If you read part 1 of the muscle-building nutrition series, you now know that one of the most important things about nutrition during a building period is to eat in a caloric surplus.
This extra amount of energy will allow the body to optimally recover the musculature, thus improving gains.
Now, besides caloric value, however, food also gives the body essential nutrients.
In this second article of the muscle-building nutrition series, we will go over protein & fats and tell you more about why they’re important, how much, and what sources you should use.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
What Are Essential Macronutrients?
When the topic at hand is sports nutrition, the word “essential” can only mean one thing.
Essential macronutrients are macronutrients that the body NEEDS but can’t produce on its own.
If there is a lack of those essential macronutrients, it is likely that you would experience suboptimal recovery, tiredness, quick exhaustion, and in severe, chronic depletions, you may experience dysfunctions of certain bodily systems.
And well, while this sounds bad, we live in a world where all the food you want is right at your fingertips, meaning that you can easily avoid those depletions.
All you have to do is to make the right food choices!
Protein - How Much & What Food Sources?
The name of the word “Protein” is derived from the Greek word “Protos”, which means “First/Of prime importance”.
That is to say that protein is essential and there’s no wonder about that - You ARE protein…
Especially your muscles, they are made up of protein and they NEED protein to recover and grow.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which the body uses for all recovery and physiological maintenance.
There are 20 amino acids in total and 9 of those are essential (remember what essential means?)
The optimal daily protein intake forms at 0.8-1g of protein per lb. of body weight.
Athletes will require a bit more based on their training frequency, volume and intensity, and of course bodyweight and sport.
If you are an omnivore, it is recommended to derive most of your protein from quality animal products, as animal products contain all essential amino acids.
Oppositely, if you are plant-based, try mixing different types of grains and legumes, as plant products lack certain amino acids.
Fat - How Much & What Food Sources?
After protein, you have dietary fats, which are the second essential macronutrient in your daily nutrition.
The dietary fats in your nutrition plan will do the following:
Help vitamin/nutrient absorption
Protection of vital organs
Body temperature regulation
Even more importantly, dietary fat will ensure that your hormonal system functions properly.
Studies have shown that males who under-consume dietary fat, have LOWER testosterone levels, as opposed to males who get at least 20% of their daily energy from fats.
And guess what - Your testosterone levels massively impact muscle growth, recovery and mood.
The optimal daily fat intake forms at 0.35-0.45g per lb. of body weight.
Generally, most animal products contain sufficient amounts of fat, but if you need to add more fat sources, go for the following:
By taking care of all the essential macronutrients in your daily nutrition plan, you will ensure that the body has everything needed to recover and grow bigger and stronger.
Protein and fats are the two ESSENTIAL nutrients we get from food, which as you learned, regulate the majority of bodily processes.
And then, we have carbohydrates, which are not really essential but can be a powerful thing to use during a muscle-building period.
In the next part of this article series, we’ll explain to you EXACTLY why your carb intake is important for the goal of building muscle.