What is it with Men and Muscles? Most men feel the need to have sculpted muscles and well defined abs in order to feel good about themselves. And who can blame them? However, if you want to build more muscle mass, taking care of your diet is just as important as getting the much needed strength training done!
Muscle growth is achieved by a blend of right number of calories, adequate amounts of proteins to build and repair muscles and strength training exercises. If you want to fuel your workout the right away, you will need a healthy combination of both proteins and carbohydrates. While the proteins will build and repair muscles, the carbohydrate will fuel energy that is necessary for exercising. You cannot expect to just eat large quantities of protein and expect your muscles to grow. To pull all that protein in to the muscles, you need to exercise. And to exercise, you need energy which comes only from healthy carbohydrate sources. There are several muscle friendly foods to choose from, and we will now discuss the list.
1. The Perfect Protein: Eggs
The fact is that proteins contained in eggs have the highest biological value, meaning they support your body’s protein needs in the best way. In a way, you can say that you need lesser proteins from eggs as compared to other protein sources like Chicken or Soya to get the same muscle building benefits.
The good news is that you can consume the whole egg without a worry. Yes, the yolk is high in cholesterol but then you need the Vitamin B12 that is present in the yolk for facilitating muscle contractions and fat breakdown. And since you work out religiously to build muscles, eating a few eggs will not increase your risk for heart problems.
Why are eggs so good? They are fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs, along with the protein. They are packed with folate, Vitamins B 6, B 12, D as well as E. They also contain Riboflavin, Zinc, Phosphorus and Iron.
2. The Perfect Medicine for Muscles: Almonds
The best source in the world for alpha-tocopherol Vitamin E, this vitamin found in Almonds absorbs in your body readily. It is especially important for men who want to build muscles because this is a potent antioxidant that will reverse the effects of free radicals on your muscles, as they can damage your muscles post heavy workouts. The lesser free radicals affect your muscles, the faster they rebuild and repair damage after an extensive session of strength training. You can easily eat 2 handfuls of almonds every day, without worrying about their caloric value.
Why are almonds so good for you? Well, apart from the fact that almonds are high in Vitamin E, they also have high fibre content and pack the goodness of omega 3 fatty acids. Also, a recent study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that almonds are great for your brain functioning too. They found out that those men who eat almonds and get the Vitamin E from natural sources, rather than just supplements, have a 67% lesser risk to diseases like Alzheimer’s.
3. The Perfect Growth Regulator: Oily Fish
Oily fish is not just good for your skin and hair; it is also great for your muscles. They pack a great dose of high quality protein along with superior omega 3 fatty acids. While the protein is great to build lean muscle, the omega 3 fatty acids decrease the breakage of protein post a strenuous workout, and enhance the muscle’s recovery process. Fish like salmon and tuna are wonderful choices, along with Sole and Pomfrets.
Why is oily fish so good for you? It not only helps decrease muscle breakdown, it also improves heart health and keeps Diabetes Type 2 at bay. An interesting study done by Louisiana State University revealed that people who added 1.8 grams of omega 3 fatty acids from oily fish in to their diet daily showed reduction in Insulin resistance properties by 70% within 12 weeks.
4. The Perfect Golden Ratio: Yogurt
Containing an ideal ratio of both carbohydrates and proteins, yogurt is great for muscle growth as well as muscle recovery. We recommend you buy the regular fruit variety instead of the sugar free variety. The fruit content offers extra carbohydrates that will boost insulin levels, which is the key to reducing protein breakdown post a workout.
Why is yogurt so healthy? It is one of the few foods found in nature that contains CLA or conjugated Linoleic Acid. This is a special kind of fat that works to reduce overall body fats. Also, yogurt is filled with the goodness of calcium, which will make your bones stronger and better able to cope with the rigorous exercises you put your body through every day.
5. The Perfect Creatine: Lean Red Meat
Most people will tell you that white meal is the best source of proteins. But when it comes to men who want to build more muscle, there is nothing better than lean cuts of red meat. This is because red meat doesn’t just offer proteins; it also offers the two most crucial nutrients that are the key to building muscles – Zinc and Iron. But that is not all; red meat is the number one natural food source for Creatine. For assured muscle growth, look for lean cuts of red meat. The other portions of meat have a lot of fat content in them, which is not good since these are high in HDL.
Why is lean red meat so good for you? Apart from the fact that it has Creatine, it also packs a good dose of Selenium. In fact, a research done at Stanford University, USA found out that those men who have low levels of Selenium in their blood increase their chances of developing prostate cancer up to 5 times.
6. The Perfect Liquid Energy: Olive Oil
The monounsaturated fats, found in healthy oils like Olive oil, act as an effective anti catabolic Nutrient. Put in to simpler words, it prevents the breakdown of muscles because it reduces levels of tumour necrosis factor- a in the body. This is a nasty cellular protein that causes weakness and has been linked to muscle wasting. It helps to use extra virgin olive oil, because it is also packed with Vitamin E that further helps to fight the effects of free radicals on muscle breakdown.
Why is olive oil so good for you? Olive oil reduces risk to heart diseases, colon cancer, prevents premature aging and even reduces the risk to osteoporosis and diabetes. So ditch the regular refined oil and adopt better muscle health and overall health with olive oil.
7. The Perfect Muscle Drink: Water
Our muscles are made up of 80% water, and this is why to stay on top of your game you need to stay well hydrated. If your body loses even 1% water content, it can adversely affect muscle recovery post exercises. This is why experts recommend that you must drink water post exercise, to make up for the loss of water content in your muscles.
In fact in 1997 a popular German Study revealed that protein synthesis in our body works faster when the muscle cells are hydrated, as compared to when the cells are parched. To understand this more easily, think that the more hydrated your muscle cells are, the better will they use protein sources available to build up more muscle.
Why is water so good for you? It keeps you hydrated from within, flushes out all toxins from the body that are produced because of muscle synthesis. Water also regulates better digestion, ensuring that all the fibrous food you eat gets digested well and all the nutrients from the food you have eaten reach the blood stream with ease.
8. The Perfect Repetition Builder: Coffee
Believe it or not, coffee directly stimulates muscles and a recent study published in a popular American Journal called Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise proves that. The study reveals that men who drink 1-2 cups of coffee two to three hours before their workout increased their ability to sprint for longer by 9%. Fuel your body with caffeine and see how you can lift weights for longer!
Just like sprinting, lifting weights is an anaerobic exercise and doesn’t require oxygen. Hence coffee will help you get more reps of the exercise with ease. However, if you have a history of blood pressure or migraines, drinking too much coffee is not a good idea.
Why is coffee so good for you? Coffee stimulates not just muscles but brain cells too. It keeps you more active and researchers at Harvard School of Medicine also believe that coffee can reduce a man’s risk to Parkinson’s disease by a whopping 30%!
*This article was also submitted to HealthViva.com