Some experts suggest that muscle-building comes down to 20-percent exercise and 80-percent nutrition.
That means, working out more than you should will not build more muscle. In fact, you only need to work out each muscle group about 3 to 4 times per week, to see sizable gains. (Any less or any more could diminish your gains.)
The rest of the time, i.e. when you’re not in the gym or garage torturing your body, your muscles need to be resting and recuperating.
And, how well your muscles rest and recuperate comes down to the quality and quantity of your rest/sleep… and your nutrition, i.e. the quality of the fuel and building blocks you’re using to feed your muscles.
In other words, your muscles don’t grow while you’re working out in the gym. They get big and strong when you’re done working out…and in between your workouts, i.e. during your rest period.
However, you do still need to work out. Because, your muscles need to undergo some stress and strain in order to want to grow and get strong, so they can be ready to handle your next workout.
And, while you only need to work each muscle group 3 to 4 times per week, those workouts need to be high-intensity – and well-executed.
Of course, working out regularly is another very important piece of the equation.
Well, guess what… in order to effectively make it through those high-intensity workouts, week after week, and month after month, you need the right kinds of fuel to keep you going.
And, we’re back to nutrition again. Now, you can see why as much as 80-percent of muscle building comes down to proper nutrition.
So, the quality of your workouts and the quality of your nutrition go hand-in-hand. One can’t work without the other. And, if any of them is missing or deficient, you will not see the kind of results you’re after.
And, since this special report is about the nutritional side of the muscle-building process, that’s what we’ll focus on…
Protein Is Not Enough
Yes, we are all aware of the importance of consuming enough protein, in order to build muscle.
Protein provides the nutrients your body needs for muscle growth. And, you need up to a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, each day.
That means, a 150-pound individual would need up to 150 grams of protein per day, just to maintain his current muscle mass. And, an individual who wants to weigh 170 pounds would need up to 170 grams of protein per day, to achieve his desired muscle gains.
Of course, the problem is, most people focus only on protein consumption, i.e. the primary building blocks of muscle…and they ignore (or aren’t aware of) the importance of keeping the body properly fueled, in order to build that muscle and maintain the muscle they’ve worked so hard to build.
You see, consuming protein will only make your muscles grow if your workouts are regular…and of high-quality and high intensity.
And, the only way to continue blasting out high-quality and high-intensity workouts on a regular basis is by keeping your body well-fueled…while you’re in, as well as out of, the gym.
In this report, we are going to talk about those other key nutrients that are usually missing from most people’s muscle-building programs (aside from the obvious “protein” component.)
So, if you’re tired of spending hours at the gym and force-feeding yourself with protein, and still not being able to build muscle fast enough, pay close attention to the tips provided below…
Even if they don’t work out regularly, most people are often dehydrated simply from engaging in their day-to-day activities, because they don’t drink enough fluids during the day.
If you wait until you’re thirsty before you have something to drink, it’s usually too late…and your body is already somewhat dehydrated.
So, keeping your body well hydrated, by sipping on fluids throughout the day, is the way to go.
Yes, you may have to visit the restroom more often, during any given day. But, in return, you will have more energy, less headaches, and your body will function better and be much healthier, overall.
And yes, staying hydrated will help you build muscle more efficiently… and keep you from getting fatigued too quickly during a workout. (Weak workouts equal weak results.)
Of course, if you’re someone who works out regularly (as you should, for maximum muscle development,) your body will obviously be revving slightly higher than normal, hence using up even more fluids than other individuals.
So, it’s even more important to stay hydrated throughout the day…and especially before, during, and after your workouts…so that you can execute high-quality, high-intensity workouts. Otherwise, you won’t see muscle gains.
Sipping on some water during your workout – in between sets – is highly recommended. However, be careful not to choke on it or drink so much that you start feeling bloated. (Let your heavy breathing subside before drinking, and drink very small quantities – a sip or two each time.)
Working out without being adequately hydrated will not only slow you down, it can be dangerous. It’s not uncommon for dehydrated athletes to collapse mid-workout and seriously injure themselves.
