How Long Does It Take For Muscles To Grow
Unfortunately, muscle growth isnt an overnight process. It can be frustrating to spend hours both in the gym, and in the kitchen, only to be discouraged after a few weeks of no noticeable progress. Rest assured, though, that if youre eating the right foods and amping up your strength training, visible results should appear within eight weeks, depending on your fitness level. Stick with it, and try to be patient.
Meal Plan For Muscle Gain: How Much Protein Do You Really Need
If you’re looking to gain muscle, you might find yourself asking, How much muscle can I gain in a month? and, How much protein do I need to do that? The short answer is that both of these numbers depend on a number of factors like weightlifting experience level and genetics. For example, a new lifter can expect to gain as much as 2-3 pounds in a month, an intermediate might gain 1-2 pounds in a month and an experienced lifter may be lucky to gain ½ a pound.
Assess where you are with weightlifting and strength training in order to set realistic goals around muscle gain. Understand that if you would like to gain 10 pounds of mostly muscle mass, it might take 6 months or more.
Best Protein Food Sources
Here are the best food sources to increase your protein intake and support muscle growth. It’s hard to achieve muscle hypertrophy when you’re not supplying enough protein to your muscles, so make sure you’re getting enough each day.
1. Whole Eggs:
The incredible, edible egg comes up first on our list for a myriad of reasons. That jingle isn’t just some marketing gimmick, as the benefits found in eggs are plentiful.
If you are trying to include some quality protein in your diet, you can’t get much better than eating eggs and more specifically, egg whites.
Egg whites are the purest form of protein you can find in nature, containing high levels of all the amino acids while being highly digestible. Depending on the size of egg you eat, each one provides somewhere between 5 to 8 grams of protein.
Amazingly, the protein in eggs may not be the biggest benefit for muscle growth. It could be argued that it’s actually the cholesterol found in the yolk. We know, we know – cholesterol has got a bad rap. But hear us out.
The most important male hormone responsible for protein synthesis, testosterone, is synthesized from cholesterol. When you consume the whole egg, you are supplying extra cholesterol for the increased synthesization of testosterone. Assuming you’re lifting properly, following progressive overload, and eating enough calories, this testosterone boost increases muscle protein synthesis, resulting in muscle mass.
2. Greek Yogurt:
3. Protein Powder:
4. Casein Protein Powder:
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Best Carbohydrates To Build Muscle
You have the proteins needed for building muscles after a tough workout. Now you just need some fuel to get you through your killer sessions. Combined with a great pre-workout supplement, you’ll constantly feel ready to hit the gym hard.
These are our favorite sources of carbs to add more calories to our diet. All of them will help you gain lean muscle mass by improving your performance in the gym. You need carbs if you want serious gains.
Quinoa is a carb source that’s quickly becoming a favorite alternative to cooked brown rice. It’s packed with antioxidants, fiber, and a list of vitamins and minerals.
We know there is a riff between brown rice and white rice, but both would work with building muscle. Any style of rice will deliver the carbs. It’s a staple of the vertical diet, a plan designed to support muscle growth.
The primary difference with white rice is that it’s been refined, and a lot of its nutrients have been stripped. More nutrients are better, but this may or may not be an issue depending on what other foods you’re eating.
Regardless, rice is easy, clean, and cheap. Having a huge bag of rice in your house is always a good idea for lifters.
3. Sweet Potato:
A flavorful source of good carbs, sweet potatoes are nature’s candy and an awesome treat for athletes.
If you’re feeling crazy, add a bit of brown sugar and butter for a healthy and delicious dessert.
Tip: Look up “Overnight Oats”.
Blueberry Greek Yogurt Pancakes
A deliciously healthy alternative for breakfast when you wake up and your sweet tooth is ready to go. To make the pancakes mix eggs, whole wheat flour, baking powder and cinnamon and add in blueberries. The best part? Top with Greek yoghurt for a creamy topping that is high in protein and low in all the bad stuff.
Carbohydrate: ModerateContains: Calcium, Cobalamin
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How Many Grams Of Protein Per Day For Muscle Growth
So, how much protein per day to build muscle? That number can vary depending on who you ask, but we believe an effective muscle-building diet requires eating 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
This should be eaten in 4 to 6 smaller meals every 3 to 4 hours apart. Further, each meal should consist of at least 20 grams of protein to maximally stimulate muscle growth.
When you are bulking, you should be in a calorie surplus. Because you have these extra calories to fuel your muscles, your protein intake can be on the lower end of the range we provided. For meal inspiration and must-buy bulking grocery items, be sure to check out our 7 day meal plan for muscle gain.
On the contrary, when comparing cutting vs. bulking, your protein should be on the higher end for cutting. As you are in a caloric deficit, your body will look for extra calories. To mitigate the possibility of muscle wasting, extra protein makes maintaining muscle mass easier.
Vital Performance Protein Powder
Vital Performance Protein Powder is a great, budget-friendly choice for those looking to bulk up on lactose-free milk protein isolate.
