Building muscle and gaining quality weight is more than just hitting the gym and eating whatever you crave. If you want to get muscular and avoid the fat, what you eat is as important as how you workout.
1. Meat. Protein is the building block of muscle and there aren’t too many foods that beat the quality of protein found in meat. Meat contains protein that is complete (a complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids) which allows your body to use it to repair and rebuild damaged muscle tissue after a workout. Unfortunately, meat is also sometimes high in saturated (bad) fat so if you’re a big meat eater, concentrate on eating lean meats such as chicken, fish, and some cuts of beef.
2. Eggs. The protein found in eggs is unmatched in its bioavailability (ability of the body to absorb the protein). Eggs can be a high protein, low calorie snack that can increase your protein intake throughout the day. Like meat, eggs have the potential to be high in saturated fat so watch your intake if you or your family has a history of high cholesterol.
3. Complex Carbs. While protein is important in building muscle, getting stronger can’t be done without carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. If you want to build muscle, you have to workout hard and to workout hard, you need to have an adequate amount of energy. Complex carbs are digested slowly which will give your body a steady stream of energy throughout the day and help you workout at a sufficient intensity level. Complex carbs will also help your body rebuild and repair damaged muscle tissue after a workout. Sources of complex carbs include 100% whole wheat bread/pasta, brown rice, beans, oatmeal, legumes and nuts.
4. Gatorade/Powerade. If you’re working out longer than an hour, consider using a pre/during workout drink such as Gatorade or Powerade. They both contain enough energy in a form that is quickly digested and absorbed to give your body the fuel it needs to workout. Consuming a simple carb before and during a workout can help keep your body out of a catabolic state, preventing muscle breakdown. To save money, buy sports drinks in their powder form and mix them yourself.
5. Chocolate Milk. A good post workout meal will give your body easily digestible carbs and protein. The protein acts to begin the rebuilding and repairing process while the carbohydrates act to replenish energy stores that were used during a workout. It’s important to have carbs in addition to protein because without carbs, the body will convert protein you eat into sugar to replenish energy stores instead of repairing damaged muscle tissue. The body’s main priority after a workout is to replenish those energy levels.