When it comes to getting into shape and building muscle, diet plays an undeniably important role. 80% of body composition change is reliant upon diet and the remaining 20% is on what you do at the gym. With its constant reinforcement on your results at every mealtime, it is easy to see why utilising it to its optimum potential can not only help you reach your nutrition goals, but also your aesthetic and fitness ones too! Keep reading to find out our top tips.
1. Understand the link between diet and exercise- Knowing how the two work together makes it easier to pick the right foods when trying to build muscle. Think of the gym as your trigger. It trains the muscles, burns energy (calories) and starts the process for your body to become leaner, stronger and larger in muscle mass by creating microtears (which is the first step to creating new muscle, explained in our previous blog: How to Increase Muscle Mass, Definition and Tone). Diet, is your nourisher. The second step which takes the processes your body has started and turns them into your results. It feeds recovery and fills in muscle damage to build and create new mass, getting you to your results. This then comes back around when you need to eat to sustain fuel and energy in order to workout optimally, and start the process all over again which is why both diet and exercise need to be combined in a healthy balance as you can’t have one without the other.
2. Reduce refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, fried and fatty foods and alcohol – When it comes to getting into shape, the saying “you can’t out train a bad diet” can’t ring truer. While limiting your intake of these items and swapping them out for healthier options is always better for your long term health, when it comes to whipping into shape, avoiding these foods helps give your body the maximum opportunity to grow and strengthen as many of these foods can sabotage your results. As mentioned earlier, 80% of body composition changes are dependent upon diet so sticking to cleaner options will help immensely.
3. Eat more, not less- When being more active and trying to build muscle, you’ll need to reassess your calorie intake. Being in a calorie deficit (weight loss mode) makes it hard to increase muscle as the body turns to using muscle as fuel when calories are low, while also increasing your fat stores. Eating in a calorie excess can also be beneficial as it makes building muscle easier, aiding in anabolism (growth) and recovery due to providing the body with enough energy to build.
4. Pay attention to protein – Protein is one of the building blocks for muscle growth. Not only will it help you maintain and build muscle, but also aid in recovery and feeling full after mealtimes. Consuming more than the minimum requirement puts your body into a state of anabolism (growth)- so it can build larger muscle due to having enough energy and nutrients. The maximum amount of protein per day is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but consuming 0.4 grams per kilogram is enough to trigger growth (note that the body can only absorb is around maximum 25 to 35 grams per meal). Protein supplements like shakes and bars can also be a quick and easy way to get more protein into your diet.
5. Don’t forget healthy fats- While you will want to avoid trans and saturated fats, healthy ones like that found in salmon, olive oil and nuts are important for maintaining hormone function, boosting metabolism, improving hair/skin/nails and aiding in muscle growth. Fat free diets have also been shown to impede muscle growth if vigorously exercising, so make sure to include a good amount of healthy fats into your diet.
6. Eat whole foods- Sticking to whole foods (think food minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible) ensures you are getting a wide range of vitamins and minerals important for recovery, balance and muscle growth. You’re also doing your body a world of good by avoiding unnecessary and unhealthy high levels of refined sugar and saturated/trans fats which tend to be hidden in a lot of processed items. When trying to meet protein goals, ensure you are having a variety of fruit and/or vegetables at every meal to keep them tasty and interesting while avoiding the trap of falling into repetitive and bland ones lacking in a variety of much needed nutrients.
7. Stay hydrated- When it comes to building muscle mass, studies have shown that when cells lose water during dehydration, protein production can not only slow down, but their breakdown process can also be sped up. Another important reason to stay hydrated contributes to your strength and control, as when you don’t drink enough water muscles can lack the electrolytes they need to maintain balance resulting in these weakened functions.
8. Make smart choices before your workout – Eating 30-60 minutes before a workout is vital to ensuring you have the energy to push through. The same goes with what kind of foods you eat as depending on the type of workout you are about to do will impact the best pre-workout snack or meal. For cardio and circuits (HIIT), carbohydrate rich foods such as a banana or oatmeal will ensure you have enough glycogen stores to exercise effectively and for longer.
9. Eat to recover – After your workout, eating a meal of protein and carbohydrates within 45 minutes stops the body from further breaking down muscle, stimulate muscle protein synthesis and aid in recovery. Options like chicken and brown rice, Greek yogurt or crackers with cottage cheese and turkey breast are all great picks.
10. Plan your meals- Prepping food in advance helps you avoid skipping meals and making choices out of hunger which may not benefit your overall goals. Planning for your day ahead with balanced high-protein snacks (think sliced apple, almonds and boiled eggs or a protein bar) is an excellent option to help keep your energy up and retain existing muscle as skipping meals, feeling hungry (due to not eating enough) and eating things lacking in nutrition can lead to calorie deficit and muscle breakdown.
When it comes to the power of these habits in conjunction with exercise, one example can be seen with our brand new Emsculpt treatment. Many of our patients find that by having a diet to enable and trigger muscle growth and combining this with their Emsculpt treatment, plus a newly begun or pre-existing exercise regime has yielded far more dramatic results.
Emsculpt (like regular exercise) is the perfect addition to healthy eating when trying to improve the physique as it gives patients targeted and high-quality exercise, contracting 100% of the muscle using High Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic Technology (HIFEM) versus, the 20% targeted by regular physical training. Treatment is non-surgical, noninvasive and requires no downtime or needles as patients simply lie down with the treatment paddles on their chosen area. One 30-minute treatment allows patients to do 20,000 high-quality sit ups or squats to build muscle, while raising fat metabolism for fat loss to produce strong, lean and incredibly defined results.
Treatment is great for new mothers to help bring the stomach muscles back together and re-engage the core, athletes and active people who want to take their workouts and training further, those who find exercise difficult due to pain or injury and patients who want the physical benefits and look of a fitter figure. Treatment areas include stomach, arms, calves and buttocks (Emsculpt is the World’s First Non-Surgical Buttock Lifting Treatment).
Emsculpt has been voted 91% Worth It by RealSelf’s 2020 Patient Choice Awards, Best Innovations by NewBeauty 2019 Award Winners and Best Body Firming Treatment by Harper’s Bazaar 2019 Anti Ageing Awards.
Treatment is currently available at our clinics in London and Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. To book a free consultation and free 15-minute trial session, please contact us on 0333 920 2471. For more on Emsculpt including patient before and afters, click here.