Just about every guy knows that you need to hit the gym and throw some heavy weights around if you want to build muscle. Something far fewer realize is that how you eat will be the determining factor in how successful your efforts in the gym are. Training with weights causes micro-trauma to the muscle, which, when repaired, will result in muscular gains if you eat the right foods in the right amounts.
The Most Common Mistakes
There are two main nutrition mistakes people make when trying to build muscle:
- Not eating enough
- Eating the wrong foods
Guys who do not eat enough are usually concerned with putting on fat, or simply do not have the kind of appetite that will allow them to comfortably put away the necessary calories to grow. This is why counting calories, at least at the start of your muscle building phase, is so important.
To effectively put on muscle without gaining fat you will have to consume somewhere between 500 and 1,000 calories over and above your daily requirements, the specifics of which will be determined by your sex, age, and lean body mass. If you are not counting calories you are merely guessing, and if you are not getting the results you are after, you will not be able to make calculated adjustments to your diet.
Poor Food Choices
Eating the wrong foods is something I have had firsthand experience with. When I was much younger I determine that I would have to eat 4,100 calories per day to gain muscle efficiently. There were many days when I added up my calories at 10:00pm only to find that I was 1,000 calories short of my mark. In a panic I would head to Wendy’s and get three cheeseburgers, large fries and a frosty to make up the difference.
This got me to my desired caloric intake for the day, but over the course of eight weeks it also got me noticeably fatter. If you want to gain muscle and stay lean, you have to get you calories from the right sources and the drive thru is not one of them.
Muscle Building Staples
I have experimented with many different foods during my 17 years as a fitness buff, and through trial and error have come up with a list of foods that I find particularly beneficial for putting on muscle without that annoying layer of fat that sometimes comes with it.
Steel Cut Oats
Just soak these in water overnight no cooking necessary. They provide complex carbohydrates and plenty of fiber, and are the foundation of a good muscle building breakfast.
Eggs contain complete proteins, healthy fats, and are full of nutrients, making them an ideal addition to your diet.
Almond butter is another great source of healthy fats and vital nutrients. I put a couple tablespoons in my oatmeal and add raisins, bananas and protein powder to round off the perfect breakfast.
Grass Fed Beef
Grass fed beef is much healthier than its corn fed counterpart, and I make sure I eat it at least twice per week when trying to add muscle.
Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread
This bread is made from sprouted grains instead of flour, and a couple pieces with almond butter along with a protein shake make a great lunch.