Molly McNamee | Eating for muscle gains
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Eating for muscle gains

All month I have been talking about resolutions: how to lose weight, how to de-stress through yoga, and how to create curves through exercise. I think it’s about time I talk about nutrition and how it can play a part in allowing you to fulfill your goals.

If you have made a health-based resolution this year, diet is going to play a big part in your success. If you have vowed to lose weight in 2017, you should be focusing on your food choices and how much you eat. If you have decided you want to create curves and build muscle this year, your food choices and how much you eat will also be impactful.

If you are hoping to increase the size of one or all of your muscles this year, you need be smart about what you eat. It goes without saying if you want to lose weight you need to eat less, and if you want to gain weight you need to eat more. But, if you want to gain muscle, you still need to eat more. I know this can sometimes be scary, but if you want to increase the size of your muscles, your body fat may increase slightly too. You have to eat a fair amount of food to put on size. However, if you are making healthy food choices and timing your meals so they correlate with your workouts, ideally you won’t put on too much fat and have most of the food go to your muscles.

When adding muscle, you need to increase your calories and consume a fair amount of protein. You should be eating high protein meals through tout the day and after all of your strength workouts. It is also a good idea to eat your high-carb meal directly after your workout because that is the time when your body digests carbs the best. Your body needs food to grow. The good news is, once you have built up a good amount of muscle you can tapper back down to maintenance calories and shed off some of the body fat you don’t want.

Maintenance calories are the amount of calories you need to eat to maintain your weight. To figure out your maintenance calorie number, you should multiply your bodyweight (in pounds) with your activity level. If you are very active and workout 5-7 times a week, you need to multiply your bodyweight by 16. If you are moderately active and workout 3-4 times a week, you should multiply your bodyweight by 14. Finally, if you are sedentary and not working out much at all, you should multiply your bodyweight by 12. These equations will help estimate your maintenance calories. Of course these numbers are estimations, so you may need to experiment with what amount of food makes you feel best.

If you are trying to lose weight you should eat slightly below maintenance calories, if you are trying to gain weight or gain muscles you should eat slightly above.

I mentioned in my Top 9 Tips For Weight Loss that finding your ideal macro split could help you achieve your goal of weight loss. This is another good thing to track when trying to put on muscle. Remember that every body is different some people see exceptional muscle growth by eating an insane amount of protein. Others see results by eating tons of carbohydrates. Just as you may need to experiment to find your ideal calorie intake, you likely need to do the same with your macros.

As you can see, weight loss and muscle gain require a lot of experimentation, and a lot that goes into creating a sound program. But, as far as nutrition goes you need, if you only remember one thing, remember this. If you want to lose weight, eat less. If you want to gain weight, eat more. And above all be smart, make healthy choices, and eat around your maintenance calories.