Advertisements about the latest exercise equipment and workout routines clog any fitness lover’s news feed and inbox. We see it all the time: do this exercise to gain 12 pounds of muscle, do this routine to have bigger shoulders. But this is a common misconception- muscles simply won’t grow, no matter how much exercise you do.
Yes, exercising is integral to developing your muscles. It’s also responsible for a whole slew of other benefits, such as gaining physical stamina and endurance, correct or improve your posture, and even helping increase your sexual potency–of course if erectile dysfunction persists, consider visiting your doctor and asking about a GAINSWave treatment. But exercise is limited to only developing what muscle mass you currently have.
As a matter of fact, exercise actually breaks down your muscles with micro-tears. The body then uses protein to rebuild this muscle, and this is where the muscle ‘grows’ in size.
In order to ‘grow’ and get more buff, you need to gain muscle. And gaining muscle happens when you’re eating not when you’re exercising. So yes, muscles are made in the kitchen and developed in the gym. So how do you eat to gain muscle? Below are some helpful tips to get you started.
Watch Your Macros
At this point, everyone knows that protein is necessary to build muscle. But one thing that one must not forget that protein isn’t just the only nutrient that you need. Other than protein, you also need to watch both your fat and carbohydrate intake. These three combined are commonly known as macro nutrients and are the components of food that fuels the body’s system and processes. Balancing your macro nutrient intake is important to gain muscle weight instead of fat weight.
The distribution between protein, carbohydrates, and fats generally differs depending on a person’s lifestyle. But for someone whose goal is to pack on muscle, it’s important to pack on protein. A usual split many fitness experts recommend is 40 percent protein, with both fat and carbohydrates receiving 30 percent each.
Don’t Eat More, Eat More Often Instead
Another common misconception when it comes to building weight is to eat large meals. This is not advisable as your body can only digest so much protein at a time, effectively making your meals counteractive to muscle growth. Eating large amounts in one sitting can also result in bloat, making your midsection bigger than it normally is. Instead of eating large meals, eat smaller meals with 2 hours of space in between.
This will allow your body to break down the nutrients you’re taking, making efficient and effective use of the nutrient-dense food that should make up your diet. This also helps you avoid feeling bloated and lethargic all the time. Eating more frequently also prevents your body from catabolizing too much, which prevents you from gaining weight.
Consider Using BCAA
When we consume protein, our body breaks it down to something called amino acids. They then repair and grow the muscle, eventually making your muscles look bigger. However, overworking yourself during exercise or daily life can hinder the growth of your muscles. To counteract this, you can take branched-chain amino acid supplements to help your muscles grow, prevent the muscles from wasting away, and even ease muscle soreness.
Many professional athletes or fitness models take BCAA supplements to help their bodies recover faster from strenuous workouts. While you can get BCAA from food such as milk, soy proteins, corn, and others, you might still want to consider taking supplements. Given that it can be difficult to create a diet plan including food with BCAA all the time, supplements such as help you reach your goal of muscle gain.
Cheat Days are Important, Too
Gaining exclusively muscle is a difficult feat to pull off. It’s something that even the most elite of bodybuilders have a hard time accomplishing, as food would naturally contain both fat and carbohydrates that add to your total body weight. However, this doesn’t mean you should diet like a madman and completely avoid food that has fats or sugars.
It’s important to eat sweets or other non-healthy food every once in a while. This is commonly called ‘cheat meals’, and it’s something that everyone going on strict regimens should try. Having a cheat meal in between long stretches of strict dieting helps reset your hormones that metabolize and regulates insulin.
Our bodies naturally adjust to our diet and confusing our system every now and again helps promote steady and healthy weight gain, while preventing a ‘plateau,’ or reaching a perceived threshold of the body.