Its an ideal protein powder for both post-workout muscle recovery and anytime nutrition to boost muscle gains. You can purchase this protein powder in one of four flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and coffee.
Features of Vital Performance Protein Powder:
This protein powder contains bovine collagen peptides derived from pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine hide. It has the same casein: whey ratio that milk has .
Furthermore, Vital Performance Protein Powder is rich in amino acids, which help support protein digestion and synthesis in muscles.
Benefits of Vital Performance Protein Powder:
One huge benefit of this protein powder is the amino acid content, which facilitates better muscle gains. The bovine collagen content goes beyond the powers of regular protein powders by providing healthy bone, joint, and tendon support.
Additionally, you can boost your leucine content by taking extra daily protein powder.
- More protein per serving compared to other protein powders
- Not allergen-free
- Higher sugar content compared to other protein powders
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Body Fortress Whey Protein
The Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder is one of the picks on our list with the highest protein content. It comes in several flavors, including Cookies N Cream, Banana Cream, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Vanilla, and Strawberry.
For the sake of our review, well look specifically at the popular Cookies N Cream flavor.
This mass-building supplement combines premium whey protein, amino acids, creatine, and natural BCAAs from protein. You can take it immediately post-workout or as needed daily to supplement protein needs.
Features of Body Fortress Whey Protein:
This protein powder is made for individuals already taking part in an intense daily exercise program. Its also designed to be used in conjunction with a balanced diet and caloric intake. The 100% whey protein mixture is enhanced by the creatine and amino acid content. It works to boost muscle recovery and build lean muscle mass.
Benefits of Body Fortress Whey Protein:
Body Fortress whey protein is packed with high-quality whey protein to get maximum muscle gains. Its Americas #1 Muscle and Strength Development Powder Brand, offering delicious protein supplements.
- Added potassium and calcium nutrients
- Rich in protein and other nutrients
- Uses only naturally occurring L-Tryptophan
- Targets both recovery and strength building
- Low in sugar and fat content
- Has added sugars and added ingredients
Buffalo Chicken Meal Prep
Not afraid of the heat? Then youll love this Buffalo Chicken Meal Prep.
Its full of flavor. Youre getting the heat from the Franks Buffalo sauce and sweetness from the honey.
The chicken broth adds savory, and the cumin and chili powder add some warmth. Your muscles and tastebuds will thank you.
To get the chicken extra-juicy, youll be cooking your chicken in a slow cooker. So make sure you have one handy.
To round out this meal, youll be adding brown rice and cauliflower.
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What Are Amino Acids
Protein refers to a biomolecule composed of a long chain of 50+ amino acids. A chain of less than 50 amino acids is referred to as a peptide. So, in essence, the word “protein” is just nomenclature for classification as amino acids are the real building blocks.
There are a total of 20 different proteinogenic amino acids that are broken down into 3 groups:
- Non-essential amino acids
- Conditionally essential amino acids
- Essential amino acids
Of these, your nine essential amino acids are the most important as you must consume them in your diet. Further, these contain the essential amino acid leucine, which is one of three branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs. If you want to learn more about BCAAs vs. EAAs, we’ve got a great article that goes into far more detail!
In addition to leucine, your BCAAs include three amino acids that drive muscle growth. Generally speaking, animal proteins are the ideal source for those who want to build lean muscle. Every animal protein has all of the amino acids in enough quantity to produce muscle mass. This is called a complete protein.
On the contrary, when comparing plant proteins vs. whey proteins, many plant-based options are known as incomplete proteins. These are proteins that are lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids. Soy protein is one of the plant sources that provide a complete protein.
Body Fortress Energy Protein
This Body Fortress Super Advanced Energy protein powder goes a step beyond the regular Body Fortress whey protein powder.
This mocha cappuccino flavored energy protein targets lean muscle mass, as well as energy boosts and mental focus.
Features of Body Fortress Energy Protein
This muscle-building and energy-boosting protein powder supplement features 100% whey protein and real coffee as the main ingredients. Its a powder that easily mixes or blends into your favorite beverage.
Benefits of Body Fortress Energy Protein
One benefit of this protein powder is that its advantageous beyond the scope of your workouts. The energy-boosting properties may even help you eliminate the need for a morning cup of coffee.
Furthermore, you get 24-hour protein coverage to supplement your diet. Another perk is that its high in BCAAs that are essential to rapid protein absorption to quickly build lean muscles.
- Replaces your daily caffeine content in a healthier format
- One serving doesnt contain as much protein compared to other protein powders
- Slightly higher in calories compared to other protein powders
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Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The monounsaturated fats in olive oil stimulate protein production for muscle growth and prevent tissue breakdown, but the Mediterranean favourite also has some hidden muscle benefits. It increases insulin sensitivity in your muscles, allowing them to make optimal use of glucose, amino acids and nutrients. Olive oil also contains oleuropein a phenolic compound that causes white fat cells to act like brown fat cells, according to researchers at Kobe Women’s University in Japan.
