Choosing Foods to Gain Muscle Not Fat

One of the greatest challenges to someone new to body building is how to choose the right foods to gain muscle not fat. You should plan on a nutrition regime that is based on eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Although this sounds great, it really is more challenging than it sounds.

First, you need to understand why eating smaller meals several times a day helps you gain muscle, not fat. The simple answer is that feeding your body several times a day kicks your metabolism into gear.
When you don’t eat for a few hours (3-4 hours) your body switches to a conservation mode. You body thinks you’re trying to starve it so it feeds itself by going after your organ and muscle tissue and water stores. Then it stores calories for future use.

The most common thinking is that our diet needs to balance carbohydrates (40%), proteins (40%) and fat (20%) in the proper ratios.

Current advances in nutrition science is showing that for people who are a little older, not still growing, and who also want to lose body fat, that higher protein and lower carbs is a better mix.

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. Perhaps that’s why we refer to mashed potatoes and gravy as comfort food.
When you eat some of this comfort food your pancreas release a hormone called insulin. Insulin stores carbs ad muscle or fat. It also grabs amino acids and stores them in your muscle cells. When your muscles need to recover, they rely on those amino acids.

While it would be great to rely on carbohydrates to gain muscle, not fat, the bottom line is that too many carbohydrates causes your pancreas to release too much insulin. Too much insulin turns excess carbohydrate calories into fat. That’s why you need to balance your carbohydrate intake.

Carbohydrates come in two flavors: complex carbs and simple carbs. Simple carbohydrates, like fructose and sugar, give you an immediate burst of energy. Complex carbs are found in foods like oatmeal, pasta, corn, potatoes, yams, asparagus, squash and spinach.

You should eat mainly complex carbs, but in small portions throughout the day. This will create a consistent energy level to keep you feeling energized throughout the day.

Turn to simple carbs like bananas, grapes, yogurt or apples 20-30 minutes right before your workout. Eating simple carbs before your work out helps speed up the recovery time and actually aids in the building lean muscle. If you eat simple carbohydrates throughout the day the calories just get stored as fat.

You need protein to gain muscle not fat. However, eating too much protein doesn’t help your cause either. Excess protein becomes glucose for energy, is excreted and not used by the body, or is turned into fat. Good examples of lean protein are canned tuna fish in water, white fish, round steak, chicken or turkey breast and skim milk.

You need to consume a certain amount of fat calories too. Fats lubricate your joints and your hormone production relies on fats. If you remove fat from your diet your muscle building hormonal production drops.

Twenty percent of your daily caloric intake needs to be good fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Sources of good fats are canola oil, peanut butter, flaxseed oil, and fish oils.

A lot of people are now finding that addining nutrition shakes as part of their diet, especially if they have them before and/or after a training session, is a big help with building muscle and keeping energy levels high.

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