If you’re locked down at home, you might be thinking this is the perfect time to get your fitness game started. Whether you’re using exercise as an opportunity to get out of the house, or you’ve got an at-home workout that’s blowing off steam, it’s a great opportunity to make the best of a bad situation by exercising and muscle-building seriously.
But the exercise is only half of the equation. What, how and even when you eat can make a huge difference to your muscle mass. If you’re new to bodybuilding, the world of fitness nutrition might seem daunting and complex, but I’m here to show you a few easy tips to get you started.
Do The Math
The simplest way to think about bodybuilding nutritional plans is that you need to take in more calories than you burn through exercise. Of course, once you get to advanced bodybuilding there is a lot more nuance and minutia you can factor into your eating habits, but if you’re just starting out that information is only going to confuse and distract you.
That’s why there are a bunch of rules that might come up in advanced bodybuilding nutritional tips that simply won’t apply to you as a beginner. The biggest culprit is trying to completely avoid carbohydrates and fat: this is only going to slow you down. As long as you’re building more muscle than fat, carbs and fatty foods are not the enemy.
One math tip you definitely need is regarding protein intake. To build real muscle in the early stages, you need to be eating 1 gram of protein per pound of your weight, per day. This is the minimum; if you’re feeling sore after training, it will help to increase that figure to 1.3 grams.
Supplement, Not Replacement
Dietary supplements are named that for a reason: they are an addition to your diet, not a replacement of them. Avoid seeing protein shakes as a magical potion for muscle increase, instead think of them as an addition to a healthy, protein-filled diet of actual foods.
When To Eat
What you eat is only part of the equation. Taking advantage of your body’s natural processes is a time-sensitive challenge, and it helps if you use your metabolism to your advantage. For example, an hour or so before a big workout, eat a meal filled with carbs and protein, it will give you the energy to work out longer and harder.
Within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, make sure you eat around 25 grams of protein and 55 grams of carbs. This is the window in which your muscles, having been broken down by the exercise, are starting to rebuild, and giving them a quick jolt of energy can help them rebuild stronger and bigger.
Rest And Recover
It’s very easy to get so wrapped up in the search for fitness gains that you forget to give yourself time to rest. Not only is this a bad idea for your general health, avoiding rest could actually be reducing your potential muscle gains.Recovery and cheat days, where you avoid intense exercise and eat the fatty and carb-rich foods you’d normally avoid, will trick your body into overcompensating, resulting in further recovery and more muscle growth than if you’d carried on training.
Try not to overdo it on these days, you don’t want to undo the work you’ve put in, but treating yourself in moderation is a vital part of bodybuilding and a great way to reward yourself for hard work.
Don’t Overthink It
Most people looking into serious muscle-building techniques are susceptible to a bit of obsessive thinking. If there’s one thing to bear in mind with nutrition, it’s that trying to analyze every last gram of food for its optimum bodybuilding potential is not worth your time.
For the most part, knowing your food ratios to the decimal point isn’t going to make your muscle gains that much more impressive, but it will almost certainly affect the joy of working out and eating. Focus on enjoying the practice and following the general rules and you’ll see results in no time.
Katrina Hatchett is a lifestyle blogger at Academic Brits and writer for Origin Writings. She is involved in many business projects where she enjoys identifying project problems and find solutions. She is particularly interested in personal fitness and hygiene during the coronavirus. She also writes for Dissertation writing service blog.