Longing to have sculpted muscles? The most ideal combination for having those sculpted muscles is based on adequate calories, fluids, proteins, and strength training. Having the right kind of energy-rich foods are very essential for developing the most enviable muscles.
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) position paper on nutrition and athletic performance, the best recommendation is a well-balanced diet with enough calories to support the physical activity. In this meal plan, the ADA and ACSM emphasize on five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains, cereals, beans, legumes, and enough fluid for adequate hydration of the body.
“A healthy exercise regimen should always be supported by a meal containing healthy carbohydrates and proteins – carbohydrates for providing energy, and proteins for building and repairing the muscles. Eating protein may not build muscles unless it is supported by proper exercise," says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, Georgia State University, nutrition professor emerita, RD and editor of ADA’s Sports Nutrition Manual.
Some of the most important muscle-building foods include:
- Fruits and vegetables – They provide adequate amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and fluids.
- Low-fat dairy – These products are a rich source of high-quality proteins carbohydrates, vitamin D, potassium and calcium. According to Rosenbloom, chocolate milk is the best workout recovery drink.
- Lean meat – Lean meat is rich source of protein, iron, and amino acid leucine, which will trigger the growth of muscles.
- Dark meat chicken – Dark meat chicken may provide 25% more iron and three times more zinc, which can improve the functioning of the immune system.
- Eggs – These are rich in all the essential amino acids and one need not throw the yolk while having food. Half the proteins are present in yolk and it also contains important nutrient like lutein for healthy eyes.
- Nuts – Unsalted or roasted varieties are good sources of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats.
- Beans and whole grains – They are good-quality carbohydrates and also contain good amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
The time of eating is very important for the proper growth of the muscles because carbohydrates and proteins are essential for strength training exercise and carbohydrates are required for recovery of the muscles after the exercise. The best plan is to eat small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day. “Having beverages that provide a good amount of protein, like the chocolate drink, immediately after the exercise would provide adequate amounts of raw materials for muscle recovery and build up”, says Rosenbloom. “It is ideal to have a meal about 1-2 hours of the strenuous workout”, he adds.
According to sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD, more than half of the calories should come from healthy carbohydrates which will prevent the breakdown of proteins as a source of energy. There is a thin line that distinguishes enough calories to build up muscles and those that will lead to gain of weight. Proteins are very important in building and repairing muscle tissue and also aids in the production of hormones and immunity factors. According to ADA recommendations, male endurance athletes require 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, while body builders need 1.6-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Since none of us eat by the amount in each meal, one should ensure to have a healthy meal with healthy carbohydrates with proteins. She recommends that athletes should divide their diet into 4 equal sized meal and have adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, grains, healthy fats and calcium-rich or lean protein at each meal. A registered dietitian can make an individualized plan based on your requirements.
Progressive resistance training will help to build bigger and more defined muscles. One can use a weight heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue after 9-12 repetitions. If you are able to lift the wait for 12 repeats, the weight should be increased. “Pushing the muscle past the comfort zone helps to build up the muscle”, says Clark. Results are better with strength building exercises when compared to aerobic exercise.
The time taken to see the enhanced version of muscles depends on the percentage of body fat. If there is an extra layer of fat around the muscles the newly grown muscle tissue would not be seen without losing those extra pounds. According to Clark, one can expect to gain around 2 pounds of muscle per month.
Ideally strength training should be done 2-3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. Strength training helps to maintain the strength of the muscles, prevent osteoporosis, and decrease the chances of injury to the muscles and joints. Rosenbloom recommends that the person should be better with the personal trainer while doing the strength training exercises to prevent injury to the muscles.
- The most ideal combination for having those sculpted muscles is based on adequate calories, fluids, proteins, and strength training.
- The foods to eat include fruits and vegetables, fow-fat dairy, lean meat, dark meat chicken, eggs, nuts, beans, and whole grains.