Gaining weight and gaining lean muscle are two entirely different things. While increasing the amount you eat will almost certainly lead to you putting on weight, it will not automatically ensure that you gain lean, aesthetically pleasing muscle mass.
In order to effectively build muscle, you need to combine the right physical exercise with the right fuel for that physical exercise. It is, therefore, vitally important to pay attention to the nutrients you put into your body and to understand the role that carbohydrates play in the muscle building process.
Physical Activity and the Role of Carbohydrates
In order to build the lean muscle you desire, you need to engage in resistance training which specifically targets the major muscle groups in the body. Examples of these types of exercises include barbell curls, bench presses and squats. It is best to avoid working the same muscle groups in consecutive days and working out three to four times a week is ideal.
In order to perform efficiently, you also need to provide your body with the right kind of energy. Although proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals all combine to provide different things, carbohydrates in particular play a large role in muscle building.
Your body uses carbohydrates to create glucose, which is used for instant energy, or to create glycogen, which is stored within the muscles and used at a later stage.
When you take up resistance training in order to build muscle, carbohydrates will act as the main source of fuel and this is why they are absolutely vital.
Understanding Complex Carbs and Simple Carbs
Having established the important function that carbohydrates play, it is also crucial to realize that not all carbohydrates are beneficial if you want to develop lean muscle mass. Carbohydrates are divided into two types and, essentially, the quality of your muscular gains are likely to be linked to the quality of food you put into your body.
Simple carbohydrates offer very little nutritional value and contain empty calories. These carbs, which are found in foods like cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks and pastry, should be avoided as much as possible if you are looking to put on good quality muscle mass.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates found in natural foods are the best source of fuel for your workouts, because they contain far more nutritional value and act as a better energy source. This is due to the fact that they take longer for the body to break down, because of their more complex structure.
Complex carbs can be found in foods like brown rice, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and oats and these foods will prove invaluable to you.
The Importance of a Post-Workout Shake
As well as ingesting sufficient fuel ahead of your workout, it is also important to re-fuel after you have completed it. During a workout, your muscles enter into a catabolic state and in order for them to enter into an anabolic state, you must supply them with the correct nutrition. This is where a post-workout shake can be extremely beneficial.
Ideally, you want to find a shake which contains fast-digesting carbohydrates and proteins, in order to supply nutrients to your muscles quickly, which will promote healthy growth. A few suitable suggestions for this purpose include whey and grape juice or whey and fresh berries.
Slow, Steady Growth
When trying to increase muscle mass and build lean muscle, it is important to be patient as the process can take time. It is also important to understand that, because your hormones are responsible for your body’s capacity to build muscle, you cannot possible achieve more growth than your hormone levels will allow.
As a guide, even if you find that you are able to make significant growth on a weekly basis, it is best to try and aim to put on around two pounds per week. This will enable you to grow at a steady rate and avoid over working the body, which can have several negative repercussions.
In order to limit weight gain, you simply need to adjust the amount of food you consume. By taking in less food, you can reduce the rate of weight gain, which will help prevent unwanted fat gain.
Similarly, if you find that you are struggling to put on two pounds of muscle per week, you can increase the amount of food you take in. Slow and steady growth, while consuming plenty of complex carbohydrates is the best way to ensure that you achieve lean, healthy, desirable muscle growth.
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