How To Build Muscle

As the parent of a teenage boy I am only too familiar with the question “how can I build more muscle?” We all know that teenage years are a period of growth and for many children that can mean growing up and not out, whilst others struggle to convert the calories they eat to muscle. Here are my tips for increasing muscle.

1. Make sure you’re eating enough protein.

Protein is the building block of muscle tissue and contains both essential and nonessential amino acids. Nonessential amino acids are produced by our bodies naturally, but essential amino acids need to be obtained via your diet. There is one amino acid called leucine, which is especially crucial for muscle repair and growth. Immediately following a workout, it’s ideal to eat sources of leucine, which come from yogurt, nuts, beans/pulses, fish and meat. So perhaps try to eat a peanut butter sandwich, a tuna sandwich, granola and yogurt or some hummus and carrots sticks soon after training. Ideally 20-40 mins after training.

2. Fuel your workouts with carbohydrates.

Whilst you’re going to need protein to help your muscle, carbohydrates also play a key role in muscle building and maintaining endurance during workouts. That’s because muscle uses glycogen, which is glucose, i.e. a carbohydrate, stored in the liver as fuel for your workouts. A steady stream of carbohydrates in your diet, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans, rice, veg and fruits can help power you through workouts.

3. Increase your calories.

If your weight is currently stable, a good place to start is to increase your daily calorie intake. Most people who struggle to gain weight misunderstand the most basic principle – ‘the body will only grow if you provide it with surplus of high-quality calories each day’. In other words, you need to consume more calories than you burn each day. Start with an increase of about 20% on your current caloric intake. These calories should come from a range of whole, nutritious foods, like meat, fish, whole grains, fruit and veg.

4. Nutrient timing.

Try to make sure you’re eating some protein every 3 to 4 hours. It keeps a steady supply of amino acids in your bloodstream helping to reduce the amount of muscle protein breakdown that may occur. If you find it easier to use a protein shake to help achieve this, that’s fine too. If you’re using a protein shake that is sweetened then try consuming this during and after your workout where the combination of carbohydrates and protein will have the greatest effect. If not then try to make sure that you eat a recovery snack within 20 to 40 minutes of the strength training. This should be a combination of protein and carbohydrates. See suggestions in point 1 above.

These four areas of focus are designed to give you the best outcome when it comes to building more muscle.

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