And, no, we’re not talking about sodas, coffee, alcohol, or even many of those bottled/canned high-sugar juices, when I refer to “fluids.”
When in doubt, stick to plain water. You can always squeeze a little bit of lemon (or even orange or other fruits) into it, if it makes it easier for you to drink water.
But, if you want to take it up a notch, I highly recommend that you try coconut water.
Coconut water is especially great as a post-workout hydrator because it also replenishes the body with other nutrients and electrolytes it needs.
And, it tastes great too. Of course, you can also have it anytime, not just after a workout… even with (or after) your meals.
I would suggest that you stick to natural and pure coconut water as much as possible, without any added flavors or fruit juices… unless you prefer the taste of the other flavors.
(If you do decide to use flavored or mixed/blended coconut water, be careful of the additional calories, sugar and other ingredients that are added into the mix.)
Important: You should also be careful to not over-hydrate yourself and/or drown your body in the process.
Having a sip or two of fluid every hour can be a good place to start. If you start feeling bloated, you may be drinking too much too fast.
And, of course, be mindful of weather changes as well as your overall activity level on any given day…and adjust accordingly. (If it happens to be an extremely hot day, or if you happen to be running around all day long, you may want to increase your fluid intake to compensate.)
Cranking out high-quality workouts week after week can be difficult if the energy reserves of your body are low.
It can become harder and harder for you to drag yourself back into the gym, and then survive an hour (or more) of intense pushing, pulling, and lifting.
But, things can become a lot easier when your body is already fueled up and ready to go.
Your body can use stored fat, protein (muscle) as well as (previously consumed) carbohydrates as energy.
However, the most easily-accessible source of energy in your body is glycogen, which is glucose (sugar) in storage form.
The meals you’ve had earlier in the day, or even the previous night, can continue to supply your body with the glycogen reserve it needs, to function normally.
But, when you introduce a high-intensity workout into your day, you can start to use up that reserve much quicker.
And, as your glycogen reserves get lower, your body can slow down more and more, until you’re tapped out.
So, in order to maintain your energy reserves during your high-intensity workouts, you need to plan ahead and keep your glycogen supply available throughout your entire workout.
Having a high-quality meal at least a few hours before your workout is a good idea here, since it can keep your supply up and provide you with the endurance you’ll need.
Along with some protein, it’s important to have a high-quality source of carbohydrates with that meal.
You obviously do not want to stuff yourself so much that you can’t workout. But, you also don’t want to eat too little. Everybody is different so you’ll have to experiment and figure out what the right amount / serving size is for you.
Multi-grain bread, pasta, or leafy-green vegetables can all work well here, along with some high-quality protein like grilled/baked salmon, eggs, or even lean chicken or turkey.
Next, I highly recommend that you have the right snack, at least 30 minutes to an hour before your workout.
A great pre-workout snack that can continue to fuel your intense activity is almonds.
Almonds are the ideal snack because they contain healthy carbohydrates, protein, as well as some healthy fats, which we will talk more about, soon.
Plus, almonds have a low glycemic index. Therefore, they burn slower and can continue to fuel you for longer periods (unlike, say, straight sugar or even some fruits.)
Just 6 to 12 almonds can do wonders as a pre-workout snack. Be sure to drink enough water after eating the almonds, to ensure that you don’t choke or start coughing during your workout. (This can happen if little bits of almonds are still hanging around in your throat area.)
Snacking on almonds can also work well to fuel you through those shorter workouts or runs…or even during those crazy situations where you’re feeling hungry because you missed a meal, but you have to go workout within the hour so you can’t have an actual meal.
Post-Workout Muscle Builder
What you eat – and how soon you eat – after a workout can make a huge difference to your “mega muscle” gains.
Having the right combination of nutrients (not necessarily via a full-blown meal) within the first 15 minutes of finishing an intense workout can improve your muscle gains considerably.
On the flip side… if you wait too long after your workout to consume the right nutrients, you may not build as much muscle. In fact, you may even start to lose some muscle mass that you already have.
