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When it’s comes to building strength and muscle mass, it’s not just about the weights you’re putting on the bar – proper nutrition is 75% or more of the whole process. But even those who realize the importance of nutrition can get it wrong by overcomplicating things. You try this diet and that diet because someone recommended it but are you really examining the diet on its merits? Is it meeting your needs in terms of recovery and overall goals? Bring it back to basics by focusing on the importance of the three macronutrients and a little bit of strategic supplementation.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are 20 of them. For you to gain and maintain strength and size, protein in the most important macronutrient. To make sure you’re getting enough, don’t rely on your protein powder alone. Be sure to incorporate good sources of protein, beef, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy.
Try to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
People trying to get lean typically drop carbs or cut them out completely. But your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is the fuel that gives you the energy during your workout. So unless you’re planning on improving your physique through a series of subpar workouts, prolonged reduction of carbs is not a great idea. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed. Examples of good carbs for lifters include whole grains, sweet potatoes and whole wheat pasta.
Aim for 2 grams of quality carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight per day.
Carbs are misunderstood and their consumption is frequently misapplied. Fats are similarly demonized in the fitness world because they are so calorically dense (9 calories per gram). But fats are great source of energy in the body. Omega-3 fats, in particular, keep the heart healthy, aid in joint recovery and can also aid fat loss. Great sources of healthy fats include salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies. Monounsaturated fats, found in things like nuts, olive oil and avocados, are also great for active individuals and offer similar physique-friendly benefits.
Try to consume 0.4 grams of healthy fat per pound of bodyweight per day.
Supplements are very important to nearly any training goal you might have and the products out there vary greatly. There are a few that are fairly universal, however. Protein to support muscle repair and growth, glutamine for immune support and recovery and BCAA for energy and endurance. You can add from there with pre-workout supplements or slower-digesting proteins for overnight muscle repair but if you have the first few, you should be good to go.
Remember, your hard work in the gym is important but what you put into your body to before and after workouts will determine how much difference those workouts make. So dump your unproven fad diet and uncomplicated your relationship with food. Get bigger and leaner faster by breaking things down to these basics and you will see improvements, without question.
Moji Oluwa is a personal trainer, strength expert and posing choreographer in Los Angeles with 27 years experience in sports and training. He was captain of the Nigerian Olympic weightlifting team in 1996 and is an award-winning natural bodybuilder with 28 first-place finishes and 17 overall titles to go along with his seven Best Poser awards. He travels to guest pose at natural bodybuilding shows and does motivational speeches for colleges, high schools, Boy Scouts, Boys Home and churches. For more training advice, visit his personal site at http://www.mojifitness.com.