For anyone who is interested in building muscle, whether it’s through recreational gym use, bulking up, or toning up for a specific sport or even competitive bodybuilding, it’s important to be aware of just how crucial diet is. Regular training, exercise, and weight lifting are all important components, but they are nowhere near as effective if you are not consuming the right foods to help build muscle and reduce fat intake.
A Brief Summary of How Building Muscle Works
Whenever you train with weights, exercise, or partake in a physical activity you are using your muscles. Weight training aims to target specific muscle groups and make them work hard, which causes the muscle to break down; once it has been broken down through training, it gradually recovers and builds back up to be stronger. The process of following a workout with rest and recovery is essential, and it is therefore important to maximise the benefits of the recovery period in order to give your body everything it needs to repair itself.
The Importance of High Protein Foods in Muscle Repair
If you are weightlifting and aiming to build muscle, the first dietary requirement that needs consideration is protein. This is a nutrient that is found in a variety of foods and which assists your body in repairing itself; in short, the body needs protein to repair the muscles that are damaged in training. Regular weight training requires a large amount of protein, as the muscles in your body are being broken down more fully than they would be in other sports – it is therefore important to monitor your food intake, making sure that your diet is rich in the protein your worn-down body will crave. Another consideration is how much fat you have in your diet; one mistake that people often make is to increase their general food intake so they consume more protein, but in doing so also increase their intake of fat. For this purpose there are certain foods which are ideal for weight training as they allow your muscles to repair themselves, but without compromising your waistline in the process.
High in Protein, Low in Fat – Food Groups and Products
Many food groups provide excellent sources of protein. However, the different foods contained in these groups will have different fat contents; it is therefore important to select foods and products which will maximise the benefit to your muscles while limiting you intake of fat.
High Protein Foods – Dairy Produce
While most dairy products have good levels of protein in them, certain foods (such as cheese) also contain high levels of fat. Skimmed milk is an excellent solution, providing a good source of protein while containing only trace amounts of fat. It is therefore an excellent post-workout drink, as it provides a refreshing source of muscle-repair while keeping the fat levels down to a minimum. Another useful dairy product to add to your diet is low-fat yoghurt, which contains protein and can be complemented by the addition of dried fruit or nuts (another protein-rich food).
High Protein Foods – Poultry, Fish and Eggs
As another food group that is very high in protein, poultry also has the benefit of being a lot less fatty than red meat. It is therefore a better option for someone who is hoping to build muscle while reducing their fat intake. Care should be taken as to the method of preparation, however, as certain cooking methods obviously add to the overall fat content of a meal; grilling instead of frying, for example, would be preferred due to the absence of unnecessary oil. Similarly, fish also provides an equally excellent source of protein and can add some variety into your diet. In terms of a high protein breakfast favourite, eggs are a versatile winner, and can offer a more substantial meal if you get bored of yoghurt and nuts.
High Protein Foods – Protein Shakes
While they have their share of skeptics, protein shakes made from natural products such as whey can act as the ultimate post-workout beverage. They provide a fast-acting, cost-effective source of protein that, if taken soon after a weight training session, can work quickly to start replenishing damaged muscle. They come in a variety of flavours and often contain different nutrients and ingredients, so it is advisable to properly research them before purchase in order to find the right supplement to suit your needs. Despite the rumours, they don’t all taste that bad, either (although it is worth noting that some of them do).