Basic Guide to Lean Muscle Pride

Guide to Lean Muscle PrideWith such a wide variety of products and “gurus” offering THE best way to get in shape, it’s easy to get confused, aggravated or completely demotivated.  It really doesn’t have to be that complicated when it comes to building lean muscle, though.

Here are 6 easy-to-follow guidelines to steer you in the right direction:

1) Eat five to six small meals per day and be sure to have at least 20 grams of protein at each. This works like a trickle charger and keeps a nice, constant flow of muscle-building nutrients available at all times. Whole foods are almost always best, but if time is short and you want to use a protein powder or meal replacement powder to make life a little easier and to ensure you’re getting your protein needs met for building lean muscle, try to find a good casein-and-whey supplement for fast and slow protein delivery between solid meals, or a high-quality whey protein if trying to add a bit of protein to meals.  

2) Try to get a healthy, protein-based meal (or meal replacement if necessary) every 3 hours or so during the day. This may sound like a repeat of number 1 above, but it’s a reminder that you need to spread out your protein intake throughout the day.  Otherwise, it’s possible that your body might shift into starvation mode and start using your hard-earned muscle tissue for energy .  That won’t help you reach your goals. 

3) Don’t skip breakfast!  Seven or eight hours of fasting can make your muscles very receptive to lean muscle-building nutrients , so make sure to get at least 15-20 grams of quality protein when you wake up in the morning.  

4) Don’t eat large meals. Doing so can shoot you insulin levels through the roof and promotes fat storage.  Small-to-medium and easy-to-digest meals wit a good protein source are always best.  The only time you really want an insulin surge is immediately after a workout (see number 6). 

5) Eat fruits and vegetables.  Not only do they provide you with important nutrients to make lean muscle-building and fat burning easier, as well as adding much-needed fiber to make “other things” easier, they also balance the acidity of protein. Contrary to many super-low-carb diet promoters, letting your carbs get too low won’t help build muscle.  While lower than “average” carb intake can sometimes help with fat loss, extreme low-carb levels aren’t for anyone looking to hold onto or build muscle.

6) Have fast-release carbs and fast-release protein immediately after you work out. This is very beneficial for refueling the muscles at a time when they crave carbs and protein the most. The half-hour or so after a workout is often referred to as the anabolic window. For your muscles, it’s the most important meal of the day.  Fast carbs quickly turn to glycogen and replenish your depleted muscles.  Fast carbs will also create an insulin surge as mentioned above, which promotes glycogen storage and the muscle building process by aiding the transport of carbs and protein into the muscles.

Remember, after training you want to get fast protein to repair the muscle damage from exercise and enough glycogen from the fast carbs to refill energy stores and spike insulin to speed up the process of building lean muscle.

These basic guidelines are from the X-treme Lean e-book.