Increasing your muscle mass is critical for many sports but it's also important for injury recovery and prevention, increasing your metabolism and maintaining your functional capacity.
Below are my top nutrition tips if you want to gain some lean mass.
1. Train hard
If you aren't training right or hard enough you may put on more fat mass than muscle or possibly see no results at all. When you want to gain muscle, we make sure your body is in an 'anabolic' zone. This just means that you are building or storing. However, in this zone you may be building either muscle or fat mass depending on how you train.
Work with a university qualified exercise physiologist or scientist to develop a plan that is tailored to you. Find a trainer.
2. Get enough calories
Face the fact now that you are going to be eating ALOT of food. We need more calories coming in than what you are burning so that you are in the 'anabolic' or storage zone. The moment you start to feel below a 6/10 full (10 being stuffed full) you could be crossing out of the anabolic zone.
Are you weight stable? Try adding on an extra 1000kcal to what you are currently eating.
Are you losing weight? Try adding an extra 1500-2000kcal.
Any changes in training? More training means more food. Specific types of training (e.g. HIIT) will mean even more food than others. Makes sure you touch base with a dietitian here.
3. Total protein
Evidence supports between 1.6-2.2g/protein per kg of body weight. For example if I weight 65kg then I will need between 104-143g protein. Most people will hit their total requirements easily.
4. Protein distribution
This is where many people struggle. If you decided to have a massive steak at night and hit your total protein in 1-2 meals, that's not going to be much use. You need to split up your protein intake across the day.
Every 3-4 hours your muscles cycle through building up and breaking down. During this cycle they require fresh amino acids (from protein) to help maximise muscle growth. Fresh amino acids (especially one called Leucine) help to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and promote greater growth.
Research supports 20-30g of high quality protein at these times - more than this will just be burned as calories. High quality protein means that it contains the full range of essential amino acids. All animal protein sources (dairy, meats, fish and poultry) as well as soy and quinoa are high quality proteins. Plant based-proteins only contain some. If you are vegan, make sure to pair you plant based protein source with another plant based source e.g. beans and legumes with nuts, nuts with grains, grains with legumes.
5. Other important factors to consider
Sleep! Make sure you get your 7-8 hours of high quality sleep. When you sleep growth hormone is produced which is essential for building muscle!
Inflammation can be caused by high stress, poor sleep, high training load etc. When your body is in an inflammatory state, its not going to be prioritising building muscle. Anti-inflammatory nutrition can be important in addition to managing the root cause of the inflammation.
All the best with getting ripped!