Are you looking to build muscle at the moment? It can be an overwhelming time where people can often fall short by overcomplicating what it takes to add a significant amount of muscle mass. Let me simplify it for you a little; break down muscle tissue in the gym, eat enough calories and protein to repair and fuel growth of new tissue, and rest to allow this process to take place. It might sound a little over simplified but at the end of the day when you want to grow, ticking these three boxes will get a long way towards your goal.
I have already covered my three training tips for building muscle and today I'm going to give you my three nutrition tips for building muscle which are going to help you make the most of the time you are spending in the gym.
Calories are king
I find this hard to type because It is so often perceived as an excuse to eat junk and only junk but when it comes to adding muscle it is the most straight forward piece of advice I can give. So before you reach for the Ben and Jerry's let me explain. All I mean is that if you are not consuming the correct amount of calories for your amount of lean muscle, activity level, and metabolism then you simply wont add any muscle at all. This means that taking the time now to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Calories burned from activity, and adding on a controlled surplus of calories to fuel growth will save you lots of wasted effort or unwanted fat.
Go online and find yourself a bodybuilding calorie calculator which gives you your BMR+Calories burned from activity and add around 200-500 calories to this for a sensible starting point. Try and stay as close to this number using whole, healthy, and nutritionally dense foods if you want to keep fat gain to a minimum. This doesn't mean that having the occasional treat or blowout is going to harm your progress, it wont! In fact it might even help just base your bulk around a foundation of whole foods and you will be thankful when it comes to leaning out!
Top Tip: Remember, as you grow so does your need for more calories so be sure to recalculate your needs as you grow to keep progress going.
Be consistent with your eating
So you have the perfect amount of calories calculated which are going to fuel maximum muscle based on yor current size and activity level but you keep skipping a few meals and cramming them all in as peanut butter before bed. Sorry, if it was that simple I would be the size of a house by now. In order to add maximum muscle mass you need to be consistent with your meals, nutrients, and calories. There is no point eating the right numbers one day and 1500 calories the next or eating all of your calories from fat. Decide on how you are going to break down your calories between protein, carbs, and fat and stick to this consistently throughout the day, week, month and before you know it your body will have no choice but to grow. Everyones body is different so Im not going to make any specific recommendations in terms of macro ratios except to experiment with what works for you personally whether that be a complete split of carbs throughout the day or keeping it mostly fat until around training time, it depends on how you respond. Just make sure you are consistently getting protein and energy in to your body consistently, this is no time for missed meals, just get it in!
Top Tip: Decide on what eating frequency and split of nutrients works for your body/lifestyle and stick to it consistently. Three huge meals or 5 medium ones I dont think it matters, just make sure it is consistent.
The post workout window is crucial
When it comes to eating for maximum muscle there is no more important time to get right than directly after your weight training through to a few hours later. Your body is in a prime position to absorb nutrients to halt the natural catabolic effect weight training can have and begin the recovery and therefore growing process. This is the time where simple carbohydrates and protein should be prioritised over anything else. Make sure you are getting a good serving of both directly after your workout along with any other supplements you might be using as the insulin spike caused by the carbs is going to push these directly in to your hungry muscles (a shake is best). Follow this post workout shake with a large carb and protein rich meal an hour or so later and you will be well on the road to recovering. I personally like to keep the majority of my carbohydrate intake for the day in the post exercise window as this is what I feel works best for me but experiment with what works for you, just make sure you are paying special attention to post workout nutrition!
Top Tip: Make sure you are getting rapidly absorbing carbohydrates in your post workout shake for maximum recovery.
Check out my recipe for the perfect post workout shake or for a more indepth explanation of the post workout shake I like to use for maximum recovery and muscle gain then check out my article "what to have in a post workout shake" which explains ingredients we require in the post workout window to help build as much muscle as possible!
There you go! Three simple nutrition tips for maximum muscle gain which if you get right along with your training will get you on the road to tons of new muscle!