So, what is this ideal combination of nutrients to consume within 15 minutes of finishing a workout?
It is one part protein and 1.5 parts carbohydrates. Protein is obviously the building blocks for your muscles. And, pairing this protein with the right amount of carbohydrates helps your body absorb and utilize the protein more efficiently.
Many athletes purchase post-workout drinks, shakes or supplements that promise to deliver the ideal ratio of protein and carbohydrates for maximum muscle replenishment and growth.
You can go out there and try to figure out which shake or drink is right for your particular needs.
Believe it or not, milk happens to naturally contains about the right protein-to-carbohydrate ratio that you’ll need for your post-workout nourishment.
You may be saying, “Well, duh! I already knew that milk was good for me.”
Maybe you did. But, I’m not telling you to use milk as your primary protein source. (You can do that if you want to.)
I’m specifically advising you to use milk as your post-workout fuel… as soon after your workout as possible…ideally within the first 15 minutes.
You may want to have a few sips of water first, immediately after you finish your workout. And, then, down about 12 to 24 ounces of milk (depending on your body size) before you drive back home, hit the shower, go out to eat, or whatever it is that you plan on doing after your workout.
Usually, people like to use low-fat or nonfat milk in this scenario.
Personally I prefer (organic) whole milk because it’s a whole food, i.e. it hasn’t been chemically altered like the low-fat or nonfat varieties.
In other words, organic whole milk is the closest thing to naturally-occurring milk you can get (unless you happen to have a free-range cow in your backyard.)
But, if you’d rather use the low-fat, nonfat and/or skim version, that’s your choice.
Of course, if you prefer soymilk, rice milk, or almond milk, that’s okay too. Just be sure that it’s providing your body with the right amount of protein and carbohydrate combo, without too many additional ingredients.
(You may have to drink a larger quantity of these alternative sources to provide you with the right amounts of the two required nutrients.)
More Fat for More Muscle...
If you don’t already know, there is good fat and there is bad fat that exist naturally in foods.
And, if you’re striving for optimum health – along with some big muscles to show off, including healthy fats in your diet is a very good idea.
My first favorite is olive oil, which has already been hailed as one of the wonder nutrients for many years, and is also recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet.
And, now you can add “muscle retention” to the list of benefits that olive oil provides.
Without getting too much into the science behind it, olive oil prevents our body’s muscle from breaking down (read: getting smaller and weaker) by lowering a specific cellular protein that tends to damage muscle.
I recommend only using extra-virgin olive oil, which is healthier, and also provides your body with a solid dose of Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is also known to help your body maintain the muscle mass that you’re working so hard to build – by fighting off free radicals… including the free radicals produced during/after a workout. (A salad with extra-virgin olive oil dressing, or a meal cooked with this oil would work well.)
My next favorite “good fat” is fish oil, which provides your body with omega-3 fatty acids.
This “good fat” can actually help you in reducing your (bad) body fat, if taken regularly.
But, how does that help you to build more muscle, you ask?
Well…for starters, by reducing the fat weight of your body, your overall health will improve. That means, all of your body functions will improve and become more efficient, including the muscle-building process.
Less fat weight will also help you to move around more easily and efficiently. And, you may even be able to lift more poundage, i.e. have high-intensity workouts, without getting tired or fatigued as quickly as before.
And, let’s not forget the side benefit: less fat on your body will only make you look more muscular, especially if you’re going for that “chiseled abs” six-pack look. In fact, every major muscle in your body will become more prominent when there’s less fat to obscure it.
(Be sure to get omega-3 fish oil supplements that provide both DHA and EPA. This should be stated pretty clearly on the front label on the package.)
Remember, the “mega muscle” formula is simple: high-intensity workouts, done effectively – and regularly.
Add to that some high-quality protein consumption on a daily basis and you’ll be seeing some impressive muscle gains sooner than most people (who continue to waste endless hours at the gym.)
Of course, performing high-intensity workouts – and coming back for more, on a regular basis – requires that you keep your body hydrated, optimally fueled, and retain the muscle gains that you already made from earlier workouts (or will soon make.)