With over a decade’s experience in health, fitness and nutrition here are my 10 essential, tried and tested muscle building nutrition tips.
1. Protein amounts
In regards to muscle building protein is king, derived from the Greek word “protus” that means “of most importance” getting your protein in is the key to muscle. The problem most people have is how much to consume and how often.
There are many schools of thought in regards to how much protein someone should consume on a daily basis, I have found the most accurate way to find your requirements involve working out your body fat percentage, lean tissue and catering to that rather than an often excessive total body weight approach.
Finding your lean tissue is a case of having it measured and is a fantastic investment in any pursuit of health and fitness. There are many ways in which to measure body fat and find your lean tissue such as, skin folds testing and bio electrical impedance. I use a combination of the both to be more accurate.
Once you have found your lean tissue measurement we start the prescription of how much you need of which I will give you examples after showing why you should cater to lean tissue rather than Total body weight.
The minimum that should be consumed by anyone is a measurement of 1.5g per kg of lean tissue.
This has been proven to show significant health related benefits, such as reduced injuries in athletes, increased bone density in osteoporosis sufferers, increased metabolic rate and lean tissue measurement, decreased body fat and increase energy levels in regular gym goers. Not to mention increased health of hair, nails and teeth.
Now if 1.5g per kg of lean tissue is a minimum for health benefits it has already been shown that the majority of people are going to be under consuming protein. To grow muscle we need to increase the intake. The maximum I would recommend for an individual who is looking to pack on some serious size would be 3.0g per kg of lean tissue.
Now looking at this may sound easy but if you look into how much you actually need to eat it becomes a lot more serious.
A 60kg male looking to pack on serious muscle with a body fat percentage of 15% will be feeding 51kg of lean tissue. 51kg x 3.0g = 153g protein per day this is the weight equivalent of nearly 600g of chicken breast a day. That’s a lot of chicken.
Now protein shakes make getting the amounts in a lot easier and a good quality protein shake is an absolute must for anyone looking to increase health and muscle, if you feel you can eat this much and can train super hard to use all of the protein you consume then go for it and good luck! enjoy your gains.
However for the majority of people I have found the working with 2.0g per kg of lean tissue may not work as fast but does fit in with peoples life styles that little bit better. Here is how I would calculate it.
60kg male with 15% body fat = 51kg lean tissue. 51kg x 2.0g = 102g protein per day just under 400g of chicken breast per day. a lot easier to stomach, prepare and consume. Now it’s not just about how much protein you consume, you also need to look at the quality of the protein you are eating…the biological value of protein.
How to work it out for yourself:
Your weight of lean tissue X desired amount of protein = daily intake of protein
Daily intake of protein / desire number of meals= amount per meal
2. Protein quality and biological value
Biological value of Protein break down
The building blocks of protein are amino acids. Each protein has its own specific number and sequence of amino acids. Amino acids can be classified as either essential or non-essential.
Non-essential amino acids can be produced in the body from other proteins or carbohydrates. Essential amino acids, however, cannot be produced during metabolism by the body and therefore must be provided by our diet. There are eight essential amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Threonine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan and Lysine)
When one or more essential amino acids are scarce, the protein is said to have low biological value.
High biological value proteins are provided by animal sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Low biological value proteins are found in plants, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables. The highest biological value is held by protein powders.
A simple way to understand biological value is the higher the number the more of the actual protein is digested absorbed and assimilated… or used by the body and the greater benefit it has on you.
Whey Protein Isolate 159
Whey Protein Concentrate 104
Real food sources
Eggs (whole) 100
Eggs (whites) 88
Chicken / Turkey 79
Lean Beef 69
Cow’s Milk 60
Brown Rice 57
White Rice 56
Whole Wheat 49
Soy beans 47
White Potato 34
As you can see the top 2 are whey protein isolate and concentrate, these will give you the greatest assimilation of protein, and the greatest benefit to your body. However we cannot rely only on powders for nourishment The key to good protein consumption is pick the best available source of protein to you the with every meal.
