Many of us long for “improvement” to our physiques whether it is for vanity or sporting achievement. This is something we can only acquire with a good diet and a regular training regime.
Power and Efficiency
The fact is that the more muscle we have, to an extent, the better our bodies perform. We are more powerful, stronger and faster (great for sports and the real world). We are also more likely to keep injuries at bay and our coordination improves, making us physically more efficient. So we benefit from all these great advantages as well as improving our metabolic rate by having an increased muscle mass and of course reducing body fat through exercise.
Increasing Muscle Mass…
A lot of the time when increase muscle size is mentioned we immediately think of the body builders of this world. When I mention increasing muscle mass to my own clients their first reaction is usually “I don’t want to be Arnold Schwarzenegger!” Well increased muscle mass doesn’t have to mean that. It takes those guys years and years of very hard work to achieve their goals and whether you like it or not it has to be said they have dedication.
…but Not Getting Bigger
For the majority of us though you will be able to have your programmes tailored to your particular needs. Of course you can increase your muscle mass without increasing your physical body size. Your body fat % will reduce through the training and your muscle mass will increase and this is the essential part: your body must have a higher percentage of muscle tissue to body fat.
How do we increase our muscle mass? Exercise
Well firstly a good training routine, it’s no good just doing the diet and not the training. I read on the internet about a guy who was complaining that his protein shakes were doing nothing for him; in fact he was just putting on more body fat. Well he went on and on and when I came to the end of the piece it turned out he was not training at all. So please remember there is no magic recipe to get bigger muscles, no short cuts just lots of hard work.
So now let’s look at your diet. As our bodies are largely made up of water it will be no surprise that water is very important to help you increase your muscle size. It is a large percentage of what makes up a muscle and it also improves your performance in the gym. You should be looking at approximately 2 litres of water a day and increasing that by another 1 litre every time you train. Spread the consumption of the water evenly over the whole day and don’t down it all in one go!
You will need your carbohydrates for energy for your body to function and more carbs on the days that you work out. Your carbs are the pastas, the potatoes, the rice, the sugars etc. Carbs are your immediate energy and the better quality your carbs the better the energy. So if you can stay away from white refined foods and have the more complex carbs, the whole wheat etc. this gives out a slower release of energy that the body can utilise better. As carbs provide immediate energy, eat for what you are about to do. So this means you should consume more carbs in the morning and during the day and then reduce it after 6 pm as you don’t need much energy to sleep.
Protein provides the amino acids and these are the building blocks for our bodies. They are used for all different cellular structures in our bodies and are the most essential for building muscle. You need to get your protein from different sources other than just meat so remember to have eggs, nuts, seeds and beans which are all high in proteins. Also try to not have too much red meat. Although high in protein it sits in our system for long periods of time, whereas the white meats like chicken and fish are digested more efficiently. As for the quantity of protein needed by the body, try not to have too much as you will over stress your liver and this can cause problems. For a guide, if you want to maintain your existing muscle you need to aim for about 1 gram of protein per 1 kg of your body weight per day. For muscle growth and an increase in development then you need to aim for 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kg of your body weight per day. This does not mean you have it all at once – try to spread it evenly throughout the day as your body will be able to utilise it much more efficiently that way and you will see greater benefits. Check on the nutritional information of your food but to give you an idea: a can of tuna will have about 25 grams of protein; a breast of chicken will be about the same and the equivalent weight in red meat will have slightly more.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables are essential for maintaining your body’s health and transporting the amino acids from the protein around your body. Don’t stick to the same fruits and vegetables, try and add variety and try to have around 5 portions a day.
This is not all the information you require for your diet but it should give you a better idea of what you need and when you need it. As the blog develops you will get more hints and tips so that eventually