An important component in aiding women with muscle gain and therefore toning of the body is nutritional intake. In addition to performing the right type of exercise, there are certain foods that will aid females to increase their lean muscle mass to improve physique.
For women trying to increase lean muscle mass, completing strength based exercise with sufficient recovery alone is not enough. Women tend to think that eating less is better for creating a lean and toned physique, however, when muscle is what you are looking for, ensuring you are eating enough and regularly is the key.
Your food intake when building muscle is not about eating anything and everything. There are two important macronutrients (food types largely relied upon in the human diet) required to help you build muscle. A combination of protein and carbohydrates are what is needed to fuel the body to influence muscle to grow.
This article explains what these macronutrients are, what they do and what foods are best to eat that contain protein or carbohydrate. Read further to learn more!
- Women will have heard mean talking about all the protein they need to eat to gain muscle. In order to gain lean muscle and achieve that lean physique, us women need protein in our diets too. It doesn’t mean you need to go out and eat unreasonable amounts of protein-based foods. There is a suitable amount that is sufficient to induce muscular growth.
What is protein?
Protein is the building blocks that form your muscles. It contains substances called amino acids. Amino acids are what your muscle tissue is made from and what your body will use to create more muscle. So essentially, protein is what your muscles are made from!
- What does it do to the body? Protein aids in building and repairing your muscle during your rest and recovery periods between workouts. This is why appropriate rest between workouts is important! It is a very important factor in increasing and retaining lean muscle mass.
- How much do I need?The body only needs a certain amount of protein. Excess amounts will just be excreted when you go to the bathroom. As a general guideline you should incorporate 1.0 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight into your daily intake. Predominantly, you need to ensure most of your protein intake is from lean sources.
- Get some protein in each meal of the day but also consume some protein within 30 minutes of completing your workout. This is a window of opportunity for protein to be ferried to the muscles to help repair and build new muscle!What foods contain this macronutrient?
- Cottage Cheese
- Whey protein
- Chia seeds
A lot of women think carbs are the enemy, but they are not. They have an important role in achieving your goal. I don’t mean eat carbs excessively but in the right amounts and quality, they can help you get the lean muscle you want.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fibers found in certain types of foods. There are two types and can either be classified as simple or complex.
Simple carbohydrate – Digested quickly and released into the body rapidly, giving you a fast burst of energy.
Complex carbohydrate – Digested slowly and released into the body gradually keeping you full and energized for longer.
Complex carbohydrates are the type you need to ensure you eating mostly. Simple carbohydrates generally need to be avoided as much as possible as these are mostly high in sugar and mostly processed. There are however some simple carbohydrates that are good options to eat post workout to replenish your energy stores.
What does it do to the body?
Carbohydrates help fuel muscle growth by aiding protein to enter your muscles. Within the muscle, the amino acids repair muscle damage after a workout. This repair phase is when the muscle is stimulated to grow. Without carbs our body would not be able to utilize those proteins!
How much do I need?
As a general guideline complex carbohydrates should constitute 55 – 60% of your intake. When structuring your meals include about 1 – 3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. Carbohydrate intake will vary depending on how much you are training. The more you do, the more you will need.
It is also important to consume carbohydrates in the 30 minutes post workout to replenish the energy used during the workout. By doing so, your muscles will be read to workout again sooner.
What foods contain this macronutrient?
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Whole-wheat bread
- Sweet potato
Ensure to implement a combination of carbohydrate and protein based foods into each meal and post workout snacks, to ensure you are receiving the right nutrients and fuel to increase your potential for lean muscle gain.