlooked. The right balance between nutrients should be strived for.
For example, carbohydrates are mainly needed as fuel for your body during training sessions. In other words, carbohydrates indirectly contribute to muscle building. Your body will struggle to absorb more than 35 grams of carbohydrates in one sitting. Ideally, every meal and snack should contain proteins, carbohydrates, and a little fat.
Fat is also important for building muscle, but it is not exactly necessary to keep track of your fat intake when you follow a healthy diet. Why? Well, if you eat enough carbohydrates and proteins, you will most likely get enough fat through your diet. In addition, your body can store fat, making it virtually impossible to be deficient.