If you are new to bodybuilding and fitness, you are probably aiming for increased muscle growth so that you will look bigger and better. The good news is that you can take aim at improving your diet so that you gain more muscle in the process.
Below are five different diet hacks that will lead you to your goal of increasing muscle growth.
1. Eat For Energy First
Some people make the mistake of thinking that in order to hasten muscle growth, they just need to eat more protein. After all, protein has most to do with muscles, right? But, they fail to understand that their muscles will first need carbohydrates so that their existing muscles will have a source of energy for their workouts. So, before you start stuffing your mouth with as many egg whites as you can, try to find healthy sources of carbohydrates first.
- Mom Was Right, Eat Your Greens - You need a source of complex carbohydrates (not simple sugars), which means you ought to consume vegetables. If you want to bulk up with muscles, feed them with complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs get digested slowly, which is why you get a sustained supply of energy from them. These will also help your body to use any protein you ingest towards repairing muscles that underwent a thorough workout, since there is enough carbs to convert to energy.
- Fiber Is Good For You - When you are looking for complex carbohydrates among the vegetables group, bear in mind that you need food that has sufficient fiber as well. Not only will vegetables with high fiber content make you feel full easier and for a longer period of time, but these will help keep your colon cleaner, too, thus also minimizing the risk of developing colon cancer, which is another amazing benefit.
Here is a list of great sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates that you can choose from:
- Brown Rice
- Chickpeas (also popularly known as garbanzos)
- Sweet Potatoes
2. Bulk Up The Right Way
There is a healthy way of bulking up, which will help you avoid the risk of packing on fat. After all, carbs that are not used up during a workout will be converted to fat. This is normal and you shouldn’t be too alarmed by it. It just means you have to understand how much carbohydrates you really need, depending on your personal metabolism and workout hours.
Once you have found a good source of complex carbohydrates, that is the time to think about bulking up. This means that you will still be working out but focusing on creating mass. And, part of the process of bulking up is eating more protein. Yes, there are great tasting protein powders nowadays, which are readily available at your local fitness stores, but always remember that there’s nothing like eating real food to get your daily dose of protein.
Here is a list of acceptable sources of protein that you should opt for:
- Milk (you can choose low-fat or nonfat milk if you’re afraid of the fat content)
- Pork (particularly tenderloin, which doesn’t have much fat in it)
- Beef (also choose tenderloin for less fat)
- Fish (tuna and salmon are great options)
- Poultry (choose the breast part of chicken or turkey since this specific part has less fat)
- Cottage Cheese
3. Feel Good With Good Fat
Many athletes are surprised by the fact that they need a supply of good fat so that their body can build muscle. But, isn’t fat a bad thing? The answer is not always. Your body needs a source of good fat so that your body will function properly. Since many athletes go the “zero-fat” route, this may cause them to suffer health disorders, which completely derail their muscle-building efforts. So, do eat some healthy fat, too.
Here is a list of sources of good fat that you can incorporate into your muscle-building diet:
- Avocados (excellent source of oleic acid and potassium)
- Dairy Products (milk and cheese are top choices)
- Dark Chocolate (loaded with good fat, fiber, and a lot of antioxidants, too)
- Whole Eggs (yes, that’s right, you need to eat the yolk as well)
- Fatty Fish (including herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and salmon)
- Nuts (peanuts and almonds are good options)
- Chia Seeds
4. Fill Up With Fruits
It really has to be emphasized that fruits are not bad for those wishing to grow their muscles. In fact, your diet would get really boring quickly if you cut out all fruits from your meals. Fruits have massive amounts of vitamins and minerals, lots of water to keep you hydrated, and contain significant amounts of fiber, which are good for your heart, blood vessels, and colon. Their natural sugars make them great food choices if you don’t want to feel completely deprived, especially if you cut out processed food from your diet.
If you can’t afford to obtain the right amounts of fruits due to soaring prices, you can stick with a few basic and affordable ones.
Here is a list of the fruits that you may want to snack on in between meals and in between workouts:
- Bananas (packed with potassium that is good for your heart, plus convenient to bring along because of their “natural packaging”)
- Berries (contain lots of antioxidants)
5. Take Dietary Supplements
If you’ve been watching your food intake carefully while still working out rigorously and thoroughly, one risk you may face is not getting nutrients in their right amounts. Even a person who is trying to bulk up is also at risk of getting insufficient doses of essential nutrients despite consuming larger food portions. Thus, you should always prioritize satisfying your daily nutritional needs through your meals. And, fortunately, you can always take dietary supplements so that you won’t have to worry about not getting enough nutrients your body requires for muscle building.
However, you need to be extra cautious because there are fake dietary supplements being sold in the market today. These are nothing but scams with the sole purpose of stealing away your hard-earned money. Having said that, make sure to only buy dietary supplements from reputable stores and dispensaries. Also, spend some time reading reviews online before making a purchase.
To make it easy for you, here are the kinds of dietary supplements that are suitable for an athlete or a fitness buff like you:
- Caffeine - Don’t be surprised that caffeine made it to the top of the list. Caffeine is necessary especially when you’re feeling sluggish because you had a bad night. The most obvious source of caffeine is coffee, which also contains many antioxidants. But, you can also try taking tea since that has some caffeine in it, although not as much as coffee does. You can experiment with different brands and variants of coffee and tea to see which ones suit your preferences best. A side benefit is that you won’t feel as deprived if you’re on a coffee or tea trip. Some people like these with sugar, while some prefer abstaining from sugar altogether.
- Creatine Monohydrate - This supplement may help you pack on more muscle mass. There are various forms of creatine, but it seems that creatine monohydrate is the best of these because it appears to be the safest and most effective. The recommended volume is three to five grams per day, so try to stay within that range as much as possible. One side benefit is that you can buy this as a single ingredient, meaning creatine monohydrate is not mixed in the formulation of other performance supplements. So, you’re able to save money in the process.
- Whey Protein - If you plan on taking large amounts of this supplement, you may want to consult your physician first so that they can test your kidneys. Too much protein can be bad for you, especially if your kidneys are already damaged to begin with (which is a common problem among bodybuilders who take illegal anabolic steroids). If your doctor gives you the all-clear signal, ask them how much whey protein would be ideal to take considering your weight, height, and build.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, you probably have to take some more factors into consideration when you are adjusting your diet to accommodate your muscle-building goals. You will probably need more calories because you will be engaging in more challenging workouts. So, you need to factor in your livelihood (so that you won’t be unemployed), your income (so that you can afford to buy your food and supplements), your current bodyweight, your target bodyweight, and your current state of health.
Moreover, your gender may also play a part in this because women generally pack on less muscle than men even if they work out the same number of hours. It would also help if you have a social support system (like friends and family) who can provide you with emotional and psychological support so that you can be inspired and motivated to reach your desired muscle-building goals, and achieve that physique you’ve always dreamed of having.