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How to build muscle and size - Part 1

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How to Gain Weight and Build Muscle

We can all pile on the pounds, just stay in the fast food lane, but it’s a nutrient-dense healthy diet, that will promote lean muscle development and size. In truth, muscular growth and building that brick house frame, can be harder to achieve than losing weight, and very frustrating. But we are here to help - follow our top 8 tips and you'll pack on lean muscle and size far more easily and be well on your way to achieving that physique you want.

1. Eat enough calories

Most people who struggle to gain weight misunderstand the most basic principle - 'the body will only grow if you provide it with surplus of high-quality calories each day'. In other words, you need to consume more calories than you burn each day! Here's a handy meal plan to get you started

Start with a 20% increase in your current daily calorie intake. Try this pound builder - Aim to consume at least 20 calories per pound of bodyweight you weigh to gain muscle mass.

Many people eat two or three meals a day and the occasional protein shake (when they remember), and then wonder why they're not putting on weight. To increase muscle mass, you have to have excess energy (calories and protein) in your system - supplied by regular small meals throughout the day. Most people have no idea how many calories they need. Do you? You may find that eating until you're full is not enough, especially if you're eating the wrong sort of calories (i.e. all carbs and no protein!). Protein is the priority followed by carbs then fat, but all are important and play a part in building mass and size.

Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!

2. Eat sufficient high-quality protein

Consuming sufficient high-quality protein is essential for building muscle. Current recommendations are to consume a minimum of 0.8g of protein for each kg of body weight, however, this is really only applicable to the average sedentary individual. Current evidence shows that to support muscle development, protein intake is the key, therefore the recommended 0.8g per kg should be increased to 1.5-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight. For an 80 kg individual, that would equate to 120-160 grams of protein per day.

We need sufficient high-quality protein to build muscle, protein experts have stated that we need between 1.5-2.0g

However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.

Unfortunately, some people are intolerant to milk, due to the casein (one of the proteins in dairy) and have trouble digesting the sugar in milk, called lactose. If this is the case, stick to whey-only protein shakes. Maximuscle uses Biomax Whey True Protein - a unique blend of whey proteins including whey protein concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate, which are lower in lactose. Biomax Whey True Protein is used in a number of Maximuscle products (Promax and Cyclone).

3. Don't let the 'low fat' myth ruin your goals

In the contrary to popular belief, fat is in fact a very important nutrient in your diet, it is important for a number of essential processes in the body that help to make us healthy, for example some of the essential fats found in oily fish, e.g. EPA and DHA have been shown to have positive effects on our brain, vision and heart health.

Total dietary fat should supply approximately 25-30% of your daily calorie intake.

So, to keep the body’s normal processes functioning as they should, make sure you include some fat in your diet, especially the ‘good’ fats, otherwise known as polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. The trick is to eat the right fats and avoid the wrong ones (namely saturated and trans fats), found in cakes, biscuits and chocolate.

Healthy sources of fat include: cold water oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts (unsalted), avocado, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or flaxseed. Nuts (any sort, just make sure they are unsalted) are a great food to snack on if you're having trouble gaining weight, as they are not only high in calories, but they contain monounsaturated fats, a good source of protein, fibre and contain a number of essential minerals that are needed for health. For those not consuming any oily fish, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement, such as cod liver oil or flaxseeds.

4. Fuel your workouts with carbohydrate and creatine

Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.

Creatine is a proven ingredient for increasing strength, building muscle size and supporting training intensity.

Progain contains an easily digested source of carbohydrate, providing much needed carbohydrate to fuel your workout before or after. By adding creatine to your diet, in a shake, in food or in capsules, is proven to increase strength, build muscle size and support training intensity. At Maximuscle we have a number of products with added creatine, such as: Creatine Monohydrate, Creatamax Capsules, Cyclone (powder & bars), Progain Flapjack.

Read More in Building Muscle & Size - Part 2

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