Meal Frequency And Timing
As part of your muscle gain program, eat at least 3 meals per day including a snack between each meal. When it comes to timing your meals, many studies show that it doesnt matter if you have your protein-packed meal before or after a workout. Whats important is that you eat during your metabolic window 30-45 minutes after a workout to help your muscles recover and rebuild. Also, remember to maintain the correct daily macronutrient intake and get your nutrients from high-quality food sources.
If you want to maximize your protein synthesis and muscle gain, new research has uncovered a major breakthrough and indicates that if you have a generous serving of protein before you go to bed, that you will see significant increases in strength and muscular hypertrophy. Keep in mind that every body is different so your personal protein needs may differ. Try eating a protein-packed meal for dinner or easily digestible snack to see big gains.
Start your transformation today
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Don’t Forget About Water
For whatever reason, water is not talked about nearly enough when discussing the best foods for healthy muscles. We are aware it’s not technically “food,” but as it’s essential for life, we made an exception and put it on our list.
Being that our muscles are up to 79% water, you’d be pretty foolish to not emphasize hydration. Walking around dehydrated will not only decrease your performance in the gym, but your muscles will just not function properly.
In addition, a hydrated muscle is quite literally more anabolic than a dehydrated muscle. Multiple studies have found that proper hydration can decrease cortisol levels, increase anabolic activity, and increase the release of human growth hormone,.
This means the guys walking around with a gallon of water are like a gardener watering their plants to grow. Always stay hydrated, especially before, during, and after a workout.
Baked Herb Chicken Breasts With Couscous
Youre probably filling up on chicken breasts. But lets face it: chicken breasts can be so bland.
Theres nothing bland about these ones. Thats because youre coating your chicken breast with herbs and spices.
These include dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper. So your chicken breasts are super tasty.
Youre serving them up with vegetable-broth-infused couscous, zucchini, and bell peppers. So you have a medley of Mediterranean flavors. Yum!
Whats more, this meal is packed with a whopping 61 grams of protein. So its definitely bodybuilder approved.
Are you more of a chicken leg-lover? Then youll love these One-Pan Chicken Legs.
Theyre bursting with warmth from the cinnamon, coriander, and turmeric. And theres a bit of spiciness from the black peppers and red pepper flakes.
Youre also cooking your chicken with chickpeas, cranberries, onions, and quinoa. So, its a balanced one-pan dish.
Besides adding texture, quinoa is also a great source of plant-based protein. In fact, it is one of the few plant-based proteins that are complete.
So it contains all the amino acids that your muscles need.
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Foods To Avoid For Muscle Growth
Not all foods support muscle building. If youre focused on building muscle, foods to limit include:
- Alcohol: Consuming alcohol can negatively impact your ability to build muscle, as it interferes with the protein synthesis process. Whats more, according to Karmali, alcohol digestion forces the body to use antioxidantswhich are compounds that protect the cells against harmful free radicals. This reduces the amount of antioxidants available to support optimal cell function in the body, which can affect your muscle building efficiency, she says.
- Refined sugars: Sugary foods such as cake, ice cream and donuts have lots of calories but very few nutrients. Although it is true that a calorie is a calorie in terms of a math equation, not all calories are of the same quality, says Karmali. Instead of sugary foods, Karmali recommends sticking to complex carbs like bananas and apples, as they contain fiber and other nutrients that promote digestion and exercise performance.
- Deep-fried or breaded foods: Karmali recommends avoiding foods such as french fries, onion rings and chicken fingers, as they promote inflammation and digestion issues, which can ultimately affect exercise performance.
How Food Helps Build Muscle
Although protein is essential for muscle building, it’s not the only important food component in the process. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a good muscle-building diet must also include plenty of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet that features all these will provide the necessary ingredients to help your muscles repair and rebuild after a workout.
Overall, the NASM recommends that most people consume at least 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein and 1.8 to 3.2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day. Total calorie intake also plays a role in muscle building, as it’s difficult to build muscle if you’re burning more calories than you consume.
Diet alone isn’t enough to stimulate muscle growth, though. Exercise especially resistance training such as lifting weights is necessary to start the process. When you tear the fibers in your muscles, that stimulates cellular growth and repair. That’s when your body can use the food you’ve eaten to rebuild and strengthen muscle tissue. Other factors also influence how effective and efficient this process is, from when you eat your food and how much rest you give your muscles between workouts to your hormonal and genetic makeup.
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What About Muscle Recovery
You might suffer from aching muscles after working out periodically, especially if you try a new sport or up the intensity or length of an exercise your body is accustomed to. Injuries can result from soreness, and injuries themselves can have major bodily repercussions as well as serve as a deterrent to further training.
Your muscles grow naturally between training sessions, not while you are exercising. When muscles truly rebuild themselves after the stress that exercising causes them, they help you become faster and stronger. On the other hand, your muscles will become more damaged with each workout if you dont give them adequate time to repair. An overuse or repetitive stress injury may result from this.