Apart from the protein powders the best real food options will be the top 5 highest numbers. Do some research and find out how much of each you need to eat per meal always opting for the highest biological value and you will achieve the highest amount of muscle gains because of it.
3. Carbohydrates and measured amounts
Any stacked and jacked dude, any meat head, pro or amateur body builder will tell you, if you want to get big muscles you need to eat carbs.
Now carbs are like a double edged sword, you can use them to turbo-charge your metabolism, strip down your body fat and build big lean gains if used correctly and the correct types are consumed. However consume the wrong amounts of the wrong types at the wrong times and boom, excess body fat, diabetes and no muscle.
Again I look to the approach of feeding lean muscle tissue rather than excess body fat and total body weight. work out your body fat percentage for a more accurate diet plan. I often opt for slightly lower amounts of carbs than protein due to the majority of people wanting the lean gains without the potential of excess body fat.
These estimations are for regular social gym goes, professional athletes and body builders will need to have a specific diet plan made for them but the following recommendations will make a difference to the social gym goers looking to step their physique up a notch.
I don’t recommend any lower than 1.5g to no higher than 2.5g of carbohydrates per kg of lean tissue.
Here is how I would work it out for example:
60kg male with 15% body fat = 51kg lean tissue. 51kg x 1.5g = 76.5g complex carbohydrates
60kg male with 15% body fat = 51kg lean tissue. 51kg x 2.5g = 127.5g complex carbohydrates
Now I prefer to have the majority of carbohydrates later in the day, and after workouts. This is due to insulin sensitivity levels being high in the morning and being more tuned to store fat than in the evening. Carbohydrates after a workout are an absolute must for building muscle.
So for example I recommend a high protein and high fat breakfast to satisfy hunger and boost your metabolism.
If I or my client were training in the evening I would have 40 – 50% of my daily carbohydrates with lunch, they would have to be good complex carbs coupled with good quality proteins and highly fibrous vegetables to fuel the workout later. Then I would have the last measurement of carbohydrates after my workout for muscle glycogen regeneration, along with a high quality protein for muscle repairs.
The types of carbohydrates are also key as some have adverse effects on your metabolism and your hormone levels.
4. Types of carbohydrates
The following carbohydrate sources are my personal recommendations
Beans and pulses
Why do I recommend these sources of carbohydrates?
Many people say it’s best to stay away from grains. Grains with wheat I totally agree due to the presence of gluten. All of the above are gluten free (porridge is available in gluten free packs).
But why is Wheat so bad?
Now wheat is actually an relatively young grain that has only been cultivated for around 10 thousand years. Due to this humans have not yet developed the correct digestive system to process the wheat. Hence why we have wheat intolerances to the extent of celiac disease where people cannot eat any wheat without crippling stomach cramps, and excessive gas.
Wheat also contains an anti nutrient called phyticacid, this is like the wheat’s self defense mechanism that binds other nutrients to stop the body absorbing them. Leading to further nutritional deficiencies.
Wheat needs to be processed to be used and one of the main sources of wheat based carbohydrates is bread. If you were to ask any baker what ingredients go into bread, they would say, flour water, yeast, salt and a form of fat usually butter. If this is the case how comes the list of ingredients on the back of a modern loaf of bread is more than 15 to 20!
All the anti fungus, anti mould, and break down chemicals give the bread a longer shelf life and means companies can make money, but causes serious problems to our digestive system and causes chronic inflammation.
Porridge oats are a great source of carbohydrates and the body builders choice at breakfast, make them quickly and easily by simply pouring boiling water over the oats and allowing them to soak and there for breaking down their tough fibers and leading them to a more creamy texture, this tastes amazing with cinnamon which also helps manage blood sugar levels, often a problem with carbohydrates.
Sweet potato is the better option to normal white potato due to the higher fiber content, however white potato can be eaten as long as you eat the skin along with it as the skin has the majority of the potatoes fiber.
The higher amount of fiber means it has a slower digestion and absorption time having a less damaging impact on your blood sugar levels, effecting insulin spikes, and sugar cravings. Try pealing baking and mashing sweet potatoes with a bit of grass fed organic butter and add cinnamon for a desert like taste to beat any potential sugar cravings.
