There is a harmonious relationship between what you put into your body and how it grows. You must eat a healthy diet to cultivate this relationship to stay strong and healthy, and this becomes particularly important the older you get. You may have known the powerlifter in high school that ate a large pizza every day to hit his weight class for the next tournament, but that doesn’t fly when you are trying to build muscle as an adult. You are what you eat, so here is a rundown of the effects of nutrition on muscle to give you a better guideline of what to have in your pantry for when you get back from the gym.
Muscle protein synthesis increases when you consume whey or soy protein upon completion of a workout, as there is an increase in strength and lean mass after ingesting these types of protein. So next time you finish an awesome workout, get your shake on!
Even without training or exercise, protein alone can increase muscle. For best muscle mass growth results, consume a normal to high protein diet. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to not work out, though! Exercise + protein = success.
CrAT is a metabolic enzyme that focuses on a micronutrient known as carnitine in order to improve the energy efficiency in the mitochondria of cells. By consuming this micronutrient, your muscles metabolize energy more efficiently, which also improves your stamina. The research isn’t complete, but it holds strong evidence for the effectiveness of this pairing in the economy of your muscle activity. Carnitine is found in red meats, nuts, seeds, artichokes, and broccoli (just to name a few).
Consume a combination of “essential amino acids and dextrose” before a resistance training workout, as they are the most effective means for “protein synthesis”. After working out, drinking skim milk fosters the growth of lean body mass and strength while decreasing body fat.
Fruits & Vegetables
Consumption of fruits & vegetables has been shown to be associated with increased muscular strength in healthy older adults. A study was over adults ages 65-85 and followed their controlled diets for 16 weeks and those who had 5 servings a day showed increased grip strength. Here’s just another reason to eat your veggies, people!
The consumption of omega-3s reduces inflammation: by ingesting these good fats you will be less sore and more mobile after a hard training session. They also can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin which in time reduces your body’s fat storage by improving your muscles’ ability to burn fat. Healthy fatty acids also prevent muscle loss! Keep those gains.
Omega-3 fatty acids (like those from fish) are able to influence your skeletal muscle metabolism. There is also evidence that they have the capacity to alter the effects of both diseases and aging on the body.
Saffron is proven to decrease muscle soreness more effectively than an anti-inflammatory drug after a strenuous workout. Not only that, but it also increases strength. It has recently been approved in Canada as a means to prevent macular degeneration.
When applied topically, rosemary is thought to relieve joint and muscle pain. However, there is no hard evidence to support this claim despite being approved by the German Commission E. Fun fact; rosemary can neutralize food-borne pathogens! Another fun fact; rosemary has been linked to inhibiting cancer cell growth.
Besides being the essential ingredient for bone health, calcium offers a variety of other benefits to the body. Getting this mineral through foods is one of the best ways to prevent or treat osteoporosis by keeping bones healthy and strong. It’s been known to help ease the pains of mother nature’s monthly torture, promoting healthy muscle, brain, and spinal function. In addition, calcium also can prevent rickets and high blood pressure.
In the 48 hours following a resistance training session, what you eat determines if you increase or lose muscle mass. And by ingesting amino acids after strenuous exercise you maximize your body’s ability to synthesize new proteins (i.e. muscle). I’m sure you’re wondering where to find these amino acids. Well, we’re glad you asked! Here is a list of some great sources for said amino acids: lean meats, seafood and poultry, eggs and dairy, and plant-based protein sources.
Nutrients & Muscle Spasms
Do you ever get those annoying muscle spasms? Have no fear, nutrients to fight them are HERE! Next time one creeps up on you, or if you want to be prepared, try to incorporate as much H2O, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium as possible! These nutrients help with things like muscle relaxation, controlling contractions, balancing electrolytes, and more. You are so welcome.
Taking a creatine supplement after resistance training has proven to be an effective means of building muscle mass. What is creatine? It’s an organic acid that aids in energy supply to body cells; you can increase the levels of creatine in your body by eating meat, fish, or taking a supplement.
Vitamin D may help to increase muscle strength! In doing so, you are preventing yourself from future falls and injury. How should you make this happen: increase your intake of vitamin D by consuming foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, egg yolks, beef liver, and salmon.
Beets: no longer just for Dwight Schrute! Penn State has completed a study on the effects of beet juice on athlete’s’ muscles and found that it loosens their muscles- thus lowering the stress on their hearts and blood pressure.