Workout Nutrition: What and When You Should Eat to Build Muscle

Use this nutrition guide to get the best results from your workouts!

The combination of a diet rich in high-quality protein and a strength-training program is the oldest, the best, and the only non-pharmaceutical way to build muscles.
1. How Much protein you need to consume?

You need .73 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. For example, a guy who weighs 180 pounds needs 130 grams of protein every day.

2. How Much protein you need for each meal?

Most of us never consume the same amount of protein in every meal. For example, we will eat a low-protein, high-carb breakfast (a bowl of cereal with milk), a moderate-protein lunch (a turkey sandwich), and a high-protein dinner, with a large piece of meat or fish. But a 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that if we distribute protein evenly in each meal, more of the protein will turn into muscle tissue.

Protein synthesis is 25 percent higher in people who consume 30 grams of protein in each of the three daily meals when compared to those who consume almost the whole daily amount for dinner.

Every meal has the same importance and that is why we all need three protein-rich meals every day. Protein synthesis will peak about 16 hours post-workout, and will remain elevated for up to 48 hours. Protein breakdown will also be higher for 24 hours.

 3.  Pre- and Post-Workout consumption!

For consistent, long-term lifters, protein synthesis peaks earlier (about four hours after workout). So, if you want to get the best results,
you need to consume protein supplements before and after workout. The ideal scenario is to have a protein-rich meal two to three hours before training and another within an hour or two after you finish.

Also, it is important to know that protein synthesis slows down by about 15 to 30 percent while you’re sleeping.

4.  Best Protein Sources! 

Different types of food contain different combinations of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). For creating muscle, Leucine is the most important of the 20 amino acids. You need about 2 to 3 grams of leucine in order to get the maximum anabolic effect from a meal.

Any normal-size serving of meat or poultry contains at least 2 grams of leucine. Three eggs, two glasses of milk, a piece of fish, or a cup of yogurt will give you about 1.5 grams. A cup of cheese or a scoop of whey protein (25 grams) will give you almost 3 grams.

Among plant foods, with 2.3 grams, soy has the most leucine. Beans and lentils contain between 1.2 to 1.4 grams per cup.


5. Carbs and Fat!

People with desk jobs don’t need pre-workout carbs for energy because they have more than enough in reserve.

Unless you’re doing more than one exhausting workout a day, you have plenty of time to rebuild your energy supply. Your regular meals should work just fine.

Combining protein with carbs in a post-workout meal will result in a higher protein synthesis, according to Dietary Protein and Resistance Exercise.

As for fat, there isn’t a cause for concern either way.

When you’re eating and training with the goal of looking better, total calories are more important than the composition of those calories.

6. Other important notes!

-  Strength workouts elevate protein synthesis for up to 48 hours in new lifters or those returning after a layoff, and about 24 hours in those with more experience.

- It is a good idea to eat something soon after waking up because the protein synthesis slows down during sleep.

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