I regularly get emails from people asking about specific dietary practices when trying to build muscle. Well, I asked the guys at Examine.Com to share their most current knowledge on the topic - here it is!
Optimizing Muscle Building and Diet
To ensure optimum muscle growth, a caloric excess is vital. Theoretically, it is possible to build muscle on a mild caloric deficit, but an excess makes the process go much smoother. It doesn’t matter where your calories come from, assuming you’ve hit your protein targets, but “healthier” food tends to be the better option.
Protein targets are in the range of 1.5-2.2g per kilogram of bodyweight (.7-1g per pound) for non-obese people. If you are obese, calculate your protein needs based on your height, while substituting an overweight or normal BMI to avoid the overconsumption of protein. Too much protein isn’t a bad thing from a health standpoint, but it is unnecessary. Pre-workout nutrition
Regardless of what you eat during the day, you should aim to exert maximal power during your workout. A pre-workout meal, snack or supplement protocol is essential for hitting that max.
When determining your ideal pre-workout nutrition, keep in mind:
- Carbohydrates, protein and creatine should be present in your blood, in elevated levels, during your workout.
- Take care to avoid upsetting your stomach or inducing nausea, as this will impede your workout.
Fatty acids are not an important part of pre-workout nutrition. If you have stomach issues, take care to determine the best way to consume protein before your workout. Everyone is different, but a good way to determine your ideal protocol is:
- Take about half of your sugar before your workout (Gatorade is a great option), and sip on the rest during your workout.
- If sugar didn’t cause any stomach issues, add a little bit of protein (about 6-12 grams) to your pre-workout mix. If Gatorade and protein taste awful to you, consider swapping it for table sugar or blending fruit into the protein.
- If step 2 causes stomach problems, consider experimenting with isolated BCAAs or hydrolyzed protein sources. They are easier to digest.
- Once you have a mixture of glucose and amino acids that works for you, use the same mix for a week and track your performance. If performance is good, increase your dosage and continue tracking your performance.
- Eventually, increasing your dosage will not improve your workouts or your recovery. When that happens, record your ideal mix. Congratulations, you have determined your ideal pre-workout shake.
The average person will have an optimal shake of 80g of carbohydrates and 20g of amino acids, meant for an hour-long workout. Find out what works for you!
If you want to learn more about supplementation and stay up to date with the very latest research then I can highly recommend the Examine.Com Supplement Goals Reference Guide - a huge, evidence based reference that tells you exactly what the research says about hundreds of supplements. And all this without any marketing hype or spin. Plus, until Midnight Friday you can get it for $10 off.