Most diets are focused on weight, whether it is for gaining or losing. You definitely want to gain weight if you are adding muscle to your physique, but you don't want to just focus on pounds. By adding in the right kind of foods to your diet, you can more easily gain the muscle mass you want.
1. Changing Your Diet Is Never Enough
Whether you are losing weight for health or deliberately gaining muscle mass, exercise is also a key part of how to make the changes you want. While cardio is normally the best for losing weight, weight resistance is the key to building muscle.
If you are one of the people who feels as though you don't have enough time to get to a fitness center three times a week, you should consider a home gym. When you work out at home, you can skip the drive to the gym and get straight to work. A home gym doesn't have to be fancy, and there are several activities you can do without any equipment at all.
To add bulk, exercise your upper and lower body at least three times a week, and alternate which muscles so you give your muscles a rest after working out. Some great exercises(1) are push-ups, planks, crunches, squats, and lunges. You can get some hand weights at a used sporting equipment store or use something you already have, like a gallon of milk, to do bicep curls and other basic curling exercises.
2. How to Eat?
Gaining muscle mass is easier if you change how you eat(2). You may be in the habit of eating three meals a day, out of habit. To gain muscle, you need to add more protein to your diet, and you shouldn't add it all at the end of the day with a protein shake. It turns out that you can add that muscle mass more quickly and effectively if you eat protein throughout the day.
Even though you should still avoid junk food, you will need to add extra calories to your diet to build muscle. For one thing, if you don't take in enough calories, you won't have the energy you need to work out effectively. For another, taking in extra fats and carbs will make it easier for your body to send some of the protein into storage to build muscle.
Calories mean energy, and carbs are the best way to get quick energy. Just make sure you are taking in healthy carbs, like sweet potatoes and brown rice, instead of cookies and cake. You don't want to eat extra food to gain muscle but just add fat instead.
3. What to Eat?
It will be easier to plan your diet if you know what specific foods are best to help you meet your goal. Here are some of the best foods for gaining lean muscle:
- Eggs are one of the best foods because they are flexible and easy to add to dishes. They are high in protein and healthy fats and also contain other important nutrients like B vitamins. Leucine is an amino acid important for weight gain, and eggs have large amounts of it.
- Just 3 ounces of salmon contains about 17 grams of protein, important B vitamins, and important Omega-3 fatty acids that help in muscle health and gain.
- 3 ounces of chicken breast contains 26 grams of protein and important B vitamins. Diets high in chicken have been found to be associated with weight loss.
- Greek yogurt is dairy, so it is a good source of protein, but it also has other proteins that together help increase muscle mass. Greek yogurt has about twice the protein of regular yogurt.
- Half a cup of soybeans has about 14 grams of protein, Vitamin K, phosphorous, and iron. Soybeans also have healthy, unsaturated fats and several vitamins and minerals, and they are high in fiber, so they can be used to help plan a balanced diet.
- Protein powders are popular for adding extra protein to a diet and may consist of soy, pea, beef, or chicken protein.
Building extra muscle can be fun, and the changes you make don't have to be complicated.
(1) “How to Build Muscle at Home”. wikiHow, 2020, https://www.wikihow.com/Build-Muscle-at-Home. Accessed 8 April. 2020.
(2) “5 Diet Changes You Need to Make to Build Muscle”. Men's Health, 2017, https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19540064/how-to-build-muscle-5-diet-changes-you-need-to-make-gains/. Accessed 8 April. 2020.
(3) “Frequent Consumption of Selenium-Enriched Chicken Meat By Adults Causes Weight Loss and Maintains Their Antioxidant Status”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20809267. Accessed 8 April. 2020.
(4) “26 Foods That Help You Build Lean Muscle”. Healthline, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/26-muscle-building-foods. Accessed 8 April. 2020.