Brown rice, ideally organic again is high in fiber and slower to digest leading to feeling fuller for longer an reducing over eating that leads to excess fat storage. Brown rice is also a favorite among bodybuilders.
Quinoa has had a lot of good press recently due to having higher amounts of amino acids in comparison to rice, it is fast becoming another favorite of the lean gainer. Mixing it in with salads is a great way to add good carbs to healthy fibrous meal.
Beans and pulses as a source of carbohydrates may sound strange as the majority of vegetarians and vegans use these as a source of protein, however they are a great source of slow release complex carbohydrates.
Lentils, kidney beans, chick peas and black beans are a great source of carbs. However with beans, pulses and lentils can lead to an increase in flatulence trapped gas and because of this an uncomfortable stomach, if this is the case they you can always supplement digestive enzymes to help break down the beans and dramatically reduce the issues.
The key to carbohydrate intake is, don’t over indulge to reduce the risk of excess fat gains, eat at times when your insulin sensitivity is at a more favorable level, Ideally later in the day and the evening. Always have carbs after your workouts to replace muscle glycogen, and make sure the sources are of the best quality.
5. Fats types, sources and amounts
There are certain fats that your body requires in order to build muscle, burn fat, and remain healthy. These fats are called Essential Fatty Acids or EFAs.
These types of fat are considered essential because they must be obtained through diet and cannot be synthesized within the body. The human body uses these fats for many biological processes and many of these processes are integral to getting the most results from your training and diet.
There are two main types of EFAs. These are omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats are considered essential since they cannot be synthesized by the body. Omega 9 fatty acids are necessary but are considered “non essential” because the body can manufacture modest amounts of them provided there are enough EFAs present.
The omega 3 fatty acids:
Alpha Linolenic Acid (LNA)Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Although all 3 types of omega 3’s are important LNA can be converted to both EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the omega-3’s your body requires but ingesting LNA will ensure that needs are met.
The omega-6 fatty acids:
Linoleic Acid (LA)Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA)Dihomogamma Linoleic Acid (DGLA) Arachidonic Acid (AA)
Just like LNA can be converted to other omega-3’s, LA can be converted into the other omega-6 fatty acids.
How these fats effect muscle growth
- -Elevate growth hormone secretion
- -Increase muscle cell protein synthesis
- -Increase insulin sensitivity
- -Help maintain proper testosterone levels
- -Decrease inflammation
- -Strengthen immune system
- -Enhance stamina
- -Allow more frequent training without over training symptoms
- -Speed recovery
- -Lower high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- -Speed healing of injuries
- -Improve sleep
- -Improve concentration
- -Treat arthritis
- -Improve skin conditions
- -Diffusion of oxygen into the bloodstream
- -Improve cardiovascular function
- -Enhance absorption of fat soluble vitamins… and more.
But all of the above will have a contribution to muscle gain.
So How Much Do You Need?
Modern research has given the following recommendations of omega 3 and 6
Men – 3-3.5 grams per day from all sources
Women – 2.5-3 grams per day from all sources
Men – 9-14 grams per day from all sources
Women – 7.5-12 grams per day from all sources
However in my time researching and training clients is also under the amounts for enhanced performance and muscle growth.
When it comes to fat recommendations I turn to the father of modern fat research Dr Udo Eurasumus and in particular his choice blend oil. Cold presses, stored out of sun light and refrigerated it is the perfect source of all essential fatty acids and in the best possible ratios. Pour it on salads, mix it in with porridge… Do not cook with it! As it will destroy the fragile acids. Or drink it straight like I do
For athletes, Udo recommends 1 Tbsp for each 25kg of body weight. You can start with 1 Tbsp per day, increasing every few days until you reach the recommended amount. For the average person who is not very active Udo recommends 2 Tbsp per day maximum. Get your fats in and get the gains!
6. Eat to specifically to boost Testosterone
Read my top 5 nutrition tips for boosting testosterone naturally article…
(insert link here of watch fit 5 testosterone boosting article also attached in email)
7. Water intake
WATER IS THE SINGLE MOST CRITICAL NUTRIENT
The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water. Water is also the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. It is not only the most important nutrient in the body, but also the most abundant.
