Tired of being skinny and feeling like a weakling when you look around the gym? Would you like to build a defined, well-muscled physique like the ones you see in fitness magazines? It is possible to build a fantastic body, no matter what your current physical state is or how good or bad your genetics may or may not be.
Achieving the body of your dreams will not be easy; it will require a lot of hard work on your part. But, with the right tools at your disposal and fuel in your body, you will be rewarded for all your hard work when you are able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel ecstatic about what you see looking back at you! Continue reading to glean some valuable tips that will help you to naturally build a powerful and muscular physique and achieve your health goals.
Positive mental attitude
Before looking at the best diet for building muscle, we are first going to focus on the mental aspects of muscle building. In order to succeed and reach your goal of a muscular body, it is important to get yourself into the proper frame of mind. Stay positive and believe in yourself no matter what. Surround yourself with supportive people and do not allow negative thoughts to consume you. Tell yourself that you will succeed and make a promise to yourself that you will never give up.
What to eat to build muscle
A proper, well-balanced muscle building diet should include a broad spectrum of nutrients and, most notably, plenty of high quality, lean protein. While a high-protein diet is of course essential for muscle growth, and is therefore usually at the core of all bodybuilding programmes, it is important not to forget that your body requires more than just protein to repair itself, grow and thrive.
If you really want to maximise the results of your workouts, you need to make sure that you are responding to the high demands that you are placing on your body by giving it the fuel that it needs. This includes:
- antioxidants (which help to fight the free radicals generated by exercise and also support recovery)
- vitamins and minerals (which help to keep your immune system strong while your body is placed under pressure)
- fibre and digestive enzymes (to support your digestive system, which can affect sporting performance)
- complex carbohydrates (in the correct proportions, complex carbohydrates can be an excellent energy source without compromising on muscle definition)
- amino acids, such as L-Glutamine (an important nutrient required for intestinal tissue and muscle repair, recuperation, gut wall integrity and the immune system)
- essential fatty acids (such as Omega 3 oil, a type of healthy fat that can’t be manufactured by the body and therefore must be obtained from the diet. These fats can support a lean body, whilst still helping to build muscle. They are also required for the production of hormones essential for the production of muscle).
There are a host of other nutrients required by your body to assist in the process of muscle building. Others are not essential, but can certainly help to optimise results. For example, superfoods such as beetroot and Montmorency cherry are now very popular with athletes, given their high nutrient content which can support energy levels, stamina and performance. For example, beetroot is high in dietary nitrate, betanin, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; Montmorency cherries are high in antioxidants and flavonoids. Nutrients such as these can promote manageable muscle soreness, support higher energy levels, recovery and healthy joints.
How much protein to build muscle
Now that you understand the importance of a balanced diet (specifically in the context of muscle building), we can turn our attention back to the macro-nutrient that is central to an effective muscle building programme – high quality, complete, balanced and natural protein.
In terms of overall effectiveness and benefit (or otherwise) to the body, not all proteins are created equal. There is a vast difference between animal proteins (found in meat and dairy) and plant proteins (e.g. found in hemp and quinoa), particularly in terms of saturated fat and nutrient content.
Your choice could also impact your digestive health (dairy, for example, is hard to digest), your muscle definition and weight (animal proteins tend to be very high in saturated fat) and even your toxic load (animal proteins often contain contaminants, such as hormones or medication given to the animals, as well as parasites and bacteria).
In terms of how much protein to eat, a good rule of thumb is to eat one gram of protein for every pound that you weigh. Having said that, your protein requirements will very much depend on:
- your build
- your goals
- your age
- your gender
- and the demands you are placing on your body through your training programme.
Muscle building workout tips
Keep your muscle building workouts short and intense. Ditch the machines and focus on compound free weight movements such as deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, barbell rows and presses. Getting stronger at free weight compound lifts is the best way to increase muscle mass and get buff.
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your lower body to focus only on your arms and chest. Lower body lifts such as the squat and the deadlift help you to gain muscle all over. Lower body lifts enable you to use the most weight and naturally raise growth hormone levels. It may sound strange, but training your lower body is one of the best ways to add muscle to your upper body. Besides, do you really want to have muscular arms teamed up with skinny legs? 🙂
Give yourself a break!
Rest and recovery are key. All too often, people keen to build muscle quickly go overboard and spend every waking hour in the gym. This can be both counter-productive and damaging. Take at least 2 days off every week to give your muscles a chance to recover and rebuild themselves. Aim to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every single night.
Getting big, lean muscles and building up your body is not easy, but with hard work, the right tools and a smart eating plan you can achieve results.