In fitness, a balanced diet is just as important as a training program. For this reason, you should not expect positive results from training without changing your eating habits. This rule applies not only to training conducted to reduce excess weight, but also to fitness classes to gain muscle mass.
Factors affecting the growth of muscle mass during fitness
The process of increasing muscle volume depends on the following factors:
- intensity of fitness activities and training programs.
For active muscle growth, it is necessary to work with maximum weight, performing a small number of repetitions. Under such conditions, myofibrils — special muscle fibers — receive microtrauma. It is the regeneration of these microtraumas in the following days that leads to an increase in the number of muscle cells;
- body type.
It depends on the innate constitution of the body how much a person is initially predisposed to gaining muscle mass. The hardest thing to increase muscle volume, despite following the principles of proper sports nutrition, is ectomorph people, whose body type is characterized by thin bones and a fast metabolism. Difficulties with gaining muscle mass also arise in endomorphs, which are genetically predisposed to fullness. With an increase in the caloric content of the diet necessary for gaining muscle mass, along with the number of muscle cells, the volume of adipose tissue also increases. The easiest way to build muscle is for people with a mesomorphic body type;
- calorie content of food.
To increase muscle volume, the diet, depending on individual characteristics, should correspond to or slightly exceed the daily calorie intake, calculated taking into account anthropometric parameters and lifestyle. For muscle growth in the body, conditions for an energy surplus must be created;
- nutritional balance.
The diet should contain all the nutrients necessary for the normal functioning of the body, the growth of muscle tissue, as well as the replenishment of energy consumed during strength fitness.
The role of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in nutrition for increasing muscle mass
Proper sports nutrition involves keeping a strict record of not only the calorie content of the diet, but also its nutritional value. A balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats is extremely important to create conditions conducive to the formation of new muscle tissue cells. For the normal course of anabolic processes that promote muscle growth, nutrition must meet the following parameters:
- The daily amount of protein should be 2–2.5 g per kilogram of weight.
When protein is synthesized in the body, new muscle cells are formed, therefore, with a lack of it, an increase in muscle volume will not occur, even if fitness activities are extremely intense. When consuming protein in an amount exceeding the daily dose, one should not expect a sharp increase in muscles either, since excess protein is not absorbed by the body. For active muscle growth, animal protein is more useful, for example, dietary poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, milk and hard cheese. In addition, these foods are full of useful amino acids necessary for digestion and subsequent protein synthesis;
- Carbohydrates are just as important in building muscle as protein.
They give energy that allows a person to perform complex physical exercises with the maximum working weight. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles in the form of glycogen, which is subsequently used by the body as an energy resource. Proper sports nutrition involves the presence of slow carbohydrates in the diet. They are found in large quantities in cereals and legumes, fruits and potatoes. Slow carbohydrates saturate for a longer period of time than fast ones, and in addition, eating foods with slow carbohydrates does not cause sharp spikes in blood glucose levels, which are accompanied by an acute feeling of hunger;
- fats are involved in many processes in the body, for example, in the formation of cell membranes, the synthesis of tissue hormones.
In addition, fats, namely essential fatty acids, ensure the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system and the articular-ligamentous apparatus. Healthy fats are rich in such foods: fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, as well as vegetable oils derived from them.
Recommendations for proper sports nutrition
In order to achieve consistently progressive positive results of increasing muscle mass, in parallel with fitness classes, the purpose of which is to stimulate active muscle growth, it is necessary to adhere to a special regimen and diet, following the following recommendations of specialists:
- the number of meals should be at least 5, 3 of which are main and 2–3 snacks. By eating food often and fractionally, but in small portions, you can prevent the onset of an acute feeling of hunger, as well as provide the body with all the necessary conditions for the stable course of anabolic processes;
- according to the principles of proper sports nutrition for muscle building, the ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates should correspond to the following proportion: protein — from 50 to 60%, carbohydrates — from 30 to 40% and fats — the remaining 10–20%;
- the amount of protein that enters the body with food should be at least 2–2.5 g per kilogram of weight. The lack of protein in food can be compensated by protein supplements and shakes;
- 1–1.5 hours before training, you need to eat a portion of food rich in slow carbohydrates in order to provide the body with enough energy for subsequent intensive work. In accordance with the principles of proper sports nutrition, after exercise, you should replenish your body’s protein stores by drinking a protein shake or eating a serving of protein food.