The human body in many ways is similar to a high performance sports car. Your physical workout represents the ignition that starts the muscle-building engines. Nutrition provides the fuel that allows the engine to run economically and without undue wear and tear. When you match the intensity of your workouts with an equally committed approach to nutrition, your muscle growth will not only be greater, it will come more quickly.
Now to personalize your diet you have to increase your knowledge of the food groups. Food can be categorized in three groups: protein, carbohydrate and fat. These are referred to as macronutrients.
PROTEIN like high grade metal is used to build a great sports car. Protein is the primary building block in the creation, maintenance and repair of the muscle tissues. The body must be in a condition called positive nitrogen balance (the metabolic state in which muscle growth occurs). To achieve and sustain that positive nitrogen balance, the body must be supplied with sufficient quantities of protein on a regular basis. This means you should have 5 to 6 small meals a day. The consensus is that an active human being requires a daily intake of one gram of protein, per pound of bodyweight.
CARBOHYDRATE is to the human body, what gas is to a high performance machine. The body prefers carbohydrates as its main source of fuel during workouts and everyday activities. If inadequate supply is received, the body looks else where for energy. The source it will turn to is protein (often muscle), which is converted into glucose and then used as energy. The conversion of protein to glucose can deplete your protein storage and potentially take your body out of a state of positive nitrogen balanced. A diet deficient in carbohydrate can thus severely affect the entire muscle-building process. This type of diet wastes muscle tissue and can prevent you from reaching a maximum intensity during training.
FAT is another source of energy. Whether it’s the stored fat in your body or consumed in your daily meals, the body will tap into fat storage to fuel normal daily activities. More important than its energy value, fat keeps skin tissue healthy; aids in the cushioning of internal organs; helps lubricate joints and play a valuable role in the absorption of certain vitamins. The bottom line is your body cannot function without it.
DIET: When designing your diet, food consumption should be: 15-30% protein, 50-60% carbohydrate and 10-20% fat. If you’re overweight and need to shed surplus fat, then you reduce fat intake to 10-15% and don’t consume carbohydrate at night when your body is less active. For the typically underweight hard gainer, an intake of 15-25% fat is appropriate. Your protein should come from chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat and eggs. Milk is another source of first-class protein, but high in fat. If milk is desired, switch to skim or 2% fat.
Carbohydrates should come primarily (70-80%) from complex sources (natural not processed), such as white or brown rice, potatoes, yams, fibrous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower or salads, beans, and oatmeal. Basically, consume more grains and vegetables and avoid refined carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are recommended over simple carbohydrates because complex provides a long, steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, minimizing the secretion of excess insulin and keeping fat-storing enzyme systems at bay.
There’s no need to seek out fatty foods. You’ll reach your required fat level naturally by consuming protein and the fat contained in numerous carbohydrate sources.