So you’re working out regularly, and excited about the results that you’re eager to see from all your efforts.
If all goes to plan, you’ll be sporting a newly toned, all improved you in just 6 weeks time. But, have you given any thought to the relationship between muscle growth and diet?
Working out without considering this one thing may render your efforts useless!
What if I told you that all the hard work you’d put in to your exercise program might be completely worthless if you haven’t considered this one thing?
The all-important, make-or-break aspect of seeing visible changes in your body appearance from any exercise program is diet.
Vince Gironda, a famous bodybuilder, is credited as saying that building muscle to reshape your body is 85% diet.
While I don’t believe that we would ever be able to put a specific percentage on the nutrition portion, I do think that Vince’s statement highlights the fact that diet simply cannot be overlooked if you want to obtain results.
Muscle Growth is Stimulated by Stressing the Body
The fact is, exercising stresses the body, and it is this stress that stimulates the body to respond by adapting to the new conditions. In fact, this principle of progressive overload is what is required in order to make your body change.
How you look (muscular, toned, lean, flabby, obese, etc) is determined by the conditions that your body has to ‘survive’ under. If you’re putting your body through its paces by running a half-marathon every other day, then your body will adapt to be lean and muscular.
Conversely, if you’re sitting on the couch every day, your body will adapt to be good at that kind of activity also. (Unfortunately for us all, a body conditioned to a lifestyle of couch-sitting simply doesn’t look as good as one that’s been conditioned for athletic tasks!)
Don’t let this be you:
Some body states are more difficult to maintain than others. Muscle is more demanding to maintain than fat, as the body uses more energy to synthesize this tissue, as well as maintain it, compared to fat.
If you want to synthesize quality tissues like muscle, then you must ensure that you provide the body with the correct building blocks to make muscle tissue. This is where diet comes into play.
Garbage in = Garbage out
You wouldn’t give a builder a pile of pebbles and expect him to build a beautiful brick house out of it, would you?
Same goes for your body. To build muscle you need to fuel yourself with the correct nutrients.
Protein forms the building blocks for muscle and if your dietary intake is insufficient, you simply won’t gain muscle mass.
Sources of Protein
Sources of high protein include animal products such as meats, fish, dairy and eggs.
Vegetarian/vegan options for high protein foods include your beans, legumes, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The topic of how much protein you require per day is not singularly agreed upon, but most information sources and studies recommend a range between 0.6 – 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient for those training to gain or maintain muscle mass.
For example, if you weight 150lbs, you would need to take in about 150 grams of protein per day.
You might choose to supplement your protein intake with protein shakes if you feel that you are not getting enough protein.
If you’re working hard at exercising regularly, then it makes no sense to neglect your diet – as this mistake could decrease the effectiveness of your workouts.
To gain muscle, your body needs protein as this forms the building blocks for muscle tissue. You can gain enough protein through ensuring your diet includes enough protein-rich foods.
If you aren’t sure if you’re getting enough protein, then you can supplement with protein shakes. A good rule of thumb is to allow for around 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight per day.