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What Nutrition Do I Need to Build Muscle?

Updated: Jan 21, 2023




Some cars take petrol or diesel, rockets take rocket fuel and plants use sunlight during photosynthesis for energy to grow. Your body is no different. Food is fuel.


Depending on your fitness goals, your specific nutritional needs will vary. If you’re looking to increase your power or decrease your body fat, take a look at our Power building plans and fat loss plans.


This article highlights the exact nutritional needs that you need to build muscle. The key elements of a nutritious diet that you need to build muscle are:


  1. Protein

  2. Carbohydrates

  3. Micronutrients

  4. Hydration



Protein

Protein is an essential part of a healthy and nutritious diet. For those of you new to fitness and gym training, you may be unfamiliar to what a key part protein plays in your body composition.


The average person needs 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight as part of a balanced diet. So if you're 100kgs, you should aim to consume 75 grams of protein per day to sustain your current body composition.


If you’re someone who is looking to increase your muscle mass, you will want to increase your protein intake to around 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight. It is not as simple as more protein = more muscle mass.


Although protein is the key building block of muscle, the exact quantity of protein you’ll need to consume to build muscle in a healthy way is dependent on your training plan. An intense training plan will require the higher end of protein intake.


Conversely, if you’re starting out in fitness and are learning the basics you do not need an excessive amount of protein. In fact, your body cannot store protein. If you consume an excess of protein your body will store it as fat which might conflict with your fitness goals.


Sourcing protein in your daily nutrition is simple. Meat is a good source of protein. Leaner meats such as chicken or turkey are simple to integrate and don’t have excess fat. Turkey has around 29 grams of protein per 100 grams and chicken has slightly less with 27 grams of protein per 100 grams.


If you’re vegan or vegetarian, do not worry. Meat is not the only source of protein. Greek yoghurt, lentils and peanut butter are great sources of protein that do not involve harming animals.



Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates or “Carbs” as a lot of people call them are foods that your body breaks down into glucose to power the various processes within your body and include sugars, starches and fibre.


The very foundation of increasing your body mass is that concept of taking in more calories than you burn. If you consume less calories than you burn per day, you will lose mass. Yes your body will burn fat first but to increase your mass and build muscle, you will need to consume more calories than you burn daily.


This is where Carbs come in. Carbs are a source of energy and are essential for powering your body throughout your fitness journey making them a must have part of the nutrition you need to build muscle.


Carbohydrates are easy to come by but just because a carb is calorie dense and convenient, doesn’t mean it should be included in your diet. You’ll want something that is not fatty and unhealthy to aid your nutrition, such as oats.


Oats are around 70% carbohydrates and also contain a relatively high amount of protein compared to other grains. They also make for a versatile and convenient breakfast when you make overnight oats. Simply combine one cup of oats with one cup of milk, mix well and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning the oats will have soaked up the milk and you can add toppings for flavour, easy as that.



Micronutrients

Similar to Carbs are called carbohydrates, micronutrients are called “Micros” by some and are also an essential nutrient to build muscle. They are not as directly related to building muscle as protein and carbohydrates but play an important role in a healthy diet.


Some examples of micronutrients are but not limited to Zinc, Vitamin D and vitamin B12.


Zinc is a mineral found in red meat, kale and nuts. Its nutritional connection to building muscle comes from its key role in healthy cell division. Zinc facilitates tissue repair and therefore must be consumed when attempting to build muscle. Interestingly, Zinc is also involved in the hormone production of testosterone, another building block for muscle growth.


Vitamin D is connected to muscle function and studies suggest that it helps reduce joint pain, increase performance and muscle growth. Meat, seafood and eggs are all sources of vitamin D but as plants cannot absorb vitamin D, readers that are vegetarian or vegan should spend a healthy amount of time in sunlight with appropriate UV protection.


Finally, B12 is important for the production of red blood cells which deliver oxygen to your muscles. B12 also facilitates protein synthesis for building and repairing muscle. Not consuming enough of the vitamin can lead to anaemia and poor energy levels and performance.


Hydration

Hydrating yourself, ideally through drinking 3 litres a day for women and 4 litres for men, is the final key element of a nutritious diet to build muscle.


Water carries nutrients around the body and therefore is the lubrication system of the body. It carries protein and glycogen to the muscles and removes by products away such as lactic acid and dead cells.


Drinking water naturally boosts your metabolism and no matter your fitness goals you should always drink the recommended amount. It’s an added bonus that it will aid you in your muscle building journey.


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We are Up Your Game Fitness. We offer various fitness and nutrition plans to aid your fitness goals. For more information, be sure to contact Riccardo Oliver by emailing info@upyourgamefitness or messaging him on Instagram.


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