Rule #1: Eat a LOT of protein.
Muscle is made of protein. To build muscle, you need to boost muscle protein synthesis, as well as decrease muscle breakdown. Research in the lab and the gym confirms that the best way to do this is with a muscle building diet
that gets you a minimum of one gram per pound of body weight (a little over two grams of protein per kg of body weight) and closer to about 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight (about three grams of protein per kg body weight). This is especially true for those following a more intense training program.
Rule #2: Eat frequently.
It is recommended to eat about six meals on rest days and about eight meals on workout days. That equates to eating meals about every two to three hours. It works! If you are having a pre-workout meal right before the workout and a post-workout meal after and the workout lasts only 60 to 90 minutes, then that’s one time when you are eating even sooner than the two- to three-hour window. And same with the meal that follows your post-workout meal. It is recommended getting in a whole-food meal about an hour after your post-workout protein shake.
Rule #3: Get ample fats.
The only fat that you want to avoid as much as possible is trans-fat.
The simple rule for fat intake is to consume 40% your body weight in pounds (or about your entire body weight in kg) in grams of fat. So, if you weigh 200 pounds (90kg), you would consume about 80 grams of fat per day with about 40% being monounsaturated fat, 40% being omega-3 fats, and 20% being saturated fat each day.
Rule #4: Manipulate carbs.
Since you want to make sure you’re eating ample protein and ample fats for maximizing muscle growth, the amounts of these two critical macronutrients should stay about the same in your muscle building diet regardless of where you are in your diet or your goals. That means to gain more mass or to lose more fat, you should be changing up your carb intake. The body can make all the glucose (blood sugar) it needs from protein and fat. So there are no essential carbs you need from the diet, unlike fat, which there are essential fats you need to consume, and protein, which there are essential amino acids you need to consume because the body doesn’t make them.
Rule #5: Consider calories.
You can gain muscle while losing body fat. To really maximize muscle mass gains, you should be eating more calories than you are burning each day. And to maximize fat loss, you should be burning more calories than you are consuming. Plan your muscle building diet well. However, it is possible to burn slightly more calories than you are consuming yet gain muscle since you are eating ample amounts of protein and fat.
Rule #6: Use a mixed protein powder.
Add bio-active peptides to your whey. Bio-active peptides are shown in human studies to improve the rate of recovery or protein synthesis, helping you build muscle faster. Whey is the king of protein. For one, it is rich in branched-chain amino acids. It also provides special peptides and micro fractions that other protein sources or straight-up aminos can’t.
Whey also happens to be the fastest digesting protein you can consume, which means it delivers its critical BCAA’s, peptides, and micro fractions to your muscles quickly.
Rule #7: Use fast carbs right after workouts.
During workouts, you are burning through muscle glycogen. Glycogen is the stored form of carbs. When you consume carbs, most are broken down into or converted into glucose, which is what blood sugar is. At the end of a workout, your muscle glycogen levels are depleted. If your muscle glycogen levels are not restored, your performance in the next workout can suffer, and muscle growth may be compromised.
The best way to fully replenish muscle glycogen is with high-glycemic or fast-digesting carbs. These carbs make it into the bloodstream and to your muscle fibers almost as quickly as you ingest them.
Rule #8: Combine beta-alanine, betaine, creatine before AND after every workout.
Branched-chain amino acids are critical to have during and after workouts due to their ability to turn on muscle protein synthesis. When you take them before a workout, the real benefit is the energy they provide your muscles and their ability to blunt fatigue, so you can train with greater intensity for longer. When you take a dose after workouts, the benefit is their ability to promote muscle growth.
Creatine literally has hundreds of studies supporting its ability to promote increased muscle strength, power, and size.
Having more blood flow going to the muscles after a workout aids recovery because more blood flow delivers more oxygen, nutrients, and hormones. More oxygen is important because after workouts your body is in a state known as oxygen debt.
Rule #9: Find what works for you.
The 8 rules covered above will work very well for most hard-training people. However, maybe you are that one percent who doesn’t respond so well to a few of these rules. Maybe your schedule doesn’t allow for frequent meals. Maybe you’re a vegan, and dairy-based protein powders are not on your diet. Whatever it is, use these rules as a guideline, but stick only with the ones that work for you. Take these rules and adapt them to your schedule and your body. Tweak them to make them yours, or find ones that work better for you, or create your own.