Have you ever questioned your progress when it comes to strength and muscle gains? When it comes to training, it’s important to be patient but it’s quite possible that your development may have been stunted for part or even the entire duration of your time training. One of the key aspects that contribute to your long term progress is your consumption of foods. With that said it’s important to question your priorities and set goals that allow you to take appropriate steps to achieving them.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that you want to have some idea as to whether you are trying to stay nice and lean or push for strength and size development. Each of these will have a pretty significant impact on your diet and you’ll do well if you know how. In my 8 years around sports and athlete training, I’ve come across countless athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts that preach about gaining muscle. When asked about diet, they either don’t have a solid plan or follow a plan that is better suited to someone who wants to lose fat, not gain muscle.
The reality of it is that if you want to drive strength or muscle adaptations to training you have to eat enough food in the way of carbohydrates to drive your workouts and protein for recovery. It’s not uncommon for me to speak with athletes that actively avoid fat in their diet. Fats are worth more than twice the calories per gram of that found in protein or carbs. Removing fat from the diet can quickly leave you in a caloric deficit which is the opposite of what you want as a person trying to gain weight. Along with that, fats are vital to a number of bodily processes including the synthesis of testosterone. Monounsaturated and saturated fats are key to testosterone synthesis. This isn’t to be confused with Trans Fats which are manmade and should be avoided.
So without an in depth knowledge of the science, here are some tips to help you add get moving with those gains. Firstly, make sure you have a source of protein with each meal. Good choices include Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Beef, Egg Albumen (the white part), beans, Lentils and Legumes. Having protein with each meal of the day will provide frequent sources of amino acids which are vital in the production of cells. If you are struggling to meet your requirements from whole foods, you can include a whey proteinpowder to supplement your intake.
Next up is the carbohydrates. Forget the diet fads and try to have a source of carbohydrates with each meal. If possible, avoid refined and simple carbs like white rice, white potato and sugar. Sugars from fruit sources are okay but don’t overdo it as they will still have a negative effect on your fat mass if taken in excess. Instead opt for sources like sweet potato, which though high in sugar has a lower glycaemic index than most carbohydrate sources. Wholegrain rice; my preference is basmati as it feels less like pellets and has a softer texture when cooked. Quinoa which is a grain that is also high in protein with a complete amino acid profile making it a super food. This one is a great addition for vegetarians in particular. It won’t be long before you notice strength increases and even size gains.
Lastly are fats. As I mentioned they are a key factor in the synthesis of testosterone. Good sources of fats are nuts, oils like olive, flaxseed and coconut oil. Eggs, avocados and red meat are also great sources. Remember that fats are very calorie dense so take care not to take on too many.