It is bulking season! Christmas is round the corner, the temperature is dropping and a few extra pounds may be what you desire. Hopefully I can help you reach your goal with three easy tips to help boost your muscle mass in time for the New Year.
- Eating enough protein
In order to build muscle you need protein, and this is not just post workout but all day and every day. I would recommend 2.2 g.kg-1.d-1 of protein intake per day, so for example an 80 kilogram person needs to consume 176 grams of protein per day in order to build muscle mass. Good natural sources of protein are chicken, turkey, eggs, oily fish, red meat, nuts, and milk. If you are finding it difficult to hit that target range of protein consumption then supplementation of whey protein shakes can help to elevate your protein intake to the recommended amount. Do not however replace meals with protein shakes because your body needs real food with real vitamins and minerals to function properly. When going to bed that will be your longest period of time without eating so your body requires a slow release protein which can work throughout the night to rebuild muscle, casein protein fits the bill. Milk is a great natural source of casein, however casein protein powder can also be an alternative if you can not stomach milk before bed.
- Eat Regularly
Your body is constantly functioning and burning calories, it does not just shut down when you are not exercising. This means muscle will be breaking down if you do not have enough calories in your body to maintain bodily functions. Thus eating regularly throughout the day is essential; if you are leaving big gaps between meals then you will never bulk up. You need to be consuming some form of protein source every 1.5-2 hours a day, alongside other essential nutrients.
- Other factors
Eating protein does not build muscle on its own, there are other important components that help to drive muscle growth. BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are the driving force behind muscle protein synthesis in the body, they are found in all natural foods containing protein however that is not always enough. Supplementation of BCAAs can elevate BCAA muscle content to a high enough level for greater muscle development and recovery. Research has found Leucine to be the most potent BCAA for muscle growth, with a mixture of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine being available on the market with a ratio containing greater Leucine content recommended (e.g 4:1:1). BCAAs should be taken at the start of each day to provide your body with the building blocks for muscle protein synthesis and prior to your gym session. Alongside BCAAs, testosterone is a trigger for muscle growth. Testosterone levels can be boosted via natural sources such as tuna, egg yolks, shellfish, and Vitamin D. The mineral zinc has also shown to increase testosterone levels in the body, again there are natural food sources such as spinach, beef, kidney beans, and pumpkin seeds which can provide the body with a natural increase in zinc levels. If you do not feel that you are getting enough zinc in your diet then ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium and Aspartate) supplement can do so, this has been shown in research to positively impact muscle growth and recovery when training, it also gives a great night’s sleep when taken before bed.
Discipline and planning are key elements in being able to implement the above tips, if you manage to do so then those gains are coming.
If you have any questions please feel free to comment below! Happy Bulking!