Did you think muscles are built in the gym? Not entirely! While the effort you put in to get through the countless crunches and hours of lifting are all part of the equation, what these intense workouts do is cause micro-tears to the muscles. The repair and muscle building/growth actually happens at home. Want the precise location? It’s your kitchen.
So, what do you do in your kitchen to build the muscles of your dreams, even if your ultimate goal is to shed all the extra pounds? [FYI, we’re not talking about Schwarzenegger-style bulging biceps — we’re talking about lean muscle.] The answer is, you should EAT.
High-protein food helps you build muscle before and after a workout. How much protein you need depends on your exercise routine. If exercise for you means your chair to bathroom and back, i.e., you’re mostly sedentary, you’re good with 0.8g protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This translates to roughly 45g for women and 55g for men. And if your workout routine is rigorous, increase your daily intake to 1.2g to 1.5g.
It’s best to get your protein from real food than powders and packaged shakes. So what should you eat?
No, carbs are not bad for you. Yes, you should eat carbs in moderation. Isn’t that true for all good things in life? Although low-carb diets are the new fad, not getting enough carbs in your diet can leave your muscles tired and decrease your athletic performance. Nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates help sustain glycogen stores in the muscles, which help you work out longer and much more effectively. Stock up on these to get your share of carbs:
Fat doesn’t make you fat. The only caveat is to avoid or cut trans fats and saturated fats (present in almost all processed food), and to eat the healthy ones in appropriate quantities. In the right amounts, healthy fats maintain hormonal function and improve metabolism. A fat-deprived or low-fat diet can prevent muscle growth, especially in people who do rigorous workouts. Include these healthy fats in your diet:
But only knowing the ingredients isn’t much use, is it? What do you do with them? At ImStrong’s nutrition brand Your10MB, we share quick and easy recipes to get you a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats.
The moral of this story is: have a kitchen, EAT food to build muscle! Eat the right food. In the right quantity. At the right time.
And while you’re in the kitchen for picking things from the fridge, sautéing, stirring, or tasting, use the countertop to get a few push-ups. Two birds with a stone, eh?