How does your body use protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calories to build muscle? If you ignore your diet and nutrition, you’ll have a tough time building muscle. If your body doesn’t have the right fuel and nutrients available to build muscle, you’ll work very hard for very few muscular gains.
No nutrition program works perfectly for everyone, but certain basic nutrition principles are universal when you’re trying to achieve fat loss while building and maintaining muscle.
Macronutrients are key. Macronutrients are simply nutrients that your body requires in large amounts. These nutrients provide energy or calories and include:
- Proteins – Proteins provide four calories per gram.
- Carbohydrates – Carbs provide four calories per gram.
- Fats – Fats provide nine calories per gram.
Why are macronutrients essential? Building muscle isn’t just about calories. The source of your calories also matters. For example, if you’re aiming for 4,000 calories a day, but you get most of your calories from fats while your protein and carb intake is deficient, you’ll have a tough time reaching your muscle-building goals. Unless you have the right balance of macronutrients, it’s tough to reach your fitness goals.
Proteins – Protein plays a vital role in muscle building because it uses proteins to construct all body tissues. Your body uses proteins to help repair muscles after a tough workout, which is why it’s so important to get enough protein. It’s also essential to make sure that you’re eating the right kind of protein.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Certain amino acids can be made by your body, while others cannot. The amino acids that your body can’t make must be taken in through your diet. Your body must have all the essential amino acids to repair or build tissue.
Proteins fall into two categories:
- Incomplete Proteins – Incomplete proteins do not contain all essential amino acids and generally come from non-animal sources, such as nuts, veggies, and beans.
- Complete Proteins – Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids, and they generally come from animal sources.
Protein Recommendations – Bodybuilding experts, recommend two grams of protein per kilo of body weight each day. However, a more natural way to calculate your protein needs is to ensure that a minimum of 30% of your calorie intake comes from protein.
Carbohydrates and muscle building. Many people make the mistake of cutting out carbs when they try to gain muscle, but you need those carbs to fuel your body when you’re exercising. Carbs are the primary source of energy for your body, and if you severely reduce your carbs, you’ll also reduce your energy levels, making muscle building more difficult.
Carbohydrates fall into two groups:
- Complex Carbs – Complex carbs take longer to digest, and they contain more nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Simple Carbs – Simple carbohydrates are carbs that are quickly digested. Simple carbs also lead to spikes in blood sugar. It’s vital to limit simple carbs, such as sugar, sodas, white bread, pastries, etc.
About 40% of your calories should come from carbs when you’re focusing on lean muscle building. Grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables offer excellent sources of complex carbs.
Fats and muscle. It would be best if you also had some dietary fats to achieve your muscle-building goals. Many people make the mistake of trying to avoid fasts when they’re working to build muscle. Fats are essential to your body, and certain types of fat are necessary for muscle growth, muscle recovery, joint health, brain function, and more. Don’t assume that eating fat will make you fat. It’s eating too many calories from the wrong fats to make you fat, not consuming fat.
Fats fall into three main groups, including:
Saturated Fats – Saturated fats generally come from animal sources, such as meat, eggs, and dairy products. Consuming both saturated and unsaturated fats can help you maintain high testosterone levels, making it easier for you to gain muscle.
Unsaturated Fats – Unsaturated fats generally come from vegetable sources, and they are known as “good” fats because they help raise your levels of “good” cholesterol. Some unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease. Excellent sources of unsaturated fats include nuts, fish, and vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
Trans Fatty Acids – Trans fatty acids are a type of fat that you should avoid.
How much fat should you eat? Approximately 25-30% of your calorie intake should come from healthy fats and Omega-3 fatty acids.