Alright, so not everyone has the goal of putting on muscle mass. But a question we get all the time is, “What’s the best way to put on muscle?” Despite your goals though, muscle mass is not a bad thing for anyone. In fact it’s one major measure associated with lifespan (1,2).
We’ve touched on how to build muscle before. But there’s also something you really need to focus on if your primary goal is to build muscle mass in addition to the types of workouts and types of foods you're eating: the quantity and timing of your food. This is one of those things that people would rather not pay attention to, but it will make the world of difference.
If you’ve been following us for some time, you may remember that you are most insulin sensitive right after your high intensity strength workout. What this means is that you’ve just dumped a bunch of that stored energy in your muscles out in order to move heavy weights. And your body wants to replace it.
This is the best time to get in your whole-food carbohydrates because your body is primed to replenish its fuel and start the building process. Time your sweet potatoes and your rice right after your workout, and eat as many of them as you want if you’re trying to put on muscle mass. In fact, eat a lot. A lot a lot. 😁
In my experience, this is the hardest part for people to understand when they just can’t seem to put on muscle. Yes, protein is very important. But what is likely even more important is getting your body the raw ingredients it needs in order to manufacture muscle. One of the primary required ingredients is absolutely essential amino acids. Another necessary component is shear number of calories.
How many calories? How much muscle do you want to gain? If your goal is to put on a lot of muscle, the plain, simple truth is you need to eat a lot of the right types of calories at the right times. Aiming for about the number of grams in protein as your goal body weight is probably a good place to start if you can keep your healthy fats and veggies in the right proportion. Yes, if you do the math, this turns out to be a lot of food. Again, a lot a lot. 😁 😁
Now, not everyone is trying to put on crazy amounts of muscle mass. In fact, most of you probably don’t care to and would rather just get a cut looking body for the beach and meanwhile feel healthy in. These concepts of meal timing still apply to you, you just don’t need to eat as much food post-workout.
Time your big meals with lots of good whole-food carbohydrates right after your workout. Otherwise, stick to higher amounts of healthy fats, proteins, and veggies throughout the day. You can’t go wrong.