Water is critical to the balance of all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and muscles. Every chemical reaction in the body takes place in water, fat burning, heating up, cooling down and especially building muscle. If your dehydrated all of these chemical reactions can be impaired.
Now I recommend a minimum of 3 liters of bottled mineral water, or filtered and distilled tap water is an absolute minimum recommended amount for anyone. Drinking at regular intervals throughout the day, at first upping your water intake can be hard but after a few days of consistent drinking your body will crave the water and you will easily drink 3 liters, stick with it.
Bottles of mineral water and filtered water are recommended as there can be some nasty chemicals in unfiltered water from the tap and the minerals in mineral water help proper Hydration and reduce water retention.
Benefits of drinking this much are, proper Hydration, increased fat loss, decreased water retention, increased strength and endurance, healthier teeth and hair, skin and bones, easier digestion of all the bulking food your eating… the list is endless.
However if you are performing exercise at any point through the day your need for water has now increased due to perspiration increased respiration and increased metabolic activity. Up your intake by at least 500ml per hour your training.
The key is to stay hydrated so all of the other recommendations made can work to their maximum capacity. Drink plenty of water and achieve plenty of gains.
8. Vitamins and minerals to increase testosterone
Muscle building nutrition is generally focus on protein carbs and fats, often neglected is the importance of vitamins and minerals.
Here are my three essential tips for vitamins and minerals
Our bodies contain approximately 25 grams of magnesium. Out of these 25 grams, over 60% of the magnesium located in our bodies is located in the skeleton, with 27% found in muscles.
Magnesium is required for chemical reactions such as the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats in our body. Magnesium is required by the Atp synthesizing protein in mitochondria. Basically it is needed to create your energy for and during training.
Synthesis of essential molecules
A number of steps during the nucleic acid (DNA/RNA) and protein synthesis process require magnesium. Or simply Magnesium is needed to build new muscles.
Getting enough magnesium will help you raise Testosterone and in turn build muscle because magnesium improves the body’s antioxidant capacity, which allows for a release of Testosterone and IGF-1.
I Take and advise clients to take 500 mg a day of magnesium from a high-quality highly bio-available source of Magnesium such as magnesium chelate or new trans-dermal spray magnesium.
Taking vitamin D may be the most valuable tip I can give you because the relationship between this Vitamin D and T has been newly identified. Being deficient in vitamin D leads to more body fat, less lean mass, greater chance of depression, higher rates of cardiovascular disease, and poorer fertility than men with higher vitamin D levels.
Taking the vitamin D supplement can increase free Testosterone by up to 20 percent. Vitamin D supports Testosterone production because there are vitamin D receptors on the cells in the glands that release Testosterone. In addition, vitamin D is thought to inhibit a process called aromatization in which Testosterone is changed into estrogen in men.
I recommend clients take 4000iu to 8000iu of vitamin D daily. This will elevate you’re Vitamin d levels and boost your Testosterone leading to quicker healing and faster muscle growth.
The relationship between zinc and testosterone is a very strong one, simply put low Zinc means low testosterone.
Research shows that having adequate zinc available in the body allows for a stronger release of Testosterone, and the related anabolic hormones, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Adequate zinc has also been found to improve release of IGF-1, and together Testosterone and IGF-1 are principal hormones in recovery and optimal muscle growth from resistance training..
Know that low zinc will be devastating to your health and training results, it’s MUCH more common than people realize, and it affects men and women equally.
• Low zinc leads to an increase in estrogen receptors and a decrease in androgen receptors.
• Zinc is necessary for androstenedione to be converted to Testosterone.
• Low zinc may increase aromatization of Testosterone to estrogen, just like vitamin D.
• The male prostate tissue requires 10 times more zinc than other cells in the body for health.
• Low zinc increases breast cancer risk in women and men, and because zinc minimizes inflammation, which is a principal cause of cell damage.
If you have low zinc, take a high-quality zinc supplement that is not cut with calcium—this will impair absorption. Get dietary zinc from meat, but don’t rely on vegetables or grains for zinc because they contain compounds called phytates that make the zinc unavailable to the body.
