You may not realise this, but your body is a machine which constantly reinvents itself. Throughout the day, your body breaks down its own tissue and replaces it with new tissue created from the foods we eat and the recycled material foraged from other tissues.
Every person’s body does this, but the process takes place much faster in the bodies of people who work out. As such, if you’re looking to bulk up, nutrition has to become an essential part of your routine.
How Much You Should Eat
A recent study found that muscle mass increased 0.2% per day during the first 20 days of a strength-training program, besides the high rate of muscle-protein breakdown already occurring. This easily explains why someone who’s just starting out on muscle building requires more protein that someone already deep into a strength training regime.
As such, a good amount to aim for when starting out is 0.73 grams of protein per 450g of body weight per day.
How Often You Should Eat
The process by which the body takes protein from food and turns it into muscle tissue is known as protein synthesis. As nutritional advisor Mike Roussell, Ph.D. explains it, protein synthesis is like a light switch – it’s either on or off.
By ingesting 20-25 grams of high-quality protein, the process of protein synthetisation is turned on. It has been proven that those who eat at least 20 grams of protein 6 times a day – best ingested while playing pokies online – will lose body fat and increase lean mass, but if 6 meals seems excessive try 3 protein-rich meals per day instead.
Pre- and Post-Workout Foods
A recent study found that those who took protein supplements gained almost a full kilogram of muscle over 12 weeks compared to those who did not.
With this in mind, studies have also shown that your muscles are most receptive to protein every 4-6 hours and you should ideally eat a protein-rich meal 2-3 hours before training and another within 1-2 hours of finishing your workout.
The Best Sources of Protein
Your body needs amino acids in order to build muscle as they are the building blocks of protein and certain foods contain different combinations of amino acids. Of all the amino acids, leucine is by far the most important when it comes to building muscle and it takes approximately 2-3 grams of leucine to get the maximum effect from a meal.
The good news is that any average-sized portion of protein contains at least 2 grams of leucine.
Carbohydrates and Fat
Most us who work desk jobs don’t need to ingest pre-workout carbohydrates as you have plenty in reserve and your regularly scheduled meals should be enough energy for a solid workout.
However, there is evidence that combining protein with carbs in a post-workout meal will result in higher protein synthesis and you should ingest a good amount of healthy fats in the form of olive oil and nuts.