You must have heard so many times from gym trainers and fitness enthusiasts that you need to ignore all your favourite foods, especially carbs if you want to put on muscle. Unfortunately, this is nothing but proof of the growing misinformation in the industry.
All the macronutrients, i.e. protein, fats, and carbs are important for you.
Here’s the role of every macronutrient and why you should consume them in order to build muscle:
1. Eat Your Protein To Build Muscle & Lose Fat
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Protein is your best friend when it comes to building muscle. Protein is so important during a cutting phase, that its consumption actually needs to go up as calories go down.
So, as you decrease your intake of carbs and fat in an attempt to lose body fat, protein intake becomes more important because it’ll help you to prevent muscle loss when dieting.
Not only does dietary protein helps preserve lean muscle when your calorie deficit is high, but it also helps you feel more satiated, which helps you stick to your diet.
Additionally, because of the thermic effect of food (TEF), protein consumption also speeds up your metabolism by about 25%. Remember, the thermic effect of food is the energy you expend digesting and absorbing what you eat.
What To Eat: Lean meats like chicken breast, turkey breast, and lean fish certainly fit the bill. There are also some types and cuts of red meat that are 90% lean or more. Egg whites, greek yoghurt, and whey protein. For vegetarians- whey protein, greek yoghurt, etc.
When To Consume: The two most important times to have protein are before and after resistance training workouts. This is especially important when your goal is to keep all your muscle. Then just disburse your protein fairly evenly throughout the day.
How Much Should You Have?
If your goal is to build muscle then 1.6-2.0g/kg/day
If your goal is to lose fat then 2.0-2.5/kg/day
2. Eat Your Veggies
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The vast majority of vegetables have very few calories, yet contain an order of micronutrients that enable your body to perform optimally.
Veggies are usually fibrous carbs. This means it’s a vegetable that’s high in fibre (and water) yet low in calorie. So they’ll help fill you up and keep you full longer, improve your health and performance while having negligible calories.
Not prioritizing vegetable intake is probably the main defect I see among athletes and lifters. It’s a mistake I’ve made too. I’ve since realized micronutrient intake from a variety of vegetables is a critical component of any good diet.
What, When, And How Much: Most vegetables qualify as fibrous carbs, but not all. Like- spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, fenugreek, cauliflower, etc. Now, when should you eat veggies? Every meal, except pre and post meal to digest protein and carbs as soon as possible
How Much: 2-4 servings per day. An added advantage is that proper fibre intake can help you to look hard and shredded, as fibre decreases bloating effect.
3. Eat Your Fats For Your Hormones
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Some of you must have heard that dietary fat doesn’t automatically turn into body fat, and some of you must have heard that it does.
Dietary fat is a great source of steady energy, partly because it doesn’t lead to blood sugar spikes and the highs and lows in energy that comes with that.
Dietary fat also has positive effects on your brain and the rest of your nervous system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and more.
For example, maximizing testosterone levels and insulin sensitivity are just two ways of eating the right types of fat can help you.
What To Eat: Think avocados, olives, fatty fish, oils, butter, fatty meats, etc.
When To Eat: With the possible exception of pre and/or post-workout, which are your carb-heavy meals, you should have a plentiful dose of healthy fat with every meal.
How Much: A good range of intake is around 20-35% of your total calories per day.
4. Eat Your Carbs To Aid Performance
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Carbs provide energy. More correctly, carbs provide a faster-burning source of energy. This makes carbs the optimal source of fuel for high-intensity exercise, like weight training.
You really don’t need carbs to fuel low-intensity activities, which is almost everything most of us do on a daily basis. Dietary fat (and your own body fat) serve as perfect roots of energy for these low-intensity activities including walking.
What To Eat: Any carb source which you like can be counted in your carb intake. Like rice, pasta, fruits, veggies, bread, ice cream, etc. Yes, you can eat ice cream and lose fat. Because it’s all about net energy balance in the end.
When To Eat: When you’re trying to lose fat quickly, the only reason to have a decent-sized portion of carbs is to fuel and refuel from a high-intensity activity in which you need to perform well.
For the vast majority, eat your carbs before and after a workout.
Don’t eat carbs just to eat carbs; work for them! If you like more carbs than fats then make sure you utilize them during your training and activities outside the gym.
How Much To Eat: An ideal intake is to consume 3-5g/kg/day. Minimum 1g/kg/day.
Yashovardhan Singh is an online fitness coach with www.getsetgo.fitness, an online fitness platform. Along with lifting weights and building his physique, he is also a motorbike enthusiast, an animal lover. You can connect with him on Instagram or drop him an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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