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Nutrition Needs for Muscle Strength and Size Development

What nutrients are important for gaining strength and size?

Exercise provides the stimulus for muscle to change to become bigger and stronger, but nutrition provides the building blocks largely in the form of amino acids derived from protein. With that said, one of the most impactful factors is getting ample protein throughout the day. Plus nutrition factors such as certain amino acids can play potentiating and supporting roles as can amino acid derived factors. These include Essential Amino Acids especially leucine as well as beta-alanine and amino acid derivatives like creatine and HMB. Other nutrients can help support better workouts including caffeine, pomegranate and beet root extracts, etc. Lastly, total daily calories (energy) is an important factor as well. Getting too many calories and some of the more desirable physical attributes such as leanness and definition might not be as recognizable. Meanwhile consuming too little calories will diminish the response to training.


How much energy should be eaten to make the body more lean and muscular?

To become more muscular and leaner, people combine weight/resistance exercise with dietary strategy. In addition, integrating aerobic training will certainly be beneficial. It’s not important not to drastically restrict energy intake, if at all. Drastic energy restriction can place an extra demand upon skeletal muscle to provide amino acids for energy, thus counteracting resistance training to some degree. Thus drastic energy restriction and weight training may create a futile cycle as muscle breakdown contradicts muscle hypertrophy. If you are at a fairly comfortable body size but you want to increase your muscularity and leanness, you will be best served by eating enough energy to meet your expenditure. That would include the energy expended due to exercise training while also choosing foods higher in protein as well as more functional carbohydrates and fats. Functional carbohydrates include fiber-rich choices like whole grains and vegetables and some fruits. Meanwhile functional fats usually come by way of higher protein foods such as dairy, meats, poultry, eggs, etc. The major thrust of your efforts should focus on the change in body composition, not necessarily body weight. In fact, as you add skeletal muscle, it is possible that you will gain weight depending on your starting point. For heavier people with a higher percentage of body fat who wish to become leaner, they can begin by estimating their daily calorie needs and then restrict energy intake by 10 to 20% percent. This is easily done by substituting foods with a greater percentage of energy from protein versus less beneficial carbohydrates and fat. Also, engaging in regular aerobic activities will be of benefit, as discussed shortly.


How much protein is needed during weight training?

Protein is the major nonwater component of skeletal muscle accounting for more than 20% of its total weight and more than 80% of water-free weight. Logic­ally, if you want to build more muscle, you need to eat more protein beyond the needs for normal maintenance. People who engage in weight-train tend to benefit may benefit more from a protein intake of greater than 1.5 gram per kilogram of a performance or leaner body weight. This doubles the protein RDA for inactive people.protein. Several research studies using protein intakes above this level have failed to show additional benefit (more muscle gain). Furthermore, the intensity and extent to which individuals train will dictate where they may fall with these ranges for protein recommendations.


Is the timing of protein consumption important to developing muscle size and strength?

The importance of protein to muscle development has been known for decades. However, recently “protein timing” has become of greater interest. Sophisticated research techniques have allowed for an understanding of the importance of consuming protein around a workout to maximize gains in muscle development. As discussed above, a resistance training sessions results in a simultaneous increase in protein synthesis and breakdown. Consuming protein either just before or immediately after a workout helps maximize muscle protein synthesis and along with carbohydrate to minimize muscle protein breakdown, which combined will lead to better results. Furthermore, protein is needed throughout the day to support on-going repair and adaptation, which can last as long as a day.


Are certain proteins better than others for building muscle size and strength?

Protein from animals is rich in essential amino acids and in particular branched chained amino acids (BCAA). This includes red meat, poultry (meat and eggs), fish and milk (dairy). Soy is also a good source of essential amino acids. Any or combinations of these protein sources consumed before or after a workout will support muscle development. On the other hand, supplement manufacturers target single protein ingredients such as WPI or a blend of protein ingredients to create a more strategic muscle development food. Furthermore, protein fractions from milk namely, whey protein isolate (WPI), whey protein concentrate (WPC) and casein can be used strategically as whey is rapidly digested and absorbed than casein. This has led to the idea of fast and slow protein which is like a time released system. Whey also seems to be a little more advantageous in supporting muscle development processes than soy, which is one reason why whey is the principle protein ingredient in many bars and shakes and soy is either absent or contributes less to the formulation.

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