Building lean muscle

May 3, 2017
If you ve been bodybuilding

If you're a professional sports athlete, dialing in your nutrition is as easy as consulting with your team trainer and having your personal chef prepare all your meals. Each plate arrives in front of you with precise macronutrient ratios dialed in, and it tastes far better than if you were to try to make it yourself. Nutrition solved.

Life for the rest of us isn't quite so easy. We have limited resources, and we're forced to stay on top of our individual nutrition needs. We prepare our foods ourselves, act as our own bodyguard when late-night cravings strike, and fight the fast-food advertising that succeeds in reaching our eyes.

So what do we do? We become our own ad hoc nutritionists. We start counting calories and tracking everything we eat in confusing apps and food journals. But deep down, we don't really believe it should be that complicated. So we end up getting discouraged and quitting before we get where we wanted to go.

If you've ever started a bulking "diet" with visions of looking like Zeus but ended up more like Buddha, the problem wasn't your math—it was your choices! Sure, if you've got lofty goals like competition, then counting may be unavoidable. But if your goal is simply to add lean size, then these eight rules are all you need. Take them to heart and start growing!

Rule 1:

What Does Roughly 40 Grams Of Protein Look Like?

You know protein is essential to building and repairing muscle, but do you know how much 40 grams looks like? Is it a 4 oz. chicken breast? Six? Ten? If you don't know, it's time to start getting more precise about how big of portions you consume at every meal.

That doesn't just go for chicken, either. You need to learn how to effectively eyeball a mass-building serving size of about 40 grams of protein with steak, fish, turkey, dairy, eggs, and even protein powder.

If you can get that amount of protein at each of your 5-6 meals each day, the most important growth nutrient will be accounted for.

Opt for fowl without skin and leaner cuts of steak like loin and round cuts when choosing lean protein sources. When eating out, avoid any proteins that come battered and fried.

Grilled and broiled meats are always better options. Making the right choices helps save you a boatload of extra calories with far less chance that it'll hang from your midsection.

Rule 2:

Sugar-sweetened teas and coffees, flavored drinks, smoothies, juices, and sodas account for a whopping 37 percent of all calories Americans consume, and these fast-digesting carbs can send your blood sugar—and insulin levels—skyrocketing. With so much sweetness around us, it's no wonder that the number of overweight people in the world recently surpassed the undernourished for the first time in human history.

Luckily, you only have to watch your waistline. The take-home here is to be principled about which carbs you allow into your body. Choose slow-digesting complex carbs such as brown rice, yams, and quinoa, as well as starchy carbs including whole-grain breads and pasta. You'll have sustained energy throughout the day, and the lower insulin response means you'll be less likely to store any excess calories as body fat.

When it comes to beverages, water can keep you refreshed without all the extra sugar. Eat and drink like a grown-up rather than a child for a while and you may actually look like the man or woman you always wanted to be.

Rule 3:

Dietary fats often get a bad rap when you're trying to eat clean, but they're far too important to eliminate entirely. Not only do they contain a number of key vitamins and help us absorb a number of others, but they're also essential in the production of key muscle-building hormones like testosterone.


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