Running and strength training are essential types of exercise and a key factor to maintain our healthy weight and overall health. It also helps build muscle, which will help our body begin to burn calories more efficiently. As we gain muscle, we will also experience improved balance, flexibility, coordination and bone health.
But aside from dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands and running shoes, there’s another essential element involved in building muscle. Diet has the ability to play a large role in how efficiently and effectively strengthen and build up our muscles.
Simply adding more protein to our meal is very important, though it may seem the obvious choice, we also need lots of other types of nutrients to support our muscle bone and overall health. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essential for building muscle. However, we can’t build more muscle with only amino acids. Our body also needs lots of supporting nutrients, such as healthy carbohydrates, heart-healthy fats and even water and good hydration. It’s the combination of protein, those supporting nutrients and eating adequate calories that will help us fuel our body to reach our goals.
HERE ARE A FEW SMALL DIET RECOMMENDATIONS TO BUILD MORE MUSCLE
1. Don’t cut out carbs.
Carbohydrates are especially important when building muscle. We should eat carbohydrate-rich foods at breakfast to replenish fuel that’s broken down during sleep. After a run or workout, we need to eat them to restock glycogen burned during exercise. Carbohydrates are what our body uses for fuel during anaerobic exercises like running and weightlifting. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which stimulates insulin, a hormone that transports amino acids into muscle tissues.
It’s best to choose high-quality carbohydrates because refined carbohydrates, like those found in white bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar-filled snacks and cereals, can cause a rapid spike in blood glucose, followed by a sharp decline. Energy levels drop, along with the motivation for strength training. Instead, we should load up on minimally processed whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits, which deliver fiber, minerals and nutrients but keep blood sugar steady.
2. Boost your intake of heart-healthy fats.
Fat contains 9 calories per gram, more than double that of carbohydrates and protein. When it comes to running or strength training, fat is double efficient in providing our body with energy to fuel our exercise. Fat is also necessary for nutrient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). If we’re going to be eating fat we should choose heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fats.
3. Spread out your protein intake throughout the day.
Unlike carbohydrates and fat, excess protein isn’t stored for energy, so protein-loading in only one meal isn’t beneficial. There’s a limit to how much protein the body can use to build muscle at any given time, 30grams of protein per meal for runners and fit people is the recommendation. The goal is to build muscle, we will get the most benefits from our protein intake by spreading our daily intake among all your meals.
4. Choose quality protein from real food.
Protein drinks, powders, supplements, chocolates, cereals, bars and beyond are easy access to protein intake. But we should not ignore whole, unprocessed protein foods in our normal diet. Natural types of protein sources, such as seafood, lean meats, nuts and dairy, also contains essential vitamins and nutrients.
Stick to protein-rich whole foods and protein powder or protein bars, spread throughout the day.
5. Drink lots of water.
Our muscles are thirsty. Muscle fibers are more than 70% water. When muscles aren’t well-hydrated, protein production is inhibited and sometimes even starts to break down. Dehydration can also impact our performance, slow us down, cause greater damage to muscles and even impact digestion. Water will keep our GI tract healthy, and it helps us feel full.
THE WINNING COMBINATION TO SUPPORT MUSCLE STRENGTH & HEALTH
We should aim to eat protein-rich foods with high-quality carbohydrates that are full of fiber and heart-healthy fats. Combining these powerful nutrients will not only keep us fuller longer, but they also will give us the energy we need to continue running, strength training and building muscle.
Make a healthy diet by incorporating foods from the list below into your diet
Lentils: Plants don’t get more protein-packed than these little legumes, with 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber per cup.
Edamame: These beans are a starchy mix of protein and fibre- 8 grams and 4 grams, per 1/2 cup. This powerful combination will both fill us up quickly and keep us more full for long durations.
Quinoa: This protein-packed whole grain is one of the few plant proteins that supplies all nine essential amino acids. It’s high in fibre and gluten-free, making it easy to digest.
Chickpeas: Think beyond hummus. These tasty peas contain 10 grams of fibre and 11 grams of protein into each cup. Add to salads, stews and sautés, or sprinkle lightly with salt and roast at 150°C for about 90 minutes for a crunchy pre-workout snack.
Salmon: This tasty, quick-cooking fish is packed with 27 grams protein per 114 grams cooked fillet and 1.32 g omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats may also increase joint mobility and can help increase blood flow during exercise.
Nuts and Nut Butters: Calorie-dense but smartly packaged, nuts have it all, heart-healthy fats, fibre and protein. Add a handful to protein-packed Greek yogurt, fiber-filled salads or just enjoy 28g of them naked before a workout. A little goes a long way with nuts, but they also require no preparation, no refrigeration and are perfectly portable.
Eggs: Whites take too much credit for muscle building. It’s true that very few calories and more than half of the protein are found in the whites (57% of the entire egg), but yolks are also important. The yolk contains essential fatty acids, folate, iron, calcium and fat-soluble vitamins, all for only about 55 calories. When we eat only the whites, we’re missing out on a lot of nutritional benefits, and flavour.
Greek Yogurt: Not only does Greek yogurt contain 19 grams protein per cup (6 grams more than regular yogurt), but it also comes packaged with 20% of our daily calcium needs. It’s full of probiotics, those healthy bacteria that are good for the gut, helping to increase nutrient absorption. We can add 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt to our morning smoothie instead of protein powder or 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and 1/2 portion of protein powder combination.
Focus On A Healthy Diet To Build Up Muscles And Support Overall Health, Feel Good, Strong, Enjoy Great Runs, and Strength Training Workouts!