I recommend that clients take 22mg of Zinc Picolinate daily, this form is easier to absorb due to the chemical structure, but must be taken last thing at night away from any other supplements as it is incredibly hard to absorb adequate amounts of zinc so we remove any potential absorption problems and nutrient binding by taking it alone.
9. Caffeine before workouts
Caffeine makes you stronger… Drinking it before a workout is giving you the extra edge.
Caffeine is the most effective legal performance-enhancing aid available. It confuses me as to why more people don’t use it to run faster and train harder. Caffeine can boost performance by 20 to 25 percent in average gym goers. In world class competitions however it is much smaller, around 5 to 7 percent.
Now my preference before a workout it a strong black coffee that drags me through a tough lifting session. I choose and recommended coffee to all my clients over the modern day Pre workouts because of the incredible amount of sugars and Additives in these.
The sugars counteract the fat loss benefits of the Caffeine and majority of people have plenty of muscle glycogen through effective dieting to push through their workoust without the need of the big hit Pre training.
Use Caffeine To Build Strength With Higher Quality Workouts
There are a number of physiological benefits to consuming caffeine such as the following:
• It raises stimulatory hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine
• It helps free fatty acids so that you can burn fat and spare glycogen
• It releases calcium that is stored in muscle for increased endurance
• It decreases the sensation of pain and affects the brain’s message of fatigue, allowing athletes to keep going when they would normally collapse in exhaustion.
In short it makes you a workout machine! and This is especially important for the early morning workouts, essential if you’re looking to train twice a day.
Overcome Sluggish Early Morning Training & Improve Concentration
Performance is diminished in the early morning due to lower activation of the central nervous system and body temperature. Taking 3mg of caffeine per kg of lean tissue in the morning, can raise performance by up to 8%.it doesn’t sound like a lot, but when chasing the gains… Every little helps.
It also helps you last longer in the gym and in the set it will improve concentration and reaction time. When you fatigue or feel pain, motor unit firing rate decreases. Caffeine blocks this by activating neurotransmitter release for more efficient muscular contractions.
A 3 mg per kg of lean tissue dose should give you a major lift if you struggle during morning workouts or want a boost in concentration and reaction time.
A little extra Brain food
Studying? Pairing caffeine with creatine may enhance your focus because creatine increases the availability of phosphocreatine as an energy source for the brain.
10. Slow shake for bed
The Majority of body builders and uneducated trainers will tell you to have a shake before bed to feed your muscles over night. Now often the protein of choice is casein because of its slow release of amino acids over longer periods of time.
Now this may seem like a smart choice but casein protein clots in the stomach and greatly effects your blood sugar levels, also as outlined in tip number 2 for protein biological value shows that casein has a lower biological value and there for less is assimilated and is inferior to whey isolate.
Now whey isolate alone is fast digesting and quick to be absorbed. We must slow down the absorption time to make it a slow super shake. Increasing the complexity of a meal changes its absorption rate due to the presents of fibers and fats. I recommend clients add fiber and fat to the shake to slow down its absorption time rather than taking a inferior protein.
My own fiber and fat choices are for unbeatable fiber and nutrients Udos beyond greens, full or fibre phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and more. It’s like adding a large amount of salad and veg to your shake with one spoon full of powder.
My fat choice is Udos choice blend oil, full of highly absorbable essential fats great to increase strength, sports performance and muscle gain everything the body needs after an evening of hard lifting to accelerate recovery.
For other options you could add milled Flax seeds, psyllium husks, olive oil, fish oils and coconut oil. To slow it down and add extra value and nutrition.
Now it does alter the taste a lot and I can’t speak for everyone in saying I like it… As I prefer a lower flavor shake adding a little stevia will sweeten it up a little and take the edge off. But I’m sure you have eaten worse to get your muscular gains.
Thank you for taking the time to read my top 10 nutrition tips for muscle building combining these top 10 nutrition tips with a great quality training program will lead to an increase in overall health and awesome muscular gains. Enjoy.