If you are looking to gain muscle, you might find yourself asking “Which food do I have to eat?” and “How much do I have to eat?”. There’s no simple answer to that because human body differs from one to another and it can take time to find the good balance. In this article, we will give you a few advice on meal plan and work out for muscle gain: the article is not intended for professionals but for amateurs or beginners and it’s an introduction to muscle gaining, so to make you aware of what you can aim for to see results.
High protein foods for muscle gain
Going to the gym and start a workout regime to gain muscles is necessary but in muscle gain exactly as in dieting, food can really make a difference. A good workout can help but eating the appropriate food is necessary to gain muscles in a good way.
We all know that proteins are essential in our diet if we want to build lean muscle but it can be hard to pause and seriously think to what to eat in order to support our physical activity.
Here’s a round up of some of the most popular foods for muscle gain.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, salmon is one of the most important foods for muscle building.
Packed with protein and a good amount of vitamins, chicken breasts are one of the most famous foods for people interested in gaining muscle. They apparently also help in fat loss. Make sure you choose grass fed chicken and, if possible, coming from places you know.
A good Greek yogurt, sugar free and plain, is a good add on to any protein based diet or in case of muscle gain. It contains high-quality protein, it’s easily digestible and it’s perfect after a workout session or as a snack.
Similar to salmon in terms of proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins, tuna is a great food if you wanna gain muscles. Be aware: we’re not talking about canned tuna but fresh tuna. In fact, if you wanna eat canned tuna, go for tuna in a brina, better than tuna in oil.
Cottage Cheese/Mascarpone Cheese
Cottage cheese (or mascarpone cheese) is a great muscle-building snack. It contains a lot of proteins but the more it is fat and the more calories it contains; this means it has to be eaten carefully.
Black, pinto and kidney beans are a good source of plant-based protein to add to your muscle gaining diet.
It’s full of high-quality protein, iron, zinc and plenty of B vitamins.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts have a great amount of proteins and healthy fats. They have to be chosen raw because if they’re salted, cooked or sweetened they loose all of their benefits.
An important part of a muscle gain diet, eggs contain high-quality protein, amino acids and vitamins. The yolk alone contain extra nutrition.
Wild game is packed with high-quality protein, it’s tasty and rich in healthy fat. A staple for people interested in gaining muscles.
Protein Powder for Gaining Muscle
Protein shakes can be a good add on to any meal plan for muscle gain and it’s not a mystery that protein powder is now extremely popular. Drinking protein powder has its own benefits and also its side effects.
These are some of the benefits of Protein Powder
- Drinking a protein shake can increase muscle growth, if part of a balanced diet and a workout plan (check this research on muscle gaining and protein powder);
- Protein powder can help reduce body fat, as documented by this study on whey protein powder;
- Increased protein intake can improve recovery (think about the collagen people drink to help cell rejuvenation)
- Protein powder increase satiety and can improve metabolic health.
These are some of the side effects of Protein Powder
- Protein powder can increase insuline resistance (check here)
- Protein powder can cause stress to the kidneys (a 2011 study found that a high protein diet caused alterations in kidneys health)
That said, it’s necessary to decide whether taking or not taking protein powder on an individual basis and in relation to your muscle gain diet.
How many calories do I need for muscle gain?
There’s no general consensus around the amount of calories needed to gain muscle. It’s commonly said that if you want to successfully build muscle you have to consume more calories than your body burns. It’s important to check you general situation and take into account the macronutrients.
The Importance of Macronutrients
When you start your journey in the gaining muscle, you need to know how importante macronutrients are.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats that have to be combined to determine the amount of calories you should eat per day. There’s a scientific way to calculate your macronutrient breakdown but we suggest you use this Free Dieting Macronutrient Counter where you can add the calories you wanna eat per day (if you don’t know, you can also use this Free Calorie Calculator) and get the (almost) perfect macronutrient breakdown, also based on your diet.
How long does it take to start gaining muscle?
The amount of muscle each person can gain and the speed at which they can gain it is subjective and predetermined by factors like genetics, age and gender. This means that if you start eating to gain muscle, you’ll easily end up gaining weight but not gaining muscle. The faster you will try to gain muscle, the faster you’ll gain body fat and the slower you’ll burn this body fat.
Also, spending every single day in the gym isn’t necessary to build muscle: if you’re not a professional, weight training for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week is enough to see results. The most important thing is to target all your muscle groups during the week.
Muscle gain is definitely a long term game and requires patience and dedication.
Nutrition Tips to Gain Muscle
We’ve already said that nutrition is key to muscle gain. In addiction to the above, we also recommend you cut the processed food and drink a lot of water.
Beginner’s Muscle-Gaining Workout
If you wanna gain muscle, the gym is definitely your friend. Muscle gaining doesn’t go very well with cardio training which has to be limited to 2-3 times per week, maximum 20 minutes, to a lighter intensity such as walking. You should then stay away from machines, focus on dumbbells and barbell exercises planning your training making sure to include, for every routine, one leg exercise, push exercise, pull exercise, and a core exercise.
These are some of the exercises you may add to your routine:
- Leg Exercises: Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges
- Push Exercises: Bench Press, Overhead Press, Dips
- Pull Exercises: Inverted Rows, Pull Ups, Chin Ups
- Core Exercises: Reverse Crunches, Hanging Knee Raises, Planks.
It could be a good idea to get support from a personal trainer so to make sure you’re doing things in the right way.
Muscle Gain Wrap Up
Gaining muscles is not an easy task but it can be extremely rewarding: one of the most important things to remember, is the overall goal. Why do you want to gain muscles? What’s your long term strategy? Do you have any problem with you body? Mind and body goes hands in hands and for this reason it is necessary to be focused and perfectly understand where our own body can go with the help of our mind. Once you’ve found the answer, the path towards a healthy and good muscle gain will